“Bully application” meets a community united

"Say no to bad planning" sign. Photo by guest contributer.
“Say no to bad planning” sign. Photo by Geoff Kettel.

“I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.”

That response was from the developer’s planner Michael Goldberg, at a May 5 virtual community consultation meeting, in reply to LRA board member Doug Obright’s outline of the planning confusion created by the changes introduced by the province, which made the application possible.

In a nutshell, the confusion is about whether the Bayview Focus Area is to be predominantly mid-rise, or whether tall buildings (up to almost six times higher than envisioned by the City for the subject site) are to be permitted everywhere in the Bayview Focus Area, even next door to one- and two-storey residential buildings on lots designated “Neighbourhoods.” The developer behind 1837-45 Bayview feels he is entitled to 20-35 storeys anywhere in the Focus Area. Goldberg earlier stated that “the policy allowed 20 to 35 storeys, and we are at the lower end of that.”

In 2018, the City adopted the Midtown Secondary Plan (Official Plan Amendment 405), which among other matters included updated policies for the Bayview Focus Area, including that it be predominantly mid-rise (5-12 storeys), and that development on the block which includes 1837-1845 be a maximum of 6 storeys in height. In approving the Midtown Secondary Plan in June 2019, the province made 194 modifications, among them, one which allows proposals between 20 and 35 storeys to be considered within the Bayview Focus Area and another one which deleted the 6-storey maximum height restriction on the subject property,

Now the City has to decide which interpretation of the Midtown Secondary Plan to adopt – should a mid-rise or a tall building be placed on the site? Their decision will set precedents for several other sites on Bayview. Of course, in Ontario where cities are “creatures of the province,” the matter does not end there. The developer has already appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). So, that’s likely where the decision will be made. We know the councillor will stand with the community and vote for refusal. But it is vital for residents to also have a staff report solidly in opposition. There is already a recent precedent for having both a staff report in opposition, and the City refusing an application for a 25-storey tower in the Bayview Focus Area – at Eglinton and Hoyle (537-543 Eglinton Avenue East). Naturally, that one is headed to the OLT as well.

What else happened at the community consultation? There was a great turnout (over 150 participants), with statements and questions from a dozen residents covering a range of issues, including the impact on St. Augustine of Canterbury Church and the Nursery School, residents faced with shadowing, traffic issues, pedestrian safety at the Broadway crossing of Bayview, absence of affordable housing, and concern about the helicopter route to downtown hospitals to and from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, as well as infrastructure issues. Trustee Rachel Chernos-Lin named the schools in the area that are already at or above capacity. In the end there was a concern that this application would lead to a “cumulative problem”: high-rise development would not be contained at the station site, but would spread far and wide in North Leaside. Just one voice of support (evidently from interest group More Neighbours) calling for “more housing.”    

There is an active campaign related to this development proposal. You can join Bayview Broadway Good Planning by emailing , grab a lawn sign, and write to planner on the file, Jason Xie, at , copy to Councillor Jaye Robinson at .

About Geoff Kettel 222 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.