Letters – November 2017

Re: Laird in Focus Phase 2 Alternative Development Options,

This is a “collective nudge” to encourage the Leaside community to offer your views on the Alternative Development Options currently proposed by the Laird in Focus (LIF) Planning Study and presented at a public meeting on Oct. 17 at Leaside United Church.

The LIF Study is intended to “guide future development by providing direction on building heights, massing, transition.” While the study got off to a positive start with thoughtful community input and constructive dialogue, unfortunately, it now appears it is failing to provide the type of analysis and range of appropriate development options the community needs. (We will focus here only on Study Area A and leave Study Area B and the transportation portion for comments another time.)

The options presented for Study Area A (the block from Laird to Aerodrome, and Eglinton to Vanderhoof) are three similar mid-rise/tall building scenarios with key elements largely the same as those presented conceptually in the Eglinton Connects background material over two years ago. Uniformly high densities (FSIs of 3.67, 3.69 and 3.7), as well as a high proportion of residential uses compared with employment (industrial) uses are proposed.

Is it a coincidence that the final density approved for 939 Eglinton Ave. (Diamondcorp) happened to be 3.67, resulting from three towers of 9, 14 and 31 storeys? Given the scenarios presented by the study consultants, it would appear only the mid-rise/tall building model is open for discussion, and the densities are to be in line with the one parcel for which approval has already been given.

Following lengthy community involvement in the 939 Eglinton proposal, City planning staff led the community to believe that the Laird in Focus Study would be the thorough planning study envisioned by the Official Plan for this newly emerging neighbourhood.

Most residents understand that intensification along Eglinton is to be expected given the public dollars being put into the Crosstown LRT and the province’s policy support for such intensification. This does not mean the tall building portion of the proposed model is appropriate for all the parcels fronting on Eglinton within the study area. As one gets farther away from the Laird station, one would expect densities to drop off significantly.

There are also those who feel the development context is changing – there is increasing realization that it is irresponsible to load up Eglinton with density (especially with no TTC “relief line” in sight) when there simply isn’t the transit capacity in the Yonge corridor to handle the additional riders coming from the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

Little thought seems to have been given to creating a cohesive new vision for Study Area A so it can become a major new “core” for the community. What is being presented is a series of similar blocks with little planning basis, other than open space links and roads, of how they might form a cohesive and vibrant new community.

The community currently experiences traffic congestion, lack of school space, pressures on public infrastructure and on community services (libraries, parks, recreational facilities, etc.), and needs to see how such matters will be addressed in any emerging development scenario.

Who will occupy the proposed residential buildings within the study areas? Policies should ensure a wide variety of units will be provided to meet the needs of various age groups and income levels. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to properly plan for schools, parks, community facilities, etc. until it’s determined who the likely occupants of these proposed residential buildings are.

Similarly, what employment opportunities beyond retail should be included within the mixed use areas, envisioned as providing employment and not just residential accommodation. Recent development approvals in the area will actually reduce the amount of office space. Thought needs to be given to emerging trends and opportunities in office and similar employment and how these might mesh with trends and planning intentions in the neighbouring Leaside Business Park.

You can learn more and comment by visiting www.toronto.ca/lairdinfocus or contacting the City’s study consultants and staff planner.

Geoff Kettel, LPOA co-president with Carol Burtin-Fripp

Re: Will Ashworth’s column on Parkhurst/Bayview

Really appreciate Will Ashworth’s campaign for a stoplight at Bayview and Parhkurst. He thinks Parkhurst residents are an impediment, but it’s not like we voted on the matter. I’m a Parkhurst resident near Bayview and vigorously in favour of a stoplight. It’s inevitable. Just a matter of how many twisted wreckages we want to see first.—Greg Eckler

It’s pretty sad that Will has to use such poor expression to try and get his self-serving point across on the Parkhurst street light issue.

Having a traffic “professional” on the street in question doesn’t make that professional any less credible, and the accusatory tone is ironically what diminishes Will’s. Then you add statements like ‘No longer do I feel the Councillor’s solution to impose one-way restrictions at the mouths of both Parkhurst and Soudan will stop drivers from breaking the law.” Why? Because you said so?

If he challenges the Councillor to an experiment, he may want to first attempt it himself. There are four street lights between Eglinton and the Husky station alone. Getting caught at any lights and dealing with traffic and construction are exactly why ‘smart’ motorists use side streets as thoroughfares while consistently exceeding speed limits and blowing through stop signs. THESE are safety issues!

Steve Kanellakis

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