Bloordale site goes to appeal
Community bands together to fight development process
The Bloordale community was shaken up in 2016 when the Toronto District School Board decided to sell approximately 7.3 acres of public land at the Bloor Street and Dufferin Street intersection. In response to this, a group of concerned citizens formed the Build a Better Bloor and Dufferin (BBBD) association. The group has been campaigning to ensure that the community will play a role in the development process of these lands.
Capital Development purchased the land for $121 million and submitted plans in 2017 for its vision. Since then, BBBD has been actively challenging the developers, already forcing them to alter their original proposal.
The new plans include 2,098 residential units, approximately 169,000 square feet of retail, a one-acre park and a 30,000square-foot community hub.
“Right now what we hope to achieve is to make sure that the land, which has been public land for over 100 years, is used for public good,” said Emily Paradis, co-chair of BBBD. “We are hoping to influence the development process and bring the community’s perspective into that process.”
A pre-hearing on Nov. 5 with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) is scheduled, and BBBD plans to attend. The group wants to ensure that the community’s voice is taken into consideration when deciding on the future of the 7.3 acres of land.
Having failed to block the sale of the land by the Toronto District School Board, BBBD is now focused on using this development in a way that will greatly improve the Bloordale community for current and future residents.
“Personally, I felt robbed,” said Paradis about the sale of the land back in 2016. “How can they just take this land that has been here, an asset that belongs to the community, and just sell it for private development? That is why I got involved.”
For Paradis, who describes this neighbourhood as a “blue-collared community,” the lack of affordable housing being proposed by Capital is alarming.
“If you develop 2,100 condos and not one of them is affordable housing, you are basically creating a gated community,” said Paradis. “And those new properties often drive up the residential commercial rent in the rest of the neighbourhood, pushing longstanding residents out because they can’t afford it.”
BBBD is asking for a 200-unit building of deeply affordable housing to be included in the project. This alongside a 1.5-acre park are a few of the demands being made by the community.
Additional funds are also needed, BBBD argues, to expand the community hub being proposed and to create an adequate replacement for Bloor Collegiate Institute, in which they hope will include amenities such as school gymnasiums, auditoriums and swimming pool.
Inspired by the work of this community, Camila Garcia, a filmmaker and journalist based out of Toronto, made a short documentary about the redevelopment of the school lands called Bloor-Dufferin.
“I saw hope in all of them, hope to do the right thing,” said Garcia about her experience while making the documentary. “I saw that they are using this issue to set a good example for the rest of the city, to set an example in terms of sustainable development.”
Witnessing the commitment and dedication of BBBD led Garcia to take on this passion project. Along with her partner Pedro Miguez, a Toronto-based cinematographer, the two brought attention to the battle BBBD members are undertaking.
“We wanted to bring awareness and to help them,” said Garcia. “To help raise this issue, have these dialogues, start the conversation with other people. That was our intention with the documentary.”
Capital Developments did not respond to requests for comment.
How can they just take this asset that belongs to the community and just sell it for private development?”
Emily Paradis, co-chair of the Build a Better Bloor and Dufferin association