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A dozen mid-rise wooden buildings on the way after Ontario code changes

Almost a year ago, new rules came into effect allowing Ontario builders to use wooden construction for buildings of up to six storeys.

It’s a policy change aimed at “increase opportunities for designers and builders to create innovative, flexible and affordable new buildings,” and follows building code changes that took place in British Columbia in 2009. Since then, that province has seen more than 200 wooden mid-rise projects and Ontario builders have watched and learned from what’s happened there.

“Builders are really embracing this change and this new building option. There’s definitely a lot of collaboration happening,” says Pauline Lip, senior technical advisor, Ontario Home Builders’ Association.

Wooden buildings are estimated to cost up to 10 per cent less than buildings constructed from non-combustible materials. By permitting them, Ontario is trying to encourage more mid-rise buildings and increased densification since they may be economically feasible on sites where other types of buildings wouldn’t be. “This has really been the next step in unlocking the intensification targets that support the provincial growth plan,” says Lip. “From the home buyer’s standpoint, we have the ability to provide more affordable housing options that have more innovative design.” The new rules come with strict fire and safety regulations that are currently undergoing the process of being implemented.

Since last January, about a dozen mid-rise wooden projects have come out of the gates across the province and are in various stages of planning and approval. While the first to have broken ground was the Sandman Hotel in Hamilton, a $12-million 209-unit development, Quadrangle Architects is aiming to build the first in Toronto. This month the firm, working with Fieldgate Urban and Hullmark Developments, submitted a building permit application for Heartwood the Beach Condos at 1884 Queen Street East. The 40-unit residential project will have street-level retail and target the city’s Tier 2 Green standards.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Pauline Lip

Broadview school expansion plan would integrate modernized facilities into heritage properties

Riverdale’s Montcrest School wants to expand its facility with a modern extension that will provide an interesting contrast with two of the heritage homes the school occupies on Broadview Avenue.

Montcrest’s 300 students—from junior kindergarten to grade eight—get their education in relatively cramped quarters. The 50-year-old independent school moved to Broadview from the Annex in the 1970s, starting in one leased house on Broadview that was eventually given to the school. As it expanded, the school purchased other homes in the neighbourhood and a couple of decades ago built a more traditional three-stsorey school building in the large adjoining lots backing onto the Don Valley. The leadership team had been looking for other neighbourhood properties to purchase but finally realized they might have to come up with a more creative solution on their existing footprint.

“We want to give our kids, especially in the older grades, the opportunity to have spaces to facilitate the types of learning they’re doing,” says Michael Dilworth, director of advancement. “It will give us more breathing room. Also, there’s the ancillary benefit where we can incorporate an improved art space and music space, which are both in the basement at the moment.” Enrollment might increase by a few dozen, but not much more than that.

The proposal, designed by MontgomerySisam Architects, retains the residential-style properties at 650, 658 and 660 Broadview Avenue but introduces new building forms behind and between 650 and 658 Broadview.

“We have been neighbours in Riverdale for a long time so we were happy to be able to maintain the integrity of the houses along Broadview. I think it will feel very much like the streetscape we have now, enhanced by a beautiful facility. I don’t know if I’d call the glass modern, but it integrates the old with the new," says Dilworth. "When someone is sitting in the art facility, they’ll see the exterior walls of those historic homes.”

The school will be embarking on a fund-raising campaign to pay for the project.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Michael Dilworth

Almost 2,000 homes built on waterfront since 2001

Waterfront Toronto has unveiled its first Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report since 2010, outlining how its redevelopment and reimaging efforts have extended beyond the basics of creating new communities on waterfront brownfields.

So far, the arms-length agency responsible for developing Toronto’s waterfront and portlands has overseen the creation of 496 affordable housing units with another 80 units under construction, with the private sector building 1,405 residential market units so far, with another 1,500 under construction. “The project will ultimately deliver 40,000 new residences, 40,000 new jobs and 300 hectares of public parks, making it one of the largest waterfront brownfield revitalization projects in the world,” states the report.

Four of the new buildings in the 2,000-acre area are certified LEED Gold for energy efficiency and sustainability, with 13 more in various stages of targeting LEED certification. Twenty-five parks and public spaces have been created or improved, and more than 28 kilometres of infrastructure constructed, including new watermains, sanitary and stormwater sewers. There’s been more than 3,600 trees planted and 108,920 square metres of aquatic habitat created.

“Construction projects on the waterfront are faced with complex urban conditions such as contaminated and geotechnically unstable soils, the result of many decades of infilling and high water tables,” stated John Campbell in his last letter as president and CEO. He’s stepping down this fall after 12 years on the job. “Often, outdated and unreliable drawings do not always accurately reflect underground infrastructure during planning and design. In the case of Queens Quay these challenges led to higher than anticipated costs. Lessons learned from past projects are used to inform our approach as we carry forward with waterfront revitalization.”

Waterfront Toronto was launched in 2001 with a 20-year mandate to redevelop the waterfront.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Waterfront Toronto

Province picks AECOM to oversee construction of new downtown courthouse

The province has chosen the Canadian arm of the international architectural firm AECOM to manage the planning, design and compliance of the construction of the new courthouse for downtown Toronto.

Years in the making, the proposed high-rise will bring eight facilities together under one roof on the site of what is currently a parking lot on Centre Avenue, just off University Avenue, saving money and increasing efficiency if all goes according to plan.

“Once completed, the new Toronto courthouse will be a state-of-the-art facility that will enable the province to continue delivering high-quality justice services for generations to come, while creating hundreds of jobs and stimulating our economy during the construction process,” said Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure during the announcement. “We are one step closer to turning this vision into reality.”

The new courthouse's design will feature “video conferencing to allow witnesses to appear from remote locations and in-custody individuals to appear from jail; closed-circuit television to enable children and other vulnerable individuals to appear before the court from a private room; courtroom video/audio systems to allow counsel to display video evidence recorded in various formats and for the simultaneous viewing of evidence; a single point of entry with magnetometers, baggage scanners, continuous video surveillance, and separate corridors for judiciary, members of the public and the accused for security reasons; barrier-free access to all courtroom,” states the news release.

AECOM will be expected to produce a building design that meets LEED Silver standards, with a focus on energy efficiency, healthy indoor environments and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Once the planning, design and compliance aspects are completed, the Ministry of the Attorney General and Infrastructure Ontario will issue a request for qualifications, probably in the spring of 2016, for a team to design, build, finance and maintain the project using provincial alternative financing and procurement methods.

Based in Los Angeles, AECOM has designed, built, financed and operated infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries. Its companies had revenue of $18 billion in the last fiscal year.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Infrastructure Ontario

RDH architects nap two national Architect Awards of Excellence for GTA projects

At last week’s Canadian Architect Awards, Toronto’s Rounthwaite, Dick and Hadley Architects took two of the five top prizes.

RDH won Awards of Excellent for its work on both Brampton Springdale Library and Neighbourhood Park and the new Eglinton GO Train station.

“They’re both completely different projects but the office has a consistent language and conceptual approach that’s reflected in both of them,” says Tyler Sharp, a principal at RDH.

Both projects do also share triangular influences. Although the Springdale Library is designed to organically blend with the park around with an amorphous edge where some of the rolling created topography of the exterior landscape is echoed inside the courtyards of the building, its overall shape is a triangle. The actual site is quite suburban and flat, so the hills and landscaping are meant to add interest and a greater level of engagement. A neighbourhood park with a splashpad for kids is separated from a terraced garden, intended for more contemplative uses.

The site for the GO Train station is also triangular, so Sharp and the team balanced that constraint against the perspective of the lines of sight of the train tracks. Compared to the infrastructure projects of the past, RDH was able to bring real imagination to the design. The tech specs on the station match other GO stations, but there was room to be creative.

“I think one of the reasons the Eglinton station was chosen was GO and Metrolinx’s attempting a paradigm shift in putting quality of design at the forefront of their projects,” says Sharp.

The Architect Awards recognize unbuilt work. Construction on the library and park project is expected to start soon with completion as early as the end of 2016. The Eglinton GO station has yet to be tendered is expected to be completed in 2017.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Tyler Sharp


Residents turn up the volume on Davenport Diamond concerns as Metrolinx pushes January deadline

People living near the Davenport Diamond rail crossing have stepped up their campaign to get Metrolinx to consider options other than a proposed overpass intended to increase rail traffic through the neighbourhood.
Last spring Metrolinx announced its intentions to build an elevated structure of more than 1.4-kilometres in length in order to increase the frequency of GO trains along its north-south Barrie line, which currently crosses CP tracks north of Dupont Street. The provincial transportation authority dismissed the possibility of a trench or tunnel, which it said would be more expensive, and initially reached out to residents to consult on mitigating the impact of the overpass with community projects and recreational facilities.
Twice this year, the City of Toronto asked that the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP), difficult to change once underway, be delayed until the spring so city planners could more closely examine the proposal. In October, Metrolinx agreed to the delay but backtracked on November 12 when Bruce McCuaig, president and chief executive officer at Metrolinx, sent the city a letter saying the TPAP needed to start in January, “citing any postponement beyond January would result in delays to increase transit service and electrify the corridor within the 10-year program established by the Province of Ontario,” states a city backgrounder.
“City staff have reviewed a number of Metrolinx documents and received additional information on the assessment of alternative solutions to the grade separation, including the trench and tunnel options,” states a November 16 city report. “Based on the information provided to date, city staff have determined the tunnel option, on balance, represents greater long term city-building benefits compared to the overpass option. The key benefit of the tunnel is the removal of visual and noise impacts compared to the overpass, and the translation of these benefits into positive long term societal impacts. However, additional time is required in advance of commencing the TPAP process to continue this assessment, and to work with the local community to achieve a balanced solution.”
In the meantime, more than 700 residents have signed a petition and put up yard signs protesting the overpass, which they describe as a “Gardiner for Go Trains.”
“Dozens of volunteers went door to door this weekend, distributing signs, collecting signatures for our petition and spreading the word about what Metrolinx is trying to do here,” Laura Zeglen, chair of the group Options for Davenport, said in a news release this week. “What is extremely troubling is the number of people we meet who had no idea about the overpass plan—or who had been told it was already a done deal.”
Zeglen says the group is not against increasing rail capacity in the GTA. “Expanding transit is important, but so are communities. One shouldn’t have to suffer at the expense of the other.”
City Council is expected to review the issue soon.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Sources: Laura Zeglen, City of Toronto

Public art project at new Finch West subway station featured at IIDEXCanada conference

The public art component of the six new stations of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension aims to go beyond decorative subway tiles, integrating an artistic experience into the architecture itself.
At a seminar at IIDEXCanada National Design + Architecture Exposition & Conference this week, two of the project leads on the Finch West subway station design will discuss how bringing the artist on board early in the planning process radically changed the look and feel of the station.
“The extension stations will be destination-worthy,” Brad Golden, principal of Brad Golden + Co., told Yonge Street Media in advance of the presentation. Golden worked on the public art component of all six of the new stations on the $2.6-billion extension, expected to open at the end of 2017. “We really pushed the limits. It’s immersive and spatial, with technology involved. The TTC was phenomenal in allowing latitude of the art expression.” The transit commission invested about $3 million into the extension’s public art program.
Communications technology helped bridge the geographic distance between UK artist Bruce McLean—best known for his cheeky works across a variety of media, including sculpture, painting and film—and the project’s architects and engineers. “The artist was given direct input into the model, which was very efficient and helpful. So we knew right away how it would look. He designed the columns in the public space and the bus canopy,” said Ana-Francisca de la Mora C., project architect at IBI Group Architects.
Golden compared the process to jazz, where collaborators take cues from each other as they bounce ideas back and forth.
“In real, successful collaborations those boundaries between the disciplines really break down in a wonderful way, especially if you have the different design disciplines at the table early enough,” he said. “You can look at that station as a piece of art, as a piece of architecture and urban design. A true collaboration is a crossover.”
IIDEXCanada, which this year takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, attracts about 30,000 attendees with 1,600 exhibitors, 500 speakers and 350 seminars and tours.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Sources: Ana-Francisca de la Mora C., Brad Golden

Council votes on fast-tracking affordable housing in railway lands

Next week City Council will consider fast-tracking construction of rental housing in the railway lands.
The site at Block 36 North, between Bathurst and Queen’s Wharf Road, north of Fort York Boulevard, has been vacant for more than 20 years and has been set aside to use for affordable housing. With Fort York Library and the proposed Project: Under Gardiner public spaces to the south and the new Creek Park to the west, the 0.38-acres site is in a particularly attractive location for developers. The city is hoping a non-profit organization or private company will take the lead on building there.
If council supports the item, the director of the Affordable Housing office would report by June 2016 on a successful non-profit or private-sector partner to develop and operate at least 80 new affordable rental housing units on the site for up to 50 years. With its current zoning, the site could accommodate a residential building of between six and nine stories, but the city could be more flexible than usual on the particulars of a proposal.
The fact-track approach comes out of the city’s Open Door Program, adopted last April, which aims to “unlock opportunities on public land” by creating policies to allow the city to have more flexibility working with housing providers—for example, reduced parking requirements, less red tape and more collaborative in funding strategies. In 2010, council set a goal of creating 1,000 affordable rental and 200 affordable ownership homes annually.

“Progress in meeting our goals was made during the past five years with some 2,792 new affordable rental and 750 new affordable ownership homes being completed,” states the letter to council from Mayor John Tory and councillor Ana Bailão advocating for the program. “But we are falling behind…. At the current pace, by 2020 the city will significantly under- achieve our affordable housing objectives by an estimated 6,810 rental and 734 ownership homes. It is clear the city must refocus its efforts if it is to meet the 10-year affordable housing targets…. We can do better by addressing key factors that reduce the cost of doing business and thereby increase affordability.”
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City Council

Placemaking plans revealed for city�s Port Lands

The City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto showed off some of their placemaking strategies for the Port Lands at a public open house last weekend.
The event was part of a round of public meetings this month to look at three studies of the area that are currently underway and how the various initiatives, like the draft Villiers Island Precinct Plan, intersect and interact with each other and with nearby projects like the Don Mouth Naturalization, the Lower Don Lands Masterplan and the plan for the Film Studio District.
Because of the size of the area is so large—350 hectares, much of it owned by the city itself—planners have broken the Port Lands up into a series of smaller places to figure out how the area should grow and evolve. Planning will have to take into account residential, employment, commercial and industrial uses. For example, in what’s called the Unilever precinct, close to the Don River, just north of Lakeshore Boulevard East, the city expects that there will eventually be 23,500 jobs, with another 9,250 jobs south of Eastern Avenue and 25,000 to 30,000 more jobs in the Port Lands proper. The area is not a blank slate and will remain home to the city’s port, which will influence what springs up around it.
“We’re basically creating a small city within a city,” project manager Cassidy Ritz told attendees. “When you add up [those jobs], that’s 50,000 people, which is bigger than the town I grew up in.”
There are currently seven active development applications within the Port Lands and South of Eastern area including three new buildings at 459 Eastern Avenue, a seven-storey building at 462 Eastern Avenue, a hotel, office and retail proposal for the existing film studio at 629 Eastern Avenue, a review of the former Uniliever site and employment lands with an eye to creating an employment precinct, a warehouse and designer’s studio at 300 Commissioners Street, a low-rise building at 475 Commissioners Street and a high-rise mixed-use building at 309 Cherry Street.
The first plan likely to be ready will apply to Villiers Island, establishing the streets and block structure, height and massing standards, parks and community facilities, public art and urban design standards, affordable housing strategy, heritage preservation strategy, parking provisions and strategies to develop a mix of uses.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source, Cassidy Ritz, Port Lands Acceleration Initiative

Council to vote on official plan changes

The Planning and Growth Management Committee has adopted policy changes to Toronto’s official five-year plan for City Council vote next month.
The amendments to the Healthy Neighbourhoods, Neighbourhoods and Apartment Neighbourhoods Policies aim to “clarify, strengthen and refine the existing policies as they apply to residential lands,” which came into effect in June 2015. The amendments implement the Tower Renewal Program “by promoting the renewal and retrofitting of older residential apartment buildings,” states the staff backgrounder. “The revised policies encourage small scale retail, institutional uses and community facilities at grade in apartment buildings to better serve area residents, particularly on sites that are not within walking distance of such facilities. Community gardens are also encouraged on apartment sites that are distant from shopping facilities offering fresh produce.”
“When you are looking at pedestrian realm, traffic flow, site lines, skylines, things are very different when you take it from an individual site to a complete neighbourhood,” Sarah Doucette, councillor for Ward 13, told the committee at its meeting this week.
Some of the changes are subtle, like adding the words “promoting walking and cycling by” prior to the words “improving streets” in one non-binding section, or better defining the phrase “geographical area.”
Other proposed amendments will have more tangible effects. Developers in mixed-use areas adjacent or close to residential areas would be required to “orient and screen lighting and amenity areas so as to minimize impacts on adjacent properties in those Neighbourhoods” and “locate, enclose and screen service areas, access to underground parking, and locate and screen any surface parking so as to minimize impacts on adjacent properties in those Neighbourhoods.” This possibility attracted the attention of Loblaw Properties Limited and Choice Properties Ontario Properties Limited (CP REIT), which suggested in a letter from their lawyer to the committee that “in order to maintain flexibility for adjacent developments… a range of strategies should be contemplated as opposed to requiring enclosed service areas, which is not always desirable or needed.”
The plan would encourage owners of existing apartment buildings to achieve greater conservation of energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, achieve greater conservation of water resources, improve waste diversion practices, improve safety and security, improve building operations, improve indoor and outdoor facilities for social, educational and recreational activities and improve pedestrian access to buildings. Apartment owners will also be encouraged to create “small-scale commercial, community and institutional uses” at street level on major streets and gardens for growing food on “underutilized portions of open space.”
City council is slated to consider the review amendments on December 9.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Sarah Doucette, Planning and Growth Management Committee

$25 million donation to fund public spaces under western Gardiner

As the city frets about what exactly to do with the eastern end of the Gardiner Expressway, a generous donation from philanthropists aims to transform a western stretch of the expressway from an eyesore into an urban gem worth visiting.
Judy Matthews (herself a professional planner) and her husband Wil Matthews are contributing $25 million toward creating more than four hectares of new public space and 1.7 kilometres of multi-use trails beneath the Gardiner from Strachan Avenue to Spadina Avenue. The project will knit together seven communities with parks, trails and programmable space featuring music, food, the arts, sports and recreation, all sheltered by the ceiling of the five-storey expressway. The spaces will be designed as “rooms” defined by the concrete post-and-beam structures that hold up the Gardiner.
With construction starting next year and the first stage from Strachan to Bathurst slated for completion by July 2017, the project is exceptional not only in scale and imagination but in its ambitious timeframe. Public consultations to hear what locals and Torontonians want to see in the new public space and what it should be called will happen very quickly, marshalled by Waterfront Toronto, which is leading the project on behalf of the city.
“We had been looking for an interesting project, a neglected vacant space that had the power to be a new kind of public space,” said Matthews at the announcement Tuesday. She and Wil were driving forces behind the Toronto Music Garden on the waterfront and the revitalization of St. George Street where it runs through the University of Toronto. “Imagine in winter if you come down to find a skating rink with hot chocolate there.”
More than 70,000 Torontonians live in neighbourhoods adjacent to the project, from Liberty Village to CityPlace, most of them high-rise dwellers dependent on public space to give them some room to move. The project will serve them, but also aspires to be a tourist destination comparable to New York’s High Line, linking attractions like the Molson Amphitheatre, Historic Fort York, Queens Quay and The CN Tower. The donation will be entirely devoted to the design and creation of the spaces; discussion about how to fund the maintenance and programming will take place while construction is underway.
“Toronto is an amazing path now where we’re going to find ways to say yes to things like this,” said Mayor John Tory at the unveiling. Restoration work worth $150 million is currently underway on the structure of the Gardiner itself.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Judy Matthews, John Tory, Waterfront Toronto

Last three Aura at College Park penthouses released for sale

When construction of the Aura at College Park building at Yonge and Gerrard started in 2010, few Torontonians, except the developers and planners, would have guessed the dramatic imprint the 80-storey building would make on the Toronto skyline.
The tallest residential tower in Canada stands apart (and uphill) from the financial district’s skyscrapers, and all the more so since this summer, when they turned on the LED-lighting feature. Designed by Mississauga-based Graziani + Corazza, the bold vertical lines running down the building’s top stories for two hours each night have helped Aura command even more visual attention across downtown.
“It’s been off the charts how much feedback we’ve been getting about the lighting feature. Everyone’s really excited about it, thinking it’s really changed the skyline of Toronto, making it iconic,” says Riz Dhanji, vice president of sales and marketing at developer Canderel Residential, who estimates the feature cost about $1 million. “I’ve been to New York, London and other major cities and haven’t seen anything like it.” (On the other hand, the mall in the Aura’s basement hasn’t gotten nearly such great reviews.)
Though most of Aura’s 994 suites were presold before the building was completed last fall, the three last penthouse units have just been released for sale this week, the last phase of a very, very long rollout. The 80th-floor units range in size from 2,201 to 3,055 square feet and in price from $2.4 million to $3.7 million. Unsurprisingly, they offer fantastic views which Canderel showed off to media during a tour of two of the suites on November 11. “You can’t really appreciate the fact that you’re 80 storeys high unless you see the incredible view. These are really one-of-a-kind suites,” says Dhanji.
Although this is the last big announcement coming from Canderel about Aura, there’s one last amenity residents of the building are waiting on—the city park being redeveloped between Aura and next door neighbourhood College Park. Revitalization of the small square, originally built on top of parking garage in the 1980s, is slated to be completed next spring.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Riz Dhanji

GTA to get 14 new schools

Fourteen of the 30 new schools announced by the Ontario Ministry of Education this week will be built in the GTA, and 11 of the 26 schools being renovated or expanded provincially are also located here.
The province is investing $498 million in new and renovated schools this year, as well as toward 2,135 new licensed spaces for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. That’s an increase over last year’s budget, according to Lauren Tedesco, director of communications to the minister’s office. “This year is unique as well because we included childcare capital funding to build new childcare rooms which are part of the schools.”
Some of the new schools, like the Toronto District School Board’s Davisville Junior Public School, will replace out-of-date buildings on the same site, while others will be new roomier digs for smaller schools that are consolidating. The Davisville project, announced on October 26 but under discussion since at least 2010, will be funded to the tune of $14.7 million, replacing a building built in 1962. The school will host 728 elementary students and a new full-day kindergarten class.
“The boards have just been notified in the last few weeks that their projects have been approved so they will be starting construction soon,” says Tedesco. “There’s a lot of criteria to meet, but the design, the timelines and all of that is up to the school boards.”
Here’s the list of new builds and improvements that will take place in the GTA:
  • Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud, Mississauga, Mississauga
  • Conseil scolaire Viamonde, Richmond Hill, Académie de la Moraine
  • Conseil scolaire Viamonde, Oakville,  ÉSP Gaétan-Gervais
  • Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board, Brampton, Mount Pleasant #1
  • Durham District School Board, Ajax, Mulberry Meadows PS
  • Durham District School Board, Oshawa, Windfields Farm PS
  • Halton Catholic District School Board, Oakville, New North Oakville ES
  • Peel District School Board, Brampton, Countryside Village PS
  • Peel District School Board, Brampton, Credit Valley Sub Area 3 # 1 PS
  • Peel District School Board, Brampton, Mount Pleasant # 7 PS
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board, Scarborough, Cardinal Newman CSS
  • Toronto District School Board, Davisville, Davisville Jr PS
  • York Region District School Board, Stouffville, Stouffville Southeast ES
  • York Region District School Board, Thornhill, E J Sand PS
  • Durham Catholic District School Board, Ajax,  St. James CS
  • Durham District School Board, Claremont, Claremont PS
  • Halton Catholic District School Board, Milton, Holy Rosary CES
  • Halton District School Board, Burlington, Alton Village PS
  • Halton District School Board, Milton, Craig Kielburger SS
  • Peel District School Board, Brampton, Esker Lake PS
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board, Downsview, St Augustine of Canterbury CS
  • Toronto District School Board, Etobicoke, Norseman JMS
  • Toronto District School Board, Agincourt, Terry Fox PS
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board, Etobicoke, St Clement CS
  • York Region District School Board, Richmond Hill, Charles Howitt PS
  • Durham Catholic District School Board, Ajax, St. Josephine Bakhita CES
  • Durham Catholic District School Board, Oshawa, St. Kateri Tekakwitha  CES
  • Durham Catholic District School Board, Pickering, Father Fenelon  CES
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Lauren Tedesco

City buys time on review of Davenport Diamond rail overpass

Metrolinx has delayed the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) for the proposed Davenport Diamond rail overpass after the city complained that it didn’t have enough time to properly review the project and gather community input.
Metrolinx notified the city last spring that it intends to build a 1.4-kilometre rail overpass at an estimated cost of $140 million to avoid the “Davenport Diamond” railway intersection, where commuter trains along the Barrie corridor cross a CN cargo line. Rather than examine alternatives like a trench or tunnel, initial consultations focused how to use the space underneath and around the proposed overpass for community purposes, something that upset many local residents, who see the overpass proposal as a “Mini Gardiner Expressway” through their neighbourhood. If the project followed Metrolinx’s timeline, the TPAP would provide little opportunity for serious input and change.
Over the last few weeks, “discussions between senior City and Metrolinx officials have led to a commitment from Metrolinx to delay issuing Notice of Commencement for the TPAP until the spring of 2016, in order to provide more time for community and City input to an appropriate solution,” according to a memo from the city’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, circulated by Ward 18 councillor Ana Bailão. “This is a significant step forward, and will provide the time necessary to table all of the information needed for informed decision-making on the range of viable solutions, in order to advance the RER program on the Barrie corridor in a manner that is most conducive to rail operations and the residents and businesses of the Davenport area.”
The memo says the city supports transportation expansion but points out that the Regional Express Rail initiative “can also present significant city-building challenges where major infrastructure incursions, such as the Davenport rail grade separation, impact established communities. Given these tensions and the importance of ‘getting it right,’ the City is fully committed to working with the local Councillor and other elected officials, the community and Metrolinx, to define a solution that meets the needs of our community, the City and transit expansion.”
Sam Barbieri, of the group Options for Davenport, says local activists are relieved they’ve been granted more time. “The idea is unprecedented in Toronto. We’ve always said we’re not anti-transit, we’re just anti-bad planning. We’re happy that they’re pressing pause and everybody’s taking a step back to look at this plan,” he says.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Sam Barbieri

Yabu Pushelberg to receive DXI Award

Toronto’s jet-setting design duo George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg will be recognized for their award-winning design portfolio as DXI 2015 award winners on November 7.

DX Intersection, a fundraiser for Toronto’s Design Exchange now in its fourth year, spotlights excellence in the field. As honorees, interior design firm Yabu Pushelberg joins Frank Toskan, co-founder of MAC Cosmetics, who took home the prize last year.

Here in their home town, Yabu Pushelberg are known for projects like the Avenue Road furniture showrooms, The Room at Hudson’s Bay and the Four Seasons Hotel. But they’ve probably been busiest beyond our borders, working most recently on interiors for Ian Schrager’s Miami Beach Edition Hotel, unveiled during last year’s Art Basel, Lane Crawford flagship women’s fashion store in Hong Kong (and before that Shanghai) and Siwilai retail boutique in Bangkok. Upcoming projects where Yabu Pushelberg will be doing interiors for Four Seasons include in a 185-room hotel in Tribeca, New York, and a 263-room hotel in Kuwait, the first Four Seasons offering in that country.

“With offices around the planet but still residing in the six, George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg oversee one of the most recognized design firms in the world,” states the Design Exchange news release.

The duo are also curating “interactive installations and ethereal interventions” at this year’s DX Intersection, which is themed “Kismet.”

Source: Design Exchange
Writer: Paul Gallant
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