We’ll soon see if we have a battle on our hands

2 Laird Dr. Former Postal Station R.

Another development site. Another condo application.

Does it have to be this way?

I have been told that Leaside residents don’t want their city councillor to explain things to them. They want their city councillor to tell them how he intends to fight to protect their interests.

Let’s try a bit of both.

About a decade ago the city adopted an official plan in accordance with provincial law. That official plan designates 2 Laird – the former post office site – as suitable for mixed use development. Which means, essentially, that the property owner is entitled to pursue a range of development options (residential/ office/retail/etc.) or a combination thereof.

It also carries with it the expectation that any development on the site should provide a suitable “transition” to its neighbouring land uses.

The new owner of 2 Laird has declared its intention to build a midrise residential condominium. Its going-in proposition was for five stories of brick construction that would generally match the height of the existing multi-residential buildings in the area, and three glass-walled levels above that.

My comment to the applicant at the time was, “Well, of course that will fit right in with all the other eight-storey buildings in Leaside, won’t it?” (There aren’t any.)

“But did you happen to notice the two-storey single family dwellings on Malcolm immediately to the north of your property, and the three-storey town houses on the other side of the laneway to the west?”

I have told the applicant and I have told the community that the present application will not fly.

I have invited the residents of the immediate neighbourhood – Malcolm Rd. and Krawchuk Lane – to join me in a working group to respond to the applicant’s proposal. I have encouraged them to make the community’s priorities and concerns known.

The issues centre on matters of traffic (of course), size and bulk, shadowing, management of building systems (e.g. garbage collection challenges), overall appearance, and relationship to neighbouring dwellings.

For my part specifically, I have told the applicant that I want a total height no greater than the highest level already in the vicinity, generous setbacks and landscaping, terraced townhouse-type treatments facing across from the existing townhouses on the lane, and ample setback and terracing to buffer the impact of the development from the first home on Malcolm to the north.

I have also told the applicant that I favour fewer, larger units rather than more, smaller ones. (As it turns out, the intended market – Leaside empty nesters – has delivered the same message. This is a good sign.)

I have put forward a few other demands. For example, the existing townhouses facing Krawchuk Lane open directly onto the lane itself, with no sidewalk. I don’t know how that design got approved. I want the new development to accommodate a reconstructed laneway that provides the sidewalk that should have been there in the first place.

The ball is now back in the applicant’s court. We will soon find out if the applicant got the message, or if we have a battle on our hands.

Article written by John Parker, Councillor, Toronto Ward 26.