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Woodbridge : Development News

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Chief Planner talks suburban mobility

At Monday’s meeting of the Chief Planner’s Roundtable, consultant Jane Farrow announced to the 200 attendees that 60 per cent of the people living in eight so-called tower neighbourhoods in the inner suburbs do not have drivers' licenses.
This is big news.

These suburbs, built at a time when cars seemed the natural tools for urban expansion, are no longer inhabited by car people. They are, in fact, decreasingly suburbs at all, but rather less dense cities of their own, and as Vaughan and Markham, among others, seek to redress the change in various ways, the Chief Planner’s Roundtable is looking into how people do, can and should move around.

"A tremendous number of them walk," Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat says, "even when walking conditions aren’t that good."

So one of the ways Keesmaat would like to address that is by studying how and where people are getting around now, and adapting the now outmoded infrastructure to accommodate them.

Some aspects of this could be relatively easy, like making sure paths are shoveled, taking down fences that obstruct natural routes, and keeping them well lit after dark. But there are more profound ways to address the issue as well.

"It's about how we can re-adapt very suburban, car-oriented environments," Keesmaat says, "by getting a much finer street network, and adding development parcels, recognizing the importance of land-use planning and infrastructure changes in order to increase the options."

In other words, as these suburbs expand, they expand with these more reasonable, responsive forms of transportation and mobility in mind.

By the end of the roundtable, which was open to the public but attended mostly by those in related professions, they came up with a list of seven things that, Keesmaat says, need to happen now, including improving the walking infrastructure where people walk already, ensuring walking and cycling infrastructure links up with transit, improving data collection so future decisions can be made on solid ground, improving signage, loosening land-use controls to allow for more organic change as it is warranted, develop to allow people to live closer to where they work, and encourage individual "champions" to get behind significant infrastructure investments in these suburbans and push them through.

Video records of this and previous roundtables are available on the chief planner’s website.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jennifer Keesmaat

Green Toronto Awards nominations now open

Nominations opened this week for the 2012 Green Toronto Awards, though the most interesting category from the 2011 edition has been dropped.

Last year, the awards expanded to include a green homes category, aimed at individuals who had done something remarkable to or with their own homes.

"It wasn't our strongest category," says Jessica Chow, co-ordinator for the city-sponsored awards. "We don’t know why. We noticed a lot of them were, 'Oh, I recycle in my home.' It wasn't really what we were after."

So this year, it's been folded into the more general green design category, where individual homes will now compete with eco clothing, green roofs and other design innovations.

Nominations can be submitted here until midnight on Feb. 6. Winners will be announced in March.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jessica Chow

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]

Beaverhall Homes launches Regency Estates homes in Woodbridge, $1.3-$1.8 million

Beaverhall Homes had their grand opening this past weekend for a new upscale subdivision in Woodbridge on the 10-acre site of the former Reeves Garden Centre.

The model home, showily designed by Flora di Menna Design (in the middle of its otherwise typically advertorial prose, the National Post's real estate section's description of the interior mentioned that "Tony Montana would approve"), is finished near Islington and Highway 7.

"It is an infill piece," says construction manager Elisa Pennino, "where it's surrounded by an existing, very mature residential area, which was eye-catching to us."

The project is being built on 34 lots, with frontages of 60, 65 and 70 feet, with depths between 157 and 160 feet. The target demographic, according to Pennino, is 40 to 60-year-old Woodbridge locals.

Prices range from $1.3 to $1.8 million for houses between 3,800 and 5,800 square feet. The architect is Hunt Design of Richmond Hill. Construction is set to begin in April or May, and Pennino expects the first closing to be December, 2011.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Elisa Pennino

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

Family jewellers makes the move to Yorkville with 2,000 square-foot boutique

A third generation family-owned and –run Italian jewellery business, operating in Woodbridge for the past 20 years, has made the move to Yorkville, almost doubling its selling space and bringing an indie-luxe touch to a neighbourhood used to buying its chains from chains.

"We've been looking for a downtown location for quite some time," says Giorgio Bandiera, co-owner and manager of both locations of Bandiera Jewellers.

Construction took over three months, and the shop, at 123 Yorkville Avenue, opened in July, taking over the space previously occupied by the Arctic Bear knick-knack shop and La Borsa bags.

Bandiera says that all the design and interior elements were done and produced in Italy and shipped over here and installed by an Italian team supervised by Milan-based design firm BNP.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Giorgio Bandiera

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

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