Bayview and Eglinton development – getting down to serious business

Saving old Leaside

In this space in last February’s Leaside Life we described the influx of tall building applications at and within 500 metres of the intersection of Bayview north of Eglinton, and Eglinton west of Bayview. Guess we can blame the coming of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. Well, no, at least not completely.

This whole Ponzi scheme of multiple applications, each new one more audacious than the last, is the result of the province’s overriding (in 2019) the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan (YESP) approved by City Council (in 2018) with specific land use changes to increase density beyond what the City approved – and without any public consultation. Then Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, in making the changes, specifically referenced Bayview and said it was “…missing a whole lot of density.” 

The changes substantially increased heights (to 20-35 storeys) in the Bayview Focus Area, which was intended for midrise development, except close to the Leaside (Bayview) transit station. To date there have been nine applications submitted, including three applications on the west side of Bayview, the latest coming in June, for a 45-storey tower at 1802 Bayview (the car wash site at Roehampton). There are now towers of 34, 34 and 45 storeys on the west side to add to the first Bayview application of 25 storeys on the east side of Bayview at Broadway. The nine applications submitted to date amount to a combined total of over 3,000 units, which is likely 2,000 units over what was anticipated by densities permitted in the YESP!

As Councillor Jaye Robinson said in Leaside Life last month, the pattern is that the applications get appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal, taking the matter out of the hands of the City to make the final decision.

Action is necessary, and is happening at two levels. At a policy level the Leaside Residents Association recently wrote to the Auditor-General of Ontario (AGO) to request an investigation into provincial decision-making concerning the Yonge Eglinton Secondary Plan – OPA 405. In light of the AGO’s Greenbelt revelations, several media articles have suggested that the Greenbelt is not unique with regards to political involvement in land use processes, and that there may be other instances of improper dealings concerning land use decision-making. There have been specific concerns regarding the YESP since its approval in 2019.

At an application level, the community is coming together to oppose excessive development and arranging to seek Party status at the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). We understand that the 1837-45 Bayview application has been settled with concessions by the applicant to reduce height to 22 storeys and several changes to reduce the impact on the neighbourhood such as increased setbacks, changes to balconies, etc. The proposed settlement will go to the OLT in late October. At first blush this settlement appears disappointing from a resident and community perspective, given the enormous effort from Bayview-Broadway Better Planning Inc (BBBPI) and community donors, but it appears to reflect the City’s having to accept the planning reality of provincial approval of OPA 405, and having to deal with the enormous workload increase from the avalanche of development applications, and planning and heritage legislative changes imposed on municipalities in the past five years.

As Jon MacDonald of BBBPI has noted, with the supportive policies of OPA 405 and legislation such as Bill 23 (the More Homes Built Faster Act), developers are motivated and emboldened to push aggressively for maximum heights within the Bayview Focus Area from Eglinton to Broadway. 1837-45 Bayview is the first development likely to proceed under pro-development conditions that promote greater heights and densities around transit nodes. The latest proposals make no planning sense and are even higher than the egregious height range introduced by the province.

The three (much taller) applications on the west side of Bayview logically fall within the ambit of the residents on the west side to take the lead. And they are doing this, forming the Broadway Area Residents Association (BARA) to take on these new developments. The ESSO service station site at 1840 Bayview is up first, with an offer from the applicant to mediate in October. The South Eglinton Davisville Residents’ Association (SEDRA) and Leaside Residents Association (LRA) have agreed to assist BARA with these applications. It is clear that the developments on Bayview and on Eglinton, regardless of locations, will have significant collective impact on the Leaside and Davisville communities. A united front of the three associations working together is essential.     

There is an important piece that has not been addressed to date. The consideration involved in approving individual applications revolves around such matters as height, setbacks, shadows, public space, access, and the like, but the impacts of the buildings once built and occupied are quite different – they involve schools, community centres, healthcare, sewer and water, energy services, etc. The City in its Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan did studies and projections to estimate the impact of the proposed densities. While overruling the City plan and dramatically increasing permitted densities, the province did not undertake any new studies or estimates of the needs of the increased population to be served. This deficiency cannot be laid at the feet of the City but the Ontario government. We look to our elected representatives for help in raising and hopefully addressing these impacts. Otherwise the consequences may be dire for the future of the area.

Bayview/Eglinton Development Applications Summary as of Sept. 1, 2023
Application location # Storeys # Units Units per storey Density (FSI) Application Status
1837-45 Bayview 25 288 11.5 8.70 Appeal by applicant/settlement
1840 Bayview 34 377 11.1 14.75 Appeal by applicant
2-20 Glazebrook 34 434 13.6 13.88 Appeal by applicant
1802 Bayview 45 419 9.1 20.5 Open
Total Bayview North (4) 137 1518 11.1  
501-503 Eglinton 12 174 14.5 6.57 Open
537-543 Eglinton 25 300 12.0 10.61 Appeal by applicant
586 Eglinton 32 249 7.8 13.13 Appeal by applicant
589-593 Eglinton 35 389 11.1 13.42 Open
Total Eglinton Ave. E. (4) 104 1112 10.7  
1779-81, 1783-85, 1787 Bayview 35 373 10.6 8.83 Appeal by applicant
Total 276 3,003 10.3 N/A N/A
NOTE: Does not include: 660 Eglinton Ave East – because it both predates and is outside scope of OPA405 and 1710-1736 because it was unaffected by land use designation changes made by OPA 405.
About Geoff Kettel 221 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), member of the Toronto Preservation Board and Past Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.