Leaside LRT station site update (part 2)

Photo from Geoff Kettel.
Photo from Geoff Kettel.

Earlier this year (Leaside Life, March, 2021), we asked: “Will Leaside be getting an MZO?” for the tower proposal expected at the Leaside (Bayview) LRT station site. A Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) is not due process! At the time of writing (mid-August) we are still no nearer to answering the question but it’s time for an update.  

To summarize the issues

We believe Metrolinx wants to develop the station site and one of the “quads” south of the station site as a high-rise tower development. Metrolinx has admitted that Leaside Station is being built with additional structural elements to accommodate future development. These additional structural supports are visible on site: the concrete columns, beams and slabs are sized to support a significant future structure and are typical for the base of a high-rise tower. The roof slab in the photo transitions from about 18 inches’ thickness to 4 feet or greater. 

So, what’s the issue? Simply, the southeast quadrant, including both station site and the quads south of the site, is unsuitable for high-rise development. Although the Bayview Focus Area Plan (2015) and OPA 405 both indicate that the area (i.e. the four quadrants) will include high-rise development, the southeast quadrant is unsuitable because of its location adjacent to Talbot Park, which itself lies two storeys below grade. High-rise development on the site would negatively affect the adjacent public recreational space (two baseball diamonds) and Leaside High School grounds and running track. It was always understood that the northwest corner (the Metro site), and to a lesser extent the northeast quadrant (Sunnybrook Plaza), were the most feasible and suitable locations for development in the Bayview Focus Area.  

When we questioned the City in April we were told: “Metrolinx has made it clear to the potential developer that they will need to submit all the necessary development information and make a formal application to the City of Toronto and follow the regular development process with City Planning for the site.”

The second issue is the status of the two Bayview quadraplexes (“quads”) south of the station site, which we believe a developer needs as part of a development. The 10 Bayview quads were each nominated for heritage listing in 2011.The northernmost property – 1783-85 Bayview – is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act  (2018) and is also a “Provincial Heritage Property.”

Metrolinx called a meeting with the Leaside Residents Association, which was held on July 12, to consider the “Heritage Impact Assessment for 1783-85 Bayview.” However, the meeting was substantially different from what we had been led to believe and turned out to be about how the heritage building should be commemorated once demolished! The LRA did not agree to this change in focus, and instead submitted questions to Metrolinx regarding its process and whether the group is following the province’s own heritage policies, given the quad’s status as a “Provincial Heritage Property.” At the time of writing, we had not received responses to those questions.

By now you may see our strategy – it continues to be to hold Metrolinx and the province to account for their planning and heritage practices, and partnering with the City to make sure we are aligned in ensuring that city planning and heritage planning processes are followed. Councillor Jaye Robinson is currently arranging a meeting with all the departments involved. We need a united front. And we think we have one. 

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.