It takes planning as well as heritage to save the 
Talbot Quads

A Talbot Quad. Photo by Robin Dickie.
A Talbot Quad. Photo by Robin Dickie.

Some good news for Leaside heritage! We are well on the way to saving the Talbot quads! This story picks up from the March Leaside Life story, which dealt with 1755-1757 Bayview Ave., the quad threatened with demolition and replacement by two semi-detached dwellings.

When faced with the City’s Intention to Designate, the owner agreed not to demolish, to respect the noted heritage attributes, and add a third floor, set back from the front portion. This plan was approved at an amicable settlement hearing on May 28th attended by the owner, the City, a neighbouring owner, and the LPOA. Interestingly, the very next day the building was put up for sale – with plans for renovation! And the City followed up with the Metrolinx property at 1783-85 Bayview, and Council passed the intent to designate on May 22nd. Can designation of the remaining eight quads be far behind?

Saving the Talbot quads is also about land use planning, not just heritage. The Midtown in Focus Planning Study, charged with producing a draft secondary plan for the whole Yonge and Eglinton area, was recently extended to include the east side of Bayview. It then recommended that the block north from Parkhurst Blvd. to Eglinton be re-designated from Neighbourhoods to Mixed Use. As Neighbourhoods, there is a four-storey height limit, whereas under the proposed Mixed Use designation, the Plan assigned a height of seven storeys (plus one additional storey subject to conditions). The planners’ argument: how is it reasonable to have these properties continue to be designated as Neighbourhoods so close to the Leaside LRT station and subject to Growth Plan intensification directives? In response the LPOA made several counter-arguments for remaining as Neighbourhoods rather than re-designation as Mixed Use:

1. Retail (at grade) is a primary characteristic of the Mixed Use land use whereas these properties are entirely residential. In addition, the slope of the land from Parkhurst to just before Eglinton makes it unsuitable for retail uses.
2. Immediately behind the quads is Talbot Park, specifically the baseball diamond, located well below grade due to the ravine of the former Walmsley Brook. To minimize shadowing on the baseball diamond, it is essential to maintain low-rise rather than mid-rise or high-rise on Bayview near the park. Conversion to Mixed Use would cause serious shadowing on the diamond and park. (Avoidance of shadowing on public parks is a key principle in “good planning.”)
3. It is unclear or unknown whether Mixed Use (and 7-plus storeys) is compatible with heritage designation of the quadraplexes (2 storeys). Conversion to Mixed Use would make retention of the heritage attributes problematic. As noted above, in the one case where the heritage attributes of a designated Talbot quad were tested, the two-storey format was retained with a third storey added behind.

Councillor Burnside agreed and supported our recommendation to the Planning and Growth Management Committee. Hopefully City Council will approve the motion to maintain the Neighbourhoods designation for the set of 10 quadraplexes on the east side of Bayview, instead of re-designating them to Mixed Use as proposed by the Plan when it meets later this month.

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.