1,655 units pro­posed for mid­town

In ad­di­tion to tow­ers, this site will house four mid-size build­ings

North Toronto Post - - News - –– Ge­orge Redak

An al­ready size­able de­vel­op­ment is about to get big­ger: a pro­posal for a mixed-use de­vel­op­ment at 815 Eglin­ton Ave. E. has been re­vised and re­sub­mit­ted to the city.

RioCan, the de­vel­oper on this project, is seek­ing ap­proval from the city to build 1,655 new res­i­den­tial units on the site, 200 more than ini­tially pro­posed in 2016. This means four new midrise build­ings, with heights of six, eight and 10 storeys, re­spec­tively, and four high­rise tow­ers of 18, 21, 36 and 38 storeys, re­spec­tively. The de­vel­op­ment will also in­clude a new pub­lic street, a pub­lic park, some re­tail shops and a com­mu­nity cen­tre.

“It is huge,” said Ge­off Ket­tel, co-chair of both the Lea­side Prop­erty Own­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion and Fed­er­a­tion of North Toronto Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tions.

Ket­tel said that the Lea­side Prop­erty Own­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion has been in­volved with the de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion since the be­gin­ning. As plans were be­ing drawn up, res­i­dents asked for this de­vel­op­ment to be a civic cen­tre with more pub­lic space along the main cor­ri­dors. RioCan has des­ig­nated space for a com­mu­nity cen­tre at the cor­ner of Laird Drive and Van­der­hoof Av­enue, but the res­i­dents are wor­ried that this was sim­ply done to ap­pease grow­ing con­cerns over the lack of ex­ist­ing com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture.

“It is quite a dis­ap­point­ment that we are see­ing such a sud­den in­crease in den­sity and ab­so­lutely no move­ment on mak­ing this a civic plaza,” said Ket­tel.

The lo­cal coun­cil­lor raised con­cerns over the den­sity this large de­vel­op­ment will bring to his ward.

“Ob­vi­ously ev­ery lo­cal politi­cian wants to main­tain the in­tegrity of the neigh­bour­hood they rep­re­sent, in this case Lea­side,” said Ward 26 coun­cil­lor Jon Burn­side. “I think it is too many peo­ple into too small of an area.”

The jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for a de­vel­op­ment at this scale in the Lea­side neigh­bour­hood is based pri­mar­ily on the con­struc­tion of the light rail trans­port (LRT) line con­nect­ing to the Yonge sub­way line. How­ever, res­i­dents and the lo­cal coun­cil­lor be­lieve a de­vel­op­ment of this size is too much, too soon.

“Maybe in 25 years, when we have a down­town re­lief line, it would make sense,” said Burn­side. “But I think this level of de­vel­op­ment is pre­ma­ture given our ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Province of On­tario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horse­shoe, 2017, the area around 815 Eglin­ton Ave. E. is cat­e­go­rized as a ma­jor tran­sit sta­tion area (MTSA). The tar­get that must be reached by 2022 is 160 peo­ple and jobs per hectare. How­ever, even with the LRT on the hori­zon, the prob­lem of tran­sit over­crowd­ing re­mains.

“The pre­dic­tion is that there will be huge con­ges­tion on the Yonge line be­cause of in­crease in den­sity,” said Ket­tel.

Nonethe­less, RioCan is con­fi­dent that its de­vel­op­ment is an ap­pro­pri­ate scale.

“We strate­gi­cally de­signed the de­vel­op­ment to min­i­mize im­pacts to the sur­round­ing neigh­bour­hoods,” said An­drew Dun­can, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of RioCan De­vel­op­ments. “The scale of our de­vel­op­ment pro­posal aligns with the province’s den­sity tar­gets.”

Mov­ing for­ward, RioCan has made a com­mit­ment of en­sur­ing that the con­cerns of the com­mu­nity are taken very se­ri­ously. Given the size of the project, it is ex­pected that this de­vel­op­ment will be­come a cen­tral gath­er­ing spot in this com­mu­nity. This means that close co­op­er­a­tion be­tween de­vel­op­ers and res­i­dents is im­por­tant to both par­ties to en­sure all is­sues are ad­dressed.

“We rec­og­nize and ap­pre­ci­ate the com­mu­nity’s ini­tial con­cerns over our de­vel­op­ment and re­main com­mit­ted to work­ing with them through­out this de­vel­op­ment process,” said Dun­can. “RioCan is fo­cused on em­bed­ding peo­ple, com­mu­nity and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sid­er­a­tions into all of our de­ci­sion mak­ing, and we are proud of the process we have been un­der­tak­ing with the Lea­side com­mu­nity.”

Maybe in 25 years, when we have a down­town re­lief line, it would make sense. But I think this level of de­vel­op­ment is pre­ma­ture.”

The re­sub­mit­ted RioCan pro­posal calls for 1,655 new res­i­den­tial units on the site

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