Laird Centre shocker

Saving old Leaside

A construction crane in Leaside.
A construction crane in Leaside.

The usual pattern of development applications goes like this: start with sky high towers and density, and in response to pressure from the public and the City, heights and density are lowered to something more moderate. And, of course, an OMB (now LPAT, or Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) decision may seal the deal.

But in the Laird Centre (Canadian Tire site) development, RioCan submitted a revised development application on July 31, 2018 which has increased density compared with the original 2016 application. The plans also fail to create a new civic plaza for Leaside as requested by residents.

Why should residents be concerned?
Seven towers – three mid-rise (6, 8 and 10 storeys) will line Eglinton Ave. and Laird Dr., and four high-rise (18, 21, 36 and 38 storeys) in the centre and east of the site. There are now four high rise towers proposed instead of three.

Increased density, reduced amount of public parkland, no public plaza.

Lack of sky views.

Total of 1,655 units (representing a projected population increase of over 3,000 from this one application), up from 1,435 units – a 15.3% increase.

Issues of traffic, lack of space in local schools, shadowing of neighbourhood remain inadequately addressed.

What can we do about it?
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The RioCan at Laird application is supposed to be in line with the City’s Laird in Focus Plan. Laird in Focus is in the “Proposals” stage and will be coming back to City Council for final approval next year. There will be another round of public consultation this year. Please watch out for this and be there.
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The application will be coming to Council for approval in 2019. Staff will write a report recommending either approval or refusal. Unless something happens between now and then to significantly change the application, we recommend that you tell the councillor to oppose this.
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The RioCan Laird application is already at the Ontario Municipal Board. The LPOA recently attended the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and requested to upgrade its status in the case to become a Party. This request, which was approved, means that the LPOA will be able to hire a lawyer and planner to assist it to make its case. But as you can imagine, this is very expensive. Please help the LPOA to underwrite the costs of an appeal.

About Geoff Kettel 101 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), and Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.