Is the Leaside LRT Station site in a holding pattern?

The original Leaside Station design with no high-rise.
The original Leaside Station design with no high-rise.

In the March issue of Leaside Life, we asked: will Leaside be getting an MZO? The provincial government has sparked a firestorm with its frequent use of Ministerial Zoning Orders to force through favoured developments, including one on a provincially significant wetland in Pickering, and – closer to Leaside – The Foundry in the West Donlands, where strong residents’ opposition has, at least for the moment, forced the bulldozers to vacate the site. 

But did you know that the City, with its Housing Now program, has authorized several modular housing projects (the nearest to Leaside at the Stan Wadlow Arena in East York) pre-approved to proceed with MZOs? The City argues they need to create modular (supportive) housing units in rapid fire time to meet federal funding deadlines. There will be prior community consultation…not on “whether” but “how.” 

What’s happening with the Leaside Station site? We wrote to City of Toronto Chief Planner Gregg Lintern in February. Here’s what we learned from him and other senior staff: 

• “There is a public record from Metrolinx (MX) that the corner site at Eglinton and Bayview has been contemplated for some form of development given the station was designed to position structural supports and other requirements to allow for future unspecified overbuild.” 

• “We have enquired with MX regarding a potential development on the proposed site. While there have been high level discussions between MX and a potential developer, there has been no formal development proposal shared with MX at this time. We are not aware of any current commercial discussions between Metrolinx and a developer.”   

• “A developer would need to make a formal application to the City of Toronto and follow the regular development process for the site and any related lands.”   

No mention of the MZO issue – will the consultation be like the City’s supportive housing project? Remember neither the Bayview in Focus plan nor Midtown in Focus changed the zoning status of the Leaside station site (Mixed Use) or “the quads” (Neighbourhood). 

What about the quads south of the station site, and their tenants? Recall the tenants in 1783-85 Bayview were threatened with eviction. We did not get any response from the Housing Secretariat, and arranged for some help from the Don Valley Community Legal Services. The tenants have reluctantly agreed to move, effective June, 2021. This would allow Metrolinx to transfer the building to the owner of 1779-81 Bayview.  

We’ve had no response to our request to list and designate the second quad (1779-81 Bayview). We’ll continue to demand action from Heritage Planning. (Councillor Robinson has asked about this as well.)

Right now, we’ll continue to monitor this closely. Stay tuned.

About Geoff Kettel 148 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.