High-rise development at Bayview and Eglinton demands framework plan

Saving Old Leaside

Interest in tall development in the Bayview and Eglinton area went sky-high in 2022. New applications came on the heels of the one for 1837-1845 Bayview at Broadway (25 storeys, November 2021). Development applications for towers have spread east from Yonge to Mount Pleasant along Eglinton and have now reached Bayview. Seven high-rise applications have been received (not counting the Sunnybrook Plaza at 660 Eglinton Ave. East application, in 2017, for buildings a little taller than mid-rise – 11 and 16 storeys). The second application on the east side of Bayview, submitted in November, 2022, is for 1787 Bayview (the overbuild of the LRT station) including the two quads at 1783-85 and 1779-81 Bayview at 35 storeys.  

As Leasiders it’s easy to focus only on the east side of Bayview. But that would be a mistake. Because the west side of Bayview, and both sides of Eglinton Avenue, west of Bayview, have received several tall applications recently:

  • – 1840 Bayview (ESSO station), at Broadway (34 storeys)
  • – 2-20 Glazebrook– part of the row of semi-detached homes built in the 1990s (34 storeys)
  • – 537 Eglinton, at Hoyle (25 storeys)
  • – 586 Eglinton, the medical building (32 storeys)
  • – 589-595 Eglinton, at Mann Avenue (35 storeys)

The above applications represent a total of over 2,400 units, in addition to the 400 units approved at 660 Eglinton Ave. East.  

A pattern is emerging of dense and tall development in the Bayview Focus Area (500 metres around the Bayview intersection). The applications appear to have taken a signal from the 1837-45 Eglinton (Broadway) application and have come in with corresponding or even higher heights. This is a different scenario from what was envisaged in the City’s Midtown in Focus study of high-rise at the core (Bayview and Eglinton intersection) and mid-rise away from the core. This increased intensification can be attributed to the provincial government’s overriding of the City of Toronto approved Midtown in Focus plan with substantially increased heights (25 to 35 storeys) in areas away from the core in their OPA 405. 

The need for a framework plan

This shift means we need to look at the cumulative impacts of the applications as a whole, as well as individually. With this realization in mind the Leaside Residents Association (LRA) has submitted a request to City Planning to develop a “Leaside Bayview/Eglinton Gateway Framework Plan” with a vision that complements the existing community, and a cohesive design approach for the public realm encompassing the various developments at Bayview and Eglinton.

There should be appropriate transition in height and density within the Bayview Focus Area. While significant policy conflicts exist within OPA 405, it appears the Bayview Focus Area is to be developed primarily as a mid-rise area with tall buildings considered in closer proximity to the LRT station. A framework plan is needed for the area around the station to ensure that development reasonably transitions to surrounding lower density areas and results in a “densified” but liveable community that meets the needs of both existing and future residents.

High-rise development on Bayview Avenue and Eglinton Avenue East through Leaside will be transformative. It is a huge departure from Leaside’s early beginnings as streets flanked by single-detached houses and small stores. Even though Eglinton Avenue was extended eastward across the west branch of the Don River in 1957 and widened into an arterial road, the low-density architectural form along the street remains. The high-rises will alter the Leaside plan significantly, separating the low-density streets north of Eglinton Avenue from the low-density streets south of it. 

Leaside is not opposed to high-rise development at the nodes (Bayview, Laird, and Brentcliffe) along Eglinton Avenue East. This was accepted with the development of the Bayview in Focus Plan and in consideration of the Eglinton LRT, and in recognition of the large size of the former industrial lots east of Laird. But this acceptance does not extend to high-rise in the area beyond the core around transit stations, and where transition to low density homes is absent. The results of the Ontario Land Tribunal for 1837-45 Bayview (with the intervention of Bayview Broadway Good Planning) will be precedent-setting for the other applications in the Bayview/Leaside area. Regardless, we need the framework plan to establish some design continuity among the new towers, a lessening of their impact on the surroundings, and the incorporation (instead of demolition) of existing historic buildings. 

LRA’s heritage advisor Paul Dilse suggests collecting examples worldwide of innovative high-rise developments that attempt to complement and respect the existing and historical context. The idea of garden apartments – a feature of Leaside – scaled up massively, such as Moshe Safdie’s projects, could be explored, or this project in Amsterdam: https://www.archdaily.com/989217/valley-towers-mvrdv.

Finally, we need a coordinated approach by residents on all sides of the Bayview/Eglinton intersection. This cooperative approach among residents’ associations has worked well with respect to the mid-rise developments on the west side of Bayview, south of Eglinton, where the South Eglinton Davisville Residents’ Association (SEDRA) has provided the lead, assisted by LRA.

But on the west side of Bayview, north of Eglinton, in the area known as Sherwood Park, there is no functioning residents’ association. LRA and SEDRA badly need a partner there and are cooperating to encourage the organization of a revitalized Sherwood Park Residents Association. An organizational meeting took place on January 11th.

Clearly 2022 brought new challenges to Leaside – 2023 is the year to take steps to address them.

By the way, it’s not too late to support Bayview-Broadway Good Planning with a donation https://www.bbgpi.com.

Leaside Bayview/Eglinton Development Applications Summary As of Jan. 1, 2023
Application location # Storeys Density (FSI) # Units Application Status
Bayview Ave.
1837-45 25 8.70 288 Appeal by applicant
1840 34 14.75 377 Complete application
Dec. 30, 2022
2-20 Glazebrook 34 13.88 434 Appeal by applicant
1779-81, 1783-85, 1787 35 8.83 373 Complete application
Dec. 30, 2022
Eglinton Ave. E
537-543 25 10.61 300 Appeal by applicant
586 32 13.13 249 Appeal by applicant
589-595 35 13.42 389 Complete application
Dec. 23, 2022
660 Sunnybrook Plaza 11, 16 3.62 412 Approved
Total N/A N/A 2,822 N/A

 

About Geoff Kettel 223 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.