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City issues green roof guidelines

"It’s been something in the back of our minds for a while," says Jane Welsh, the city’s acting manager for zoning bylaws and the environment, explaining that these new green roof guidelines are not only new, they’re the first one’s the city’s issued.

Toronto was the first city in North America, according to its website anyway, to pass a green roof bylaw, back in 2009. It stipulates that all buildings with a gross floor space of 2,000 square metres or more, whether residential, industrial or commercial, establish a green roof.

"When we released the green roof bylaw, we thought it would be helpful to residents and to green roof installers," she says, careful to point out there were no particular offenders or offences that inspired the release of these guidelines. "We were getting green roofs that were going up near natural heritage areas. You want to provide an extension of the natural heritage area, and provide habitats for butterflies and bird, perhaps, or just add to the native plant population."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jane Welsh

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]


TD Centre issues sustainability report

As more developers and property managers ho on the green bandwagon, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish one’s self from the crowd. The TD Centre has decided to release a full report of its 2012 performance in what general manager David Hoffman calls a "360 interconnected approach."

"We have done a lot, we have pioneered a lot," Hoffman says. "We have been innovative and we simply want to put it together in one package."

The innovation includes their occupant engagement program, their quarterly Green Council, their green brain trust and their daytime cleaning program, which Hoffman says half of his tenants have opted for.

But the biggest thing for Hoffman is how this report differs from the way most large organizations report their carbon results.

"This is the first time in North America that a project-level sustainability report has been put together separate from its parent organization," he says. "We’re doing it at a property level, an asset level."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: David Hoffman

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Don River Park sets a park-building precedent

Don River Park, the 7.3 hectre park in the heart of the West Don Lands that will be largely completed this month, is remarkable chiefly for its incorporation of what’s known as a flood protection landmass into its landscape.

It’s the latest example of a city that’s long been in the habit of blending infrastructure and design.

Like the old Hydro houses and the R.C. Harris water treatment plant, Infrastructure Ontario’s armoured mound near the mouth of the Don at River Street, meant to protect the downtown core from the sort of flooding that might result from a century hurricane, is one of the centrepieces of this new park, working water necessities into itself, much like Sherbourne Commons turned its water purification plant into a water feature.

"I think this is a good precedent for how we can design our spaces," says James Roach, Waterfront Toronto’s director of parks, design and construction.

The park has been in development since September 2010. When completed, it will run along the Don River while simultaneously providing "spectacular views of downtown and Lake Ontario," according to the park's website. It will include areas for lacrosse, soccer, bird watching, picnics, concerts, tobogganing, as well as meadows and hiking trails. 

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: James Roach

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

What's old is new: remarkable demolition begins for 88 Scott Street

One of the city’s biggest demolition jobs is about to get underway to make room for a new 540,000 square foot mixed-use complex at 88 Scott Street near Yonge and Wellington.

What’s there now, at 185,000 square feet, is a 1951 limestone building, to which several additions were made in the early 1980s. What makes the demolition such a major project is that the developer, Concert Properties, has decided to save the limestone and incorporate it into the new building.

"All the stones will be catalogued, cleaned and repaired if necessary," says Concert’s VP of development, Kelly Wilson. He says they’ll probably end up being stored for at least two years before being reused. In addition to greatly reducing the demolition waste (and the new material needed for construction), one of the side effects of the decision will be that, despite the new design, the building will retain some familiarity.

"From a pedestrian perspective, you’re going to read the building pretty much the way it reads today," Wilson says. "Floors two to five will look virtually exactly the way it does today."

"The 1951 building that we are reconstructing is not a designated heritage building," Wilson says. "But it is what we call a character building and a good example of a modern classic architectural style. Nevertheless, it has been a part of the fabric of the community for the last 62 years and although salvaging and reinstating the limestone and granite is very expensive, we believe it is the most contextually appropriate urban design solution for the site and the reuse of the stones fits Concert’s commitment to building sustainable communities."

Wilson expects the demolition to take eight or nine months, with another 42 months for construction of the 58-storey tower, which will also include five underground levels. Eighty-eight Scott will have 479 residential units, as well as 60,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 square feet of retail.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Kelly Wilson

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

Bicycle injury study proves need for bike lane separation

According to a recent broadly based and carefully methodological study, streetcar tracks are not good for cyclists.

Any urban cyclist would have been able to tell you that. They get especially bad in snowy weather, when the sides of streets, the bits usually hived off for cyclists, are piled high with snow moved out of the way of motorists. That’s when people on bikes are pushed closer to the grooves that are perfectly sized for bike tires to slip into them, flipping cyclists off and, possibly, into traffic. When you get to an intersection like Dundas and Bathurst where two streetcar lines cross, trying to keep at right angles to the tracks, the safest way for a cyclist to approach them, can start to look like quadrinomial equation.

But now, there is more than anecdotal evidence. The study, conducted in Toronto and Vancouver, asked 690 cyclists in downtown emergency rooms where they had their accidents and studied the conditions of those sites, comparing them to other randomly selected locations along that same cyclist’s route in what is called a case crossover-designed study meant to factor out variables.

"The relative risk is about 3.18 at intersections," says Anne Harris, assistant professor at Ryerson and the lead author of the paper that deals with these aspects of the study. "That’s approximately three times the risk of injury when streetcar tracks are present. It’s four times when not at intersections."

She called it "one of our stronger risk relationships," the strongest of which was the absence of physically separate bike lanes, which is 10 times riskier than the painted lines we have in Toronto, which the study found offer no significant protection.

The report was published in Injury Prevention and funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Anne Harris

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New east end road named for Jack Layton

Some might have expected the man to get a highway at least, given the high Jack Layton went out on, but according to Councillor Paula Fletcher, whose ward was part of Layton’s riding, Jack Layton Way is far more appropriate.

In addition to being an avid cyclist (and not an especially outspoken advocate for highways), "He was a very big community person," Fletcher says. "He always had time for difficult little community problems and he was very much connected to his neighbourhood. Even when he was occupied with big national issues, I could always call him up and he’d always have time for me and the area."

The naming ceremony on Sunday, which took place on the 400-metre-long road near the old Don Jail and the new Bridgepoint Hospital, included a lion dance, acknowledging the Chinatown that was so big a part of Layton’s professional and personal life.

Jack Layton Way will not be the only thing named for the late politician, who died of cancer in 2011. "This is our community’s tribute to Jack Layton," Fletcher says. "This is the community where he was elected as a metro councillor, a city councilllor and an MP. There is the ferry terminal named for him, which the City of Toronto named after him. The mayor, councillor O’Connell and Olivia Chow spent a lot of time looking [for] something that was a large piece of city infrastructure that would be appropriate."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Paula Fletcher
Photos: Paula Fletcher

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]


Have a say in what Eglinton's going to look like

From Jane to Kennedy, Eglinton is going to be a different sort of avenue in the next decade, and the city and Metrolinx are inviting residents to be a part of its development.

Starting with a meeting last night at Keele and Eglinton, and continuing on Feb. 26 at the Noor Cultural Centre on Wynford at Eglinton, and on the 28th at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute near the site of a future transit stop at Chaplin, the city’s planning division and Metrolinx will be educating and collecting suggestions and criticism on what will become of one of the city’s biggest avenues.

"What we’re discussing is an overall public realm plan for the whole corridor," says Lorna Day, the city’s project manager for Eglinton Connects. "We’re also looking at ways to green the corridor, to provide better connections to the parks and ravines system, and whether there are opportunities to plant bigger trees."

Like many of the city’s avenues, Eglinton is grossly under-developed, but according to the city’s Avenue and Midrise guidelines, there will likely be a profusion of four-to-eight-storey buildings cropping up along the avenue section of Eglinton (its entire stretch with the exception of the Leaside segment between Mt. Pleasant and Laird) alongside the transit development.

This is the third round of discussions on Eglinton, and there will be two more before Eglinton Connects submits its final report in the spring of 2014.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Lorna Day

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Green Living show to introduce Ontario Culinary Adventure

This is the year Toronto makes green living a little more palatable.

The seventh edition of the Green Living Show was announced last week, along with its newest feature, the Ontario Culinary Adventure, done in conjunction with the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance.

"This is a collection of a dozen pavilions," says Green Living events VP Robert Orlovski. "Each pavilion represents a chef, a farmer a distiller, vintner or brewer and a destination marketing representative from a region, from Ottawa across the price to Windsor."

In addition to that, there’ll be an eco-parent show-within-a-show (there will, apparently, be mompreneurs), as well as Go Electric, a showcase for electric cars.

"We have been monitoring the marketplace and speaking a lot with car manufacturers," Orlovski says, and "this year, 2013, is a huge year for electric cars. We’ll be featuring tons of electric cars. Not only them, but also charging technologies. A whole section on what the electrification of transportation means in our city."

The Green Living Show, a showcase for marketing and branding firm Green Living whose clients include Loblaws, Samsung, Scotiabank and Tridel as well as the City of Toronto, will be held April 12-14 at the Direct Energy Centre’s halls B and C at the Ex. The  $16 admission can be waived with a drop-off of recyclable electronics at the door.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Robert Orlovski

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Richmond Hill home builder recognized for sustainability

Heathwood Homes is being recognized by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation as a builder of healthy housing, just the sixth GTA home builder to be honoured in the province-wide program's 15 years.

The Healthy Housing Recognition is based on a single house that CHMC inspectors determine, after being contacted by the applicant builder, lives up to its five principles of residential health: occupant health, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, environmental responsibility, and affordability.

“People think about energy,” says CMHC senior research consultant Jamie Shipley about the sort of common misconceptions CHMC’s program is meant to remedy, “but not really about indoor qualities, like using low-emission materials like no or low-VOC paint, or installing balanced ventilation.”

The Heathwood home in question has solar panels on the roof, fibreglass shingles, xeriscaping, permeable pavement, bamboo and stone floors, rain barrels and carpets made from recycled plastic bottles.

CMHC celebrated the addition to the short GTA list with Heathwood president Hugh Heron at the Heathwood New Home Information Centre at 11488 Yonge Street in Richmond Hill yesterday.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jamie Shipley

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]


Ryerson students develop plans for public amenities near subway stations

Ryerson's Department of Architectural Science has set its students the task of coming up with novel ideas about how to get more utility and "civility" out of our city's public spaces.

As part of a course led by Associate Professor George Kapelos, students across the faculty have been put into teams to come up with useful public amenities for 16 subway-proximate spaces around the city, from Berczy Park near King station to a 629 square metre city-owned lot near Lawrence station.

Each design must include 15 elements such as a WiFi hotspot, a weather information post, protected seating and phone charging stations, along with at least five others chosen from a list of 22 options, incuding hot water dispensers, food warming stations and donation collection boxes.

The project is in line with the city's officially expressed desire to do likewise. As Kapelos says in the assignment brief he issued his students, "The City of Toronto is seeking to introduce public facilities on city-owned properties or public spaces adjacent to major transportation interchanges that provide civic amenities to the population of the city." The city has just installed the second of a proposed 20 public toilets as part of its initiative.

Interim results will be on display this afternoon (Jan 9)  between 2 and 4 p.m., and again on Friday after 6 p.m.  The final designs will be on display in the form of posters starting at 6 p.m. on Friday at the school's atrium at 325 Church Street.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Prachi Khandekar

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]


Tower renewal talk brings Australian expert to town

I once asked former mayor David Miller in an interview what excited him most about the city. I'd come to expect unusual answers to usual questions from this mayor, but still I was surprised when instead of saying the film festival or our wonderful multiculturalism or our scintillating high school football scene, he said "tower renewal."

Though deeply unglamorous, Toronto's program to give new life to its many old residential towers, built from the 1950s to the 1980s, by making them sustainable, more communal and prettier is, in fact, quite exciting. Exciting enough to bring Dr. Rebecca Leshinsky up from the Melbourne, where she teaches at the Catholic University of Australia, to talk this week on the subject at the Innis Town Hall.

Leshinsky is studying her own city's towers and what might be done to rehabilitate them. "We came across Toronto's tower renewal program and we thought there may be some learnings that each of us could teach each other," she said, shortly after landing in Toronto. "I think Toronto is ahead of Melbourne, but I hope through the research we do we can offer some of our findings."

Her talk concentrated on potential financial instruments that may be available—to landlords, tenants and the city—to finance improvements and retrofits.

Graeme Stewart of ERA Architects also spoke, mostly about zoning, which he's studied and reported on to the city. Endorsed by the city's planning and management committees, Stewart's report recommends easing the zoning bylaws associated with these slab towers, often in place since they were built, to allow all the same things main streets and commercial strips are allowed, especially easy development of commercial space to allow for the introduction of small businesses, retail and otherwise, that might cater to the communities of as many as 20,000 people.

Speaking specifically about St. Jamestown, but indicating it's the same situation in communities all over the city, including Thorncliffe Park, Rexdale and East Scarborough, Stewart told Yonge Street, "It's had a 40-year history of no commercial activity. It's not going to happen overnight, and it's going to take a lot of effort to get it started, but you can imagine, once you get it started, there will be a lot of demand."

Writer: Bert Archer
Sources: Rebecca Leshinsky, Graeme Stewart

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Construct Canada learns how to build urban nodes

Yonge and Sheppard is good, King Street West is bad, and Peanut Plaza is worse.

That's the conclusion reached by a panel of experts who spoke recently at Construct Canada, the annual convention and trade show for builders, designers and others in the construction trades.

The talk was on urban nodes, and the talk focused on what can go right, what can go wrong and what the most valuable qualities are in the planning, construction and maintenance of urban nodes, those little slices of urbanity that together make up the modern agglomerated city.

The panel consisted of Clifford Korman and David Butterworth, both of Kirkor Architects, and Ward 33's Councillor Shelley Carroll. It was moderated by yours truly in my capacity as Yonge Street Media's development editor.

Integration of live and work space was of paramount importance to Korman, whose firm is behind several of the city's biggest new live-work developments, including the Hullmark Centre and the World on Yonge. He also stressed the importance of easy and reliable access to transportation. Carroll offered this as a major reason the King West strip does not work as well as it should, with its oversubscribed streetcars making rush-hour commutes difficult. Butterworth added that the quality of architecture along King West was disappointing, noting that good looking and architecturally well functioning neighbourhoods tends to be happier and more vibrant ones.

The area around Peanut Plaza, a 1960s slab development in the heart of Carroll's ward, was declared a right-off by Korman and Carroll due to the separation of towers from the local amenities by the Don Mills Road thoroughfare, though Butterworth praised the simplicity and durability of the slab construction. Carroll agreed that she has found it much less expensive to renovate and retrofit the towers.

Everyone agreed that the developing node at Yonge and Sheppard is a model for the future, with its access to two subway lines, major thoroughfares and a highway. And Kirkor's own Hullmark Centre, currently under development there, incorporates a large park in the form of a green roof, condos and office space in the same complex, as well as a large grocery store. Carroll noted that when she drives through the neighbourhood these days, she notices masses of pedestrians that weren’t there five years ago, a sure sign of a successful node.

Writer: Bert Archer
Sources: Shelley Carroll, Clifford Korman, David Butterworth

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]


Google Canada moves into some new & extraordinary digs

Google Canada's got some new digs.

As of the middle of last month, Google Canada's Toronto office moved from its rather inauspicious space in the Dundas Square Cineplex building to 89,000 square feet on five floors of a stately Peter Dickinson tower on Richmond Street West, just behind the opera house.

There have for years been stories out of Mountain View, California of Google's wonderful HQ with its over-the-top amenities, ad now, it seems, Google Canada's decided it worth following suit.

I took a tour of the place last week with Aaron Brindle, Google Canada's communications manager. It's not quite finished yet— there are still some cartographically themed graphics to go into some stairwells, and one floor is still entirely unoccupied, though it's fully furnished.

But they do have a DJ room. And a jam room, where employees can use the full complement of instruments and gear to play and even record. Also, there's food—lots of it.

"I don't think any employee is ever more than 150 feet away from food," Brindle said. Walking down the hallways you run into jars of candy, freezers of ice cream, the occasional mini-kitchen, all in addition to the main dining room, where meals prepared by Google's chef are served five days a week.

It's almost as if Google wanted people to have something to write about when they opened.

There are also more obviously productive spaces, like the 42 conference, phone or "huddle" rooms sprinkled about the place.

Carpets are made from salvaged fishnets, and the walls are lined with reclaimed wood, all of which was designed and executed by Google in consultation with HOK.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Aaron Brindle

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]


Waterfront named to list of international 'smart' communities

Toronto has been named to a list of 21 "smart" communities by a Manhattan think tank devoted to social and economic development.

The Intelligent Community Forum, co-founded by Kitchener-Waterloo tech exec John Jung, put Toronto on their list for only the second time since they started the program in 2002. In 2005, the city made the top seven, which is the ICF’s shortlist.

This list of 21 communities is a sort of long list on the way to naming the world's smartest community in June 2013.

The application was made by Waterfront Toronto, under the guidance of Kristina Verner, Waterfront's director of intelligent communities, part of whose job description is to maintain relations with the ICF.

"There were over 400 communities that applied," Verner says, "so it's a great honour to get to this point. It's an opportunity to tell the story and promote the brand that is the waterfront revitalization as well as the city of Toronto."

Verner says the application highlighted the new George Brown campus at the waterfront, TIFF, ORION and the plan to cover the entire waterfront community with free wifi, as well as the city's [email protected] program, which was also a part of the application in 2005.

The top-seven list is announced in January; the winner is named in June.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Kristina Verner

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]


Project Neutral launches second annual household survey

Project Neutral launched the second year of its household survey last week, and while the organization is still concentrating on two neighbourhoods—Riverdale and The Junction—it is opening the survey up to everyone in the city.

From now until November 25, Project Neutral is asking anyone who owns their home, including those with tenants, to fill out a questionnaire to determine their carbon footprint. It takes about 20 minutes, but in an improvement over last year's, the questionnaire allows you to log on and off, permitting you to do it in stages.

"Last  year, we were entirely volunteer-based," says the project's co-founder and managing director, urban planner Karen Nasmith. "It was a pretty massive effort, but we got feedback on the survey that it needed to be more user-friendly."

Though the focus is still on the original two neighbourhoods, with various prizes available to those who fill out the form, Nasmith hopes that more people from outside wards 13 and 30 will contribute data this year. Last  year, the project received 120 completed questionnaires.

Project Neutral's ultimate goal, after establishing a baseline of household data for the city, is to assist in making the city's neighbourhoods as close to carbon neutral as possible.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Karen Nasmith

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

132 Sustainability Articles | Page: | Show All
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