Will the introduction of warehouse store giant Costco to Overlea Blvd. lead to a new line up of big box stores there like what has happened to Laird Dr.? And will the traffic affect Leaside? So is this in fact a Leaside issue?
Several Leasiders attending the community consultation on Thursday, Nov. 7 thought so. Let’s take traffic for a start. This is a double barrelled impact – Costco is a destination store and will attract customers from the whole of the Yonge corridor from York Mills in the north to Queen St. in the south and from Bathurst to Victoria Park.
How are they going to get there? Through Leaside of course, from the south and west on Moore and Southvale, and from the north and west on Laird and Brentcliffe and Eglinton. The other barrel is Costco’s unique attraction – its discount gas bar. Line-ups at the gas at Costco’s Scarborough location are legendary. And in Scarborough at least there is reasonable access via the 401 and arterial roads in all directions; in this area, Leaside and Thorncliffe Park access is constrained firstly by the Don Valley and secondly by the rail lines.
The amount of the traffic to be generated is staggering. After some prodding at the meeting the traffic consultant stated that during peak hours there would be an additional 1,800 cars, 320 an hour at the gas bar alone.
But it is the impact of the development on the former Coca-Cola headquarters building, which was “listed” for heritage purposes by the city earlier this year (to be demolished in the developer’s plans), and Overlea (the median will be cut to make new turn lanes) that presents a unique and potentially the greatest loss.
Thorncliffe Park was incorporated into the Town of Leaside in 1954 and developed as a planned complete community. Its motto, A good place to work, live and shop, was embossed on columns that used to stand at the entrance to the community at Millwood and Overlea. Now the one column simply proclaims East York Town Centre.
Interestingly, Gerard Pelletier, the first plant manager when Coca-Cola opened in 1964, lived in Leaside at 62 Parkhurst.
Thorncliffe Park looks pretty much as it did on the drawing boards in the 1950s; Overlea Blvd. remains as the grand curving boulevard separating industry and commercial uses from the East York Town Centre and the apartment-lined horseshoe of Thorncliffe Park Dr.
Despite the city “listing” the building last spring, the developer’s plan is still to demolish the Coca-Cola HQ building. This will be yet another fight to see whether heritage or the development’s demands for a clean start and surface parking (all 607 spaces of it) win out.
City planning is waiting to hear from you…what do you think?