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No billboard for West Donlands park after citizen complaints pile up

Outfront Media has withdrawn an application to erect a digital billboard facing Serena Gundy Park in the West Don park corridor after an outpouring of community protest.
About 32.54 square metres of flashing screen would have been located on the south side of Eglinton Avenue East, east of Leslie Street, within a Canadian Pacific rail corridor. The city received 68 letters about the proposal, all but a couple (from the proponent) opposed to it.
“It would have affected thousands of people in three categories. One is the people living near it. For this type of sign, it flashes every 10 seconds. It’s incredibly bright. If you live within a half a kilometre, it could change the light in your room as it flashes,” says Dave Meslin of the group Scenic Toronto, which fights to safeguard the “visual character” of Toronto’s neighbourhoods, parks, roadways and public spaces. “Then you’ve got all the people who use the park and then third, you’ve got drivers. These signs are designed to distract drivers. So while the government is going out of its way to minimize distraction from cell phone use or whatever, it’s insane for us to give permission to design and install a product which has the sole purpose of distracting drivers’ attention from the road.”
Digital billboards aren’t allowed in most areas of the city but in special areas, a five-person Sign Variance Committee can grant permission. “They’ve done a very good job, but the process only works when the committee hears from both sides, and it’s not a level playing field. The billboard companies have paid lobbyists who know when these meetings are, know how to navigate the agenda and can wait there for hours for their item to show up,” says Meslin, a long-time advocate of better democracy and citizen engagement. “Citizens don’t know about these applications, they don’t know about the meetings, they don’t have time to attend the meetings and they don’t know the procedures.”
Meslin says the city should use plain language, rather bureaucratese, to explain proposals and procedures. Right now the city doesn’t use the word “billboard,” only “sign.” And the city uses the word “static” to describe digital signs that change every 10 seconds.
A staff report to the Sign Variance Committee described the area for the proposed Outfront Media billboard as “largely pastoral and bucolic” and recommended against granting the variance.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Dave Meslin

City considers requiring more space between tall buildings

How close is too close?
At a public consultation last week, downtown residents got a chance to speak up about the appropriate distances between highrise buildings.
As part of TOcore, a three-year study by City Planning into how to positively manage growth in Toronto’s downtown, the city held a meeting to talk about tower separation. That is, how far tall buildings should be set back from property lines and how much space there should be between two towers on a single site to avoid excessive shadowing, pedestrian-level wind and blocked views.
Recommendations that came into effect in 2013 suggests that there should be a setback of 12.5 metres or greater for all tall building towers from the side and rear property lines or centre line of an abutting lane, and for more than one tower on the same site, the setback should be 25 metres or greater. But the current zoning, which requires a setback of only 5.5 metres, is considered outdated amidst Toronto’s current avalanche of 40-plus-storey towers.
Proposed changes to the official plan would require base building height for tall building development to be consistent with the existing streetwall of the block. The new plan might also restrict tall buildings from being built on small sites. The City Planning department would also like more widespread use of “block planning” where numerous tall buildings are proposed, or where the individual lots are too small to accommodate the required setbacks. “These plans take into consideration where towers could possibly be located on any given block to ensure appropriate tower placement, massing, scale and setbacks,” states the slides presented at the consultation.
“Once we review the comments we’ll start making revisions, work with other community planners who typically review tall buildings and host an online consultation where we’ll post policies and have people comment on them,” says assistant planner George Pantazis, who expects this phase of TOcore to be complete by June. About 20 people gave feedback at the meeting.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: George Pantazis

Downtown residents get early look-see at possibilities for new Wellesley Street park

A new downtown park is a rare thing, especially one of any size.
But this week, residents got a peek at what the 1.6-acre park slated for Wellesley Street between Bay and Yonge streets could look like. Landscape architects dtah presented concepts plans for the park based on what people have so far suggested for the space.
“People have talked a lot about wanting a green oasis, a respite from being in such a dense area. People talked about flexible spaces. For example, spaces that can be used as a market one day, for seating area another day or where kids can run around on another day,” says Corinne Fox, policy and standards development officer with Parks, Forestry and Recreation.
The unique opportunity came out of public demand for a park in the area, and the fact that Lanterra has two other adjacent properties on the block. “And so we were able to combine the parkland dedication of three developments to form a bigger park,” says Fox. Several years ago, Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam had lobbied the province, which had owned the land, to turn it into a park. Instead, it sold to Lanterra, leading Wong-Tam to lobby the developer to create a park next door to its 60-storey condo at 11 Wellesley. Council approved the development and park proposal in 2014. “If Lanterra had not worked with us, where a lot of the park is going to be would be mainly buildings,” says Fox.
Following this week’s consultation, an online consultation later this month and another meeting this summer, Fox says a final plan should be ready by the fourth quarter of 2016, with construction expected to be complete in 2018. The fact that the park will be built on top of a parking garage places some limitations on what form it can take. In 30 or 40 years, everything will have to be ripped up in order to place the parking garage’s water membrane. “That’s just the nature of a stratified park,” says Fox.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Corinne Fox

Plan for new bus terminal at Kipling Station moves ahead

Metrolinx is moving ahead with plans for a new 14-bay bus terminal for Kipling Station to improve the integration of GO Bus, GO Train, Mississauga Transit and TTC services at the hub.
The proposed GO and Mississauga MiWay terminal would be to the west of the site at Dundas Street West and Kipling, separate from the existing TTC bus terminal. The new parking and access arrangements would reconfigure the local road network, including a new intersection on Dundas. The plan also attempts to improve access to pedestrians and cyclists.
As a provincial agency, Metrolinx is not required to obtain site plan approval from the City of Toronto, but it filed one this month, agreeing “to work with the City and to take in City comments as input,” states a letter from Jill Hogan, manager of Community Planning in Etobicoke York District that was filed along with several reports on how the new terminal will affect the area.
With major MiWay connections moving to Kipling, the TTC would be able to rebuild the Islington bus terminal “to provide full accessibility and increased redevelopment potential at that station,” states an FAQ from Metrolinx.
An earlier design concept had the new bus terminal located under the transmission lines in the Hydro One corridor/easement, but because of “changes in Hydro One restrictions on development in their corridor, that concept no longer satisfies Hydro One requirements.”

March 30 Update: Kim Johnson, media relations and issues specialist for Metrolinx, says the agency is working on having a preliminary design for the hub ready by the end of 2016 for posting for tender bids.With a design-build contractor on board by mid-2017, the tentative completion of the facility would be the end of 2019.

“Public input is very important during the planning stages and we take all resident concerns in account as we continue on with the project. Extensive stakeholder collaboration is currently ongoing as further design development continues,” says Johnson. “The mobility hub concept is not just about the transit station—it includes the surrounding neighbourhood and is about creating an opportunity to live, work and play, while also being regionally connected.”

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto, Metrolinx, Kim Johnson

Have you hosted a party to name Project: Under Gardiner?

Under Line? The Six Under? Bent Alley?
Waterfront Toronto’s collaborative campaign to come up with a permanent name for the project that will create welcoming public spaces under the Gardiner Expresseway between Strachan and Spadina avenues goes into phase two this week, as the long list of suggestions is handed off to a jury.
Temporarily called Project: Under Gardiner, the initiative would create 55 outdoor civic “rooms” formed by the Gardiner’s structure of columns and beams (also known as bents). Prompted by a $25-million donation from philanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews, the 1.75-kilometre space would connect adjacent neighbourhoods and provide amenities like children’s gardens and performance stages. Waterfront Toronto has been hosting brainstorming sessions and has created a DIY Naming Toolkit to encourage Torontonians to throw naming parties. A week before the April 1 deadline, Waterfront Toronto had received more than 500 submissions, though that number’s expected to double by month’s end.
“Some folks have said, ‘I like the name Under Gardiner name, we should keep it,’ but we think there’s a lot more to draw from and we want to engage Torontonians in that larger conversation,” says Christopher McKinnon, manager of digital and social media for Waterfront Toronto.
While there have some whimsical suggestions—one name that came up during a school workshop was Shark Park—the words “under” and “line” have come up a lot. “Partly it’s a descriptive thing and partly it’s the influence of other high-profile projects in North America, specifically the High Line [in New York],” says McKinnon. “We’re also seeing trends related to The Six, which is the nickname for the GTA amalgamation” of the six boroughs. (Drake’s affection for the nickname The Six might also have something to do with it.)
A panel of judges will trim the list down to between three and five names that will be then put to a public vote in May, then presented to council for approval in June. The project itself is expected to be complete in 2017.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Christopher McKinnon

Hamilton neighbourhood groups successfully fight off new hospital parking lot

A group of neighbourhood associations that joined the city to fight against a new parking lot in their midst celebrated a victory at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) this month.
Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) wanted to expand its 640-spot lot near Hamilton General Hospital at Ferguson and Barton streets, creating 158 additional parking spots on an adjacent vacant lot abutting a residential neighbourhood. The City of Hamilton opposed the application, claiming that the plan for the area, already dominated by institutional buildings and asphalt parking lots, called for mixed-use development. Neighbours were concerned about safety, security and water runoff issues, as well as privacy. Because of the slope of the property, some neighbours worried headlights from the parking lot would be shining in their windows.
The case ended up at the OMB, where several neighbourhood groups banded together to support the city’s position against the new parking lot. They were granted participant status—able to make presentations but not using lawyers or having full “party” standing at the OMB. The provincially-funded Hamilton Health Sciences hospital network hired premier planning law firm Turkstra Mazza & Associates to represent them. But the OMB surprisingly ruled in favour of the city and residents.
“It was an interesting opportunity. We hadn’t had experience in that sort of situation,” says Allison Chewter, president of the Beasley Neighbourhood Association.
What advice would Chewter give to other neighbourhood groups waged in OMB battles?
“Be knowledgeable about how the OMB works. It’s very complicated. We’re fortunate we had another neighbourhood association where several of their members had extensive experience with the OMB and they were able to give us advice. Several other members have background in planning, so we had a good understanding of how it works and were able to not make the decision to spend money on lawyers and planners, and just represent ourselves,” says Chewter. “Be sure that you have a clear message and be to the point and to the facts. A lot of groups tend not to go to the planning argument, which is what the OMB wants to hear.”

HSS currently has an off-site parking lot with an employees shuttle to the hospital. Chewter says the hospital is on a major bus route. "It's not the most reliable bus. Transit could definitely be improved. We think that's something the hospital, which is such a large employer and really a driving force in the city, could have a hand in encouraging the city to expand transit options in that area."
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Allison Chewter

Marriott's Courtyard Toronto Downtown could be replaced with much taller towers

If Yonge Street south of Bloor already seems like an endless series of excavation and construction sites, a new plan for the site of the Marriott’s Courtyard Toronto Downtown may add even more hustings to the mix.
The address 475 Yonge Street is currently home to the largest Courtyard Marriott in the country, with 575 rooms in two buildings, nine and 16 storeys each, connected by a one-storey commercial podium. The proposal submitted this month by Hunter and Associations Ltd. on behalf of CYM Toronto Acquisition LP, would replace the existing structures with two towers, one 65 storeys, the other 45 storeys, connected by a five-storey podium, all designed by Toronto’s Quadrangle Architects.
 “KingSett Capital and InnVest REIT are pleased to announce major plans to position a key downtown Toronto hotel property for the future,” says Nicholas Lakas, vice president of asset management at InnVest REIT.
The new complex would contain 988 residential units, a 289-suite hotel—about half the rooms of the existing hotel—four levels of underground parking, two stories of retail and commercial property and a mid-block pedestrian promenade on the east side of the property to link streets and open spaces in the community. “In our opinion, two sensitively designed tall towers elements are appropriate for the site and fit this key site along Yonge Street, just north of College Street. It will positively contribute to the downtown skyline, with heights that are compatible with the recently approved buildings,” states the report.
In the meantime, the Courtyard by Marriott Toronto is undergoing a $14-million renovation project to renew all the guestrooms, meeting rooms and public spaces. “The renovation project, scheduled for completion in June, demonstrates ownership’s commitment to the on-going operations of the hotel and the delivery of memorable customer experience to our guests,” says Lakas.
The project is certainly in the middle of a hot development zone. Immediately north, at 501 Yonge, excavation has begun on Lanterra’s TeaHouse, which will have two towers at 52 and 25 storeys each. Across the street at 484 Yonge, Kingsett Capital has a 45-storey tower planned, while just a smidge south at 460 Yonge, Canderel is putting up its 66-storey YC Condos building.
The skyscrapering of Yonge aside, the proposed reduction in the number of hotel rooms on the site is also noteworthy. Just a few blocks further south, a proposal for the Chelsea Hotel submitted last fall would see the existing building at Yonge and Gerrard replaced by four towers—80, 50, 74 and 46 storeys—and one six-storey mid-rise structure. Although that plan would create 1,897 residential units, as well as more commercial space, the number of hotel rooms at the Chelsea would drop to 300 from the 1,590 it now has.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Nicholas Lakas, Planning Rationale Report

City awaits details as province promises to allow inclusionary zoning

Ontario should act quickly to allow Toronto to roll out inclusionary zoning to take advantage of the city’s building boom, says the group Social Planning Toronto and a network of other community groups.
On Monday, the province announced “a suite of legislative and policy measures” combined with $178-million over three years, to increase access to affordable and adequate housing in Ontario. Part of that suite is granting cities the power to practice inclusionary zoning—requiring developers to build a certain number of affordable housing units as part of each development project that meets the criteria. Though the news was welcomed by affordable housing advocates, the timeline and the process remain unclear.
“The devil is in the details. They’ve said they’ll introduce legislation ‘soon’ and the definition of soon matters,” says Sean Meagher, executive director of Social Planning Toronto. “This is enabling legislation that allows the municipalities to create these laws.”
Though the City of Toronto has done some preliminary work on the issue, Meagher says it’s hard for staff to draw up proposed inclusionary zoning bylaws without knowing what the provincial legislation will look like. A prolonged provincial process followed by extended discussions at the city level could delay the construction of affordable housing for years. “You can’t bring in legislation that restricts development without talking to the development community and the people of Toronto. Every delay at the provincial level means it will be a long time before we see the benefits,” he says.
Meagher estimates that if Toronto had had inclusionary zoning for the last five years, even the most conservative requirements on developers would have generated about 12,000 new affordable housing units. “Every delay means we’ve missed critical opportunities,” he says. “Inclusionary zoning only helps when people are building. You have to capture the moments when there is development going on.”
Some version of the strategy has been tried in U.S. cities but inclusionary zoning hasn’t caught on in Canada, partly because provinces here often keep their municipalities on short leashes.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Sean Meagher

Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District approved

Council voted last week to designate the stretch of Yonge Street between Bloor and Carleton/College streets as a Historical Conservation District (HCD), providing increased protection for the area’s architecture and history.
While the plan, currently in draft form, will preserve the look and feel of the area and restrict what many property owners can change about their buildings, Mark Garner, executive director of the Downtown Yonge BIA, says he wish the city could go further to maintain the gritty, indie character of the “old bastion” of Yonge Street.

“This is one of the last remaining sections of downtown that really has those old iconic businesses, retailers that have been there since I was a kid. I think the HCD is a good thing to preserve the heritage component, but for me it may not have enough teeth around protecting the lived experience. What I’m always afraid of is the usual Toronto façade-ism,” he says. “We have to maintain the independent retail space. We’ve done studies that people want to have the small independent coffee shops, the chocolatiers, the butchers, the vegetable and fruit stands that provide a great retail experience.”
The city states the HCD is “not meant to prevent new development or prescribe the style of new development within the district. Rather an HCD Plan allows for the ongoing evolution of a district, while guiding new development to be sympathetic to its character.”
The Downtown Yonge BIA currently only extends to Carleton/College—just outside the new HCD. But the organization expects to absorb Yonge Street south of Bloor, which does not have a business improvement area, within the next year. The BIA would have to balance the more bombastic and chain-oriented Yonge and Dundas area with the quirkier and sometimes seedier stretch north of College. “I think our BIA respects what the neighbourhoods are about so we’re advocating for the right things,” says Garner.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Mark Garner

Artscape mulls designs for Launchpad space in Daniels Waterfront

The Launchpad creative space, scheduled to open in 2018 in the Daniels building going up at Queens Quay and Jarvis, sounds like a quintessentially Artscape kind of project—but it’s not quite.
Known for creating affordable residential and studio spaces for artists and cultural organizations, Artscape is been the force behind Wychwood Barns, Young Place, Triangle Lofts and Daniels Spectrum, among other place-making projects. Launchpad, described as “part incubator, part co-working facility and part entrepreneurship centre,” builds on the success of those projects, but takes a more proactive approach in supporting artists, partnering with educational institutions to help creative types build sustainable businesses. The idea came out of a study Artscape did few years ago on how to help creative people thrive, which suggested that affordable spaces are only half the equation—boosting income is the other half.
“A lot of the [existing programs] were focused on short-term survival-oriented things, rather than growth and development from a business perspective,” says Artscape CEO Tim Jones. Though the space has yet to be built, Launchpad is already on the fourth cohort of the program’s various pilots.
So it makes sense that designing the Launchpad space has also been a different process for Artscape. It will inhabit, 30,000 square feet within the mixed-use Daniels Waterfront—City of the Arts complex on the former site of Guvernment nightclub. The organization has worked with Daniels twice before, and has also worked before with Quadrangle Architects, who designed the interior of the Corus Entertainment building across the street. But while many of Artscape’s previous spaces have been designed from the ground up to be site- and community-specific, based on intensive consultation with stakeholders, Launchpad will be shaped as a project built for export.
“For most of our projects, we’re trying to make them as unique as possible,” says Jones, “Launchpad is a different kettle of fish for us because, if this model works and is effective in serving the needs of a broader group of people and growing their entrepreneur skills, then this is the one project that we’ll start to replicate across the country and around the world. The issues we’re addressing here are faced by other major cities around the world.”
The look and feel of the space will be important to that success. “In some cases we’ve had a light touch, but here we’re looking to develop a stronger design sense,” says Jones.
And what will that sense be?
“That’s a good question. When I can communicate that, I’ll need to write it down,” laughs Jones. “We want it to be really welcoming. We’re dealing with a lot of interesting disciplines that will have to live side by side, making noise and dust, so it will have to accommodate that. Our offices will be located within the complex, so there are a lot of practical considerations along with the aesthetic ones.”
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Tim Jones

City hosts open house showcasing design options for Bloor bike lane pilot this summer

Almost 40 years after Bloor Street was first identified as an ideal candidate for bike lanes, the city is taking another small step toward making it a reality.
At an open house this week, the city will show off possible designs for a pilot project on Bloor Street West between Shaw Street and Avenue Road, opening up the possibility of “Bikes on Bloor” by late summer. After a survey, an earlier open house and many other stakeholder consultations, the city is presenting what it’s calling Option C: a curbside cycle track lane which features separation elements (parked cars or flexiposts) between the bike lane and the traffic lane, as well as between the bike lane and parked cars (the “door zone”). Options A, with no parking lanes at all, and B, with curbside parking have been set aside since the last open house.

 “Bloor and Danforth been sought-after by the cycling community for so long because, as streets in the city of Toronto go, they’re relatively rare: long east-west streets without streetcar tracks that connect a lot of places of origin with lots of destinations, with a vibrant shopping district,” says Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto. The advocacy group has been working on convincing business owners along Bloor and Danforth that bike lanes would be good for them and their customers. They’ve signed up more than 80 businesses who support the project and collected more than 8,000 signatures on its petition.
The city has seriously wrestled with the idea since it commissioned a study in 1992. An earlier environmental assessment of bike lanes on Bloor and Danforth, which was eventually waylaid by Mayor Rob Ford’s administration, was supposed to look at the possibility of bike lanes on more than 20 kilometres of road from Kipling to Victoria Park.
The current initiative is much more bite-sized and, as a pilot project, will be subject to monitoring and re-evaluation. City staff will be making the case that Option C, which will be the focus of Wednesday’s meeting, will provide a more comfortable experience for cyclists, discourage motorists from parking, standing or stopping illegally in the bike lane, provide opportunities to improve the pedestrian environment and streetscape, and eliminate the need for motorists to yield to cyclists to access parking. On-street parking will alternate between the north and south sides to provide “an equitable approach to businesses and residents, and provides drivers with potential parking in either direction.”
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Jared Kolb, City of Toronto

100 affordable housing units proposed for Tippett Road neighbourhood

As part of the plan to regenerate the Tippett Road neighbourhood, City Council will consider creating 100 new affordable homes in the area, at a total cost of $5.65 million.
If approved, the city would spend $2.75 million for 50 affordable rental homes, and share the $2.9-million cost of 50 affordable ownership homes at 36 Tippett Road with the federal and provincial governments and other partners. Working with Build Toronto and developer Shiplake Properties (developing the property as the Rocket Tippett Inc.), which bought the city-owned property from Build Toronto after it was declared surplus, the city would pay for the units with funds from the Development Charges Reserve Fund.
“In addition to the 100 affordable homes at 36 Tippett Road that are the subject of this report, the future developer of the southern portion of 36 Tippett Road will also deliver approximately 50 affordable ownership and 50 affordable rental homes, for a total of 200 new affordable homes on this surplus city site,” states the report that will be considered by executive committee this week and, if accepted, city council on March 30.
The combined funding will assist in providing the homes at more affordable prices to lower-income families and individuals. “Each home will have HOAP [Home Ownership Assistance Program] and IAH [Investment in Affordable Housing Program] loan funds secured by a ‘silent’ no-payment mortgage and the loan be paid back to the City with a share of any capital appreciation if the home is resold,” states the report. “Given the combined value of the assistance, it is proposed that the loans not have a forgiveness date after which the mortgage would no longer be payable if the purchaser remained in the home.”
Planning approvals are in place for building the homes; marketing and construction are expected to begin this year.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto

Gardiner would move north if city accepts "Hybrid 3" option

Last summer, City Council voted to keep the Gardiner Expressway as a continuous elevated freeway through downtown, with direct ramps to the Don Valley Parkway, eschewing proposals to tear down or bury Toronto’s favourite eyesore.

Now council is being asked to pick a particular variation of the Gardiner reconstruction known as Hybrid 3, so the Environmental Assessment can move ahead, since the Gardiner’s eastern surface deck, in its current state, is only expected to last until 2020.

The hybrid option championed by Mayor John Tory has been considered in more detail over the last few months, producing three possible variations. Hybrid 1 will provide tighter ramps in the Keating Channel Precinct but stick close to the Gardiner’s existing route. Hybrid 2 moves the expressway further north to create more space between Lake Ontario and the expressway. Hybrid 3, which also aligns the Gardiner further north, would also widen the rail bridge underpass. At a stakeholder advisory committee and a recent public open house, Hybrid 3 was the best received option.

“Hybrid 3 supports the city-building potential of the Keating Channel Precinct, a planned mixed-use waterfront community that will evolve as the gateway to a revitalized Port Lands and accessible Keating Channel. This would be accomplished by rebuilding the elevated portion of the Gardiner as far north from the Keating Channel as is feasible,” states the staff report. “Implementation of the design would provide unencumbered access to a planned waterfront promenade, better conditions for creating future high-quality park, open space and pedestrian-friendly environments and more valuable development blocks. By comparison, Hybrid 2 would achieve some but not all of the urban design benefits described above. Hybrid 1 would result in a neighbourhood flanked on both sides by rail and expressway infrastructure, bisected by Lake Shore Boulevard and separated from the water's edge by an elevated expressway with associated on/off ramps.”

The staff report, which will be considered by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on February 29, and by council on March 30, says Hybrid 3 would have “the least physical and visual impact on the planned revitalization of the Don River. Implementation of this design would have the least impact on future sediment management activities, as well as the least amount of physical infrastructure, including structural piers, to be located within the river itself (with details to be confirmed at the detailed design stage).”

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto

Central Toronto saw 93 new development projects last year

Development in Toronto and East York overshadowed growth in Etobicoke York, North York and Scarborough last year, but North York’s Committee of Adjustment was pretty darn busy.

In its 2015 annual report, Toronto City Planning department paints a picture in numbers of how much the city is growing and changing. In the district of Toronto and East York, encompassing the “old” city of Toronto including downtown, there were 93 new development projects, 1,408 applications to the committee of adjustment for smaller changes to properties and an impressive 1,833 applications for heritage permits. In North York, there were 63 new development projects, 1,216 applications to the committee of adjustment and 135 heritage permit applications. In the west, in Etobicoke York, there were 53 new development projects, 871 applications to the committee of adjustment and 114 heritage permit applications.

Things were more sluggish in Scarborough, which saw 45 new development projects, 485 applications to the committee of adjustment and 65 heritage permit applications.

But it’s not all about the numbers. The report highlights projects the city sees as game-changers. The Scarborough Civic Centre Library opened last year and construction began on the Guild Inn/Bickford House revitalization, which will bring a new banquet hall, restaurant and community centre to the heritage site about the Scarborough Bluffs. The Steeles–Redlea Regeneration Area Study has been established to create a planning framework for the parameters for future growth of one of the city’s newly designated Regeneration Areas.

On the waterfront, there’s the second phase of revitalization focusing on the port lands, the new Fort York bridge (which will begin construction soon) linking King Street West and Liberty Village to the Fort York neighbourhood, and the launch of Project: Under Gardiner, which will use a $25-million donation from the Judy and Wilmot Matthews Foundation to create public spaces beneath the western Gardiner from Strachan Avenue to Spadina Avenue.

Further north, there’s the Finch and Sheppard Light Rail Transit (LTR) Corridors, where the city is working on an updated planning framework to leverage infrastructure investment prior to the opening of the transit routes.

Just this week, Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx just invited three consortium teams to submit proposals to design, build, finance and maintain the Finch West Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto

Developers propose 29-storey tower for Maple Leaf Quay connector building

One of the one of the first residential developments in Harbourfront may get a facelift—and a new 29-storey tower—if the city accepts a new development proposal.

Completed in 1989, Maple Leaf Quay is currently two 21-storey rental apartment buildings, linked by a three-storey commercial/amenity building, surrounding the Peter Street Basin. Purchased by Coal Harbour Properties in 2013, the dated-looking buildings have undergone an renos estimated at $18 million. But now Coal Harbour wants to go considerably further, replacing the three-storey link at 370 Queens Quay West with a 29-storey tower including a five-storey podium. There would also be additions to the existing towers at 350 and 390 Queens Quay West, creating a combined 343 new rental residential units—248 units in the new building and 95 units in the northerly additions.

“From a built form and urban design perspective, the proposal will contribute to the ongoing evolution and revitalization of Harbourfront and Queens Quay West,” states a report by Bousfields Inc., filed as part of the development application. “The recent building and façade improvements to the existing Maple Leaf Quay buildings have significantly improved the look and feel of the complex and the proposed redevelopment will further elevate its architectural quality, creating an improved and unified design that responds appropriately to its strategic location in the City’s front yard.”

The report says the taller contemporary tower will complement the existing slab-style buildings “creating an interesting and unified architectural composition. At its lower levels, the proposed design will take advantage of its frontage along the water’s edge and will animate the public frontage surrounding the Peter Street Basin.”

City staff haven’t responded yet to the application.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Bousfields Inc.
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