October 11, 2019
Dear Ward 24 Residents,
“Its like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. You spend a year painting it and you have to start again. It’s a never-ending challenge.” – John MacLeod (died October 3, 1937)
I found a lot of irony in this quote for a couple of reasons. First, I was sitting in my chair in Toronto City Council about to debate a development application in Scarborough when this quote came across my screen. Second, the development application was on Eglinton Ave East, where it intersects with Brimley Road.
The development in question is for 2787 and 2791 Eglinton Avenue East. The link to the report we debated at Scarborough Community Council and the Toronto City Council can be found here:
The site in question is a small strip (no pun intended) plaza, no taller in height than two storeys. The pun because previous tenants included a strip club, a bowling alley, and a bar.
City Council has seen this file twice in a year. We had an extensive debate both times because the developer’s original application was for 6 blocks of stacked townhouses. City Council basically said “Go fix it….and come back”
The developer came back with an even smaller application, 5 blocks of stacked townhouses, an increased parkland area, and threw in some money for what we call “Section 37 Benefits”.
You might thing naturally the developer made the units bigger and took up more space? No…..The number of units decreased, along with the amount of livable space to be created (And no affordable housing either)
The City of Toronto Planning Department at all levels is against this application. There are three major planning parameters they follow:
1. The Avenues Study
2. The Provincial Policy Statement (2014)
3. Growth Plan for The Golden Horseshoe (2017)
Since it violated all three of these three guidelines, I thought sending this project back to the drawing board would be easy……. Turns out I was wrong. The majority of my Council colleagues voted for the lower density 15 – 8.
My motion they voted against:
1. City Council refuse the application to amend the Zoning By-Law for the lands at 2787 and 2791 Eglinton Road for the following reasons:
a. The proposal underutilizes the development potential of the site;
b. The proposed development would set a negative precedent along the Avenue;
c. The proposal has not demonstrated how it will fit into the planned context and vision for Avenues;
d. The proposed development has not demonstrated compatibility with the future Eglinton East LRT; and
e. The proposed development is not consistent with the PPS (2014), conflicts with the Growth Plan (2019) and is not in keeping with the Official Plan.
City Planners would prefer a building 6 – 8 floors in height!
Normally I wouldn’t get too wound up about a planning application in a neighbouring Councillor’s Ward (Gary Crawford) At first glance I wasn’t even initially too surprised it violated three planning studies. What really caught my eye was the fact the next stage of the Eglinton Avenue East LRT from Kennedy Station is supposed to go right by the front door of this application. Immediately adjacent to this site is going to be one of the stops for the LRT!
Approving this a development in its latest rendition sets a horrible precedent not only for Eglinton, but major roads across Toronto. Imagine taking the Eglinton East LRT from the Kennedy Subway Station looking at all kinds of tall office towers and condominiums where strip plazas used to be…..until you get to Eglinton and Brimley and see townhouses??
And maybe more in the future, where present day strip plazas get re-developed, because developers will use this as a planning precedent. “Build quick and get out” will be the construction mantra.
Continue your trip the rest of the way along Eglinton Avenue East from Bellamy Road to almost Morningside Ave, (This is my Ward) where a large number of developers are sitting on properties, waiting for the green light on LRT construction.
Many have told me when this happens, they will have a shovel in the ground.
To get an LRT from Kennedy Station to the Pan Am Aquatic Centre we need higher density….and politicians with the vision to make it happen!
All my Best,