Can Focus Plans be challenged?

Saving Old Leaside

Laird in Focus final report.
Laird in Focus final report.

As a participant in the wild world of Toronto planning, one quickly learns to recognize the driving role of the province’s Growth Plan and its direction for intensification around major transit station areas. The aims of 160 persons and/or jobs per hectare for LRT station areas like Laird and Leaside (Bayview), which are minimums (floors) rather than (actual) targets (ceilings), direct the densities being proposed in City planning studies such as Laird in Focus and Midtown in Focus.

At Yonge and Eglinton, despite the growth target having already being exceeded, the drive to intensify further with high-rise buildings continues unabated. And regardless of the “Mixed Use” designation, the buildings will be predominantly residential), not employment producing, increasing the demand for commuting to downtown. (Jobs would act to encourage more of a reverse flow.)

Residents typically have several opportunities to engage with the plans, through public meetings and online comments. The public voices its concerns but mostly resigns itself to the planners’ recommended densities, which ultimately get approved by City Council.

That’s the usual pattern. But not always. The other day at the city committee responsible for planning, a large number of deputants showed up and argued that densities should be reduced on the northeast quadrant of the Midtown in Focus (Yonge and Eglinton) plan. They claimed they had not been adequately consulted, and the densities proposed were too high. Most of the deputants were residents of a single condo, actually next door to the location of at least one of the earlier public consultation meetings. The planners did not make a recommendation either in support or opposed to a motion moved by Councillor Robinson. Anyway, it passed the committee and is on to City Council.

While I have reservations about what happened in this case (for one thing, how can you reduce densities in one quadrant without impacting all four quadrants?), It does raise questions about how concerned Leaside is about densities proposed in Laird in Focus.

Laird in Focus is only at the “proposals” stage; it will come forward for approval in the coming year. Could the same thing happen with Laird in Focus? It is up to you, the residents of Leaside, and the councillor to decide.

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.