Look who’s coming to Leaside? Hyde Park

The proposed towers of Hyde Park.
The proposed towers of Hyde Park.

You know it now as the home of Staples, HomeSense, Marshall’s, 2001 Audio Video, and Robert Lowrey, piano experts, but the Hyde Park Plaza site at the southeast corner of Eglinton Avenue and Brentcliffe Road has a different destiny – to become the home of perhaps 3,000 people. 

The plan for the plaza submitted to the City by long-time owner Hyde Park GP Inc. includes four residential towers of 16 to 28 storeys, ground floor retail, new public roads and two privately-owned, publicly accessible public spaces (“POPS”). There is also an off-site public parkland dedication and westerly expansion of the existing public park (Leonard Linton Park) to approximately Aerodrome Crescent, adjacent to the redevelopment site on the south side of Vanderhoof Avenue.

The City held its virtual community consultation on this application on April 4th. The issues raised by those attending echoed many of those raised by the Leaside Residents Association in its submission to North York Community Council on the preliminary staff report: 

Tower heights and plan layout

Herbert Behrend from the Scenic Condos (east of the site) and residents of Thursfield Crescent (north of the site) expressed concerns about shadowing from the proposed four towers.

While appreciating the contribution of the extensive POPS to the open space on the site, there are also concerns about the proposed private (rather than public) east-west road, and whether this would reduce the opportunity for full tree growth and constrain future use of the space. 

Mixed Use designation and “live-work” community

The provision of retail at the base of certain of the buildings which are otherwise residential does not meet the intent of the Mixed Use designation, especially given that these are former Employment-designated lands, located across Vanderhoof from existing Employment-designated lands. In the case of the RioCan lands (815-845 Eglinton Ave. East), the final approved plan included a 6-storey office building. (Admittedly, the RioCan lands continue to include a portion of Employment Lands, which the Hyde Park lands do not.)

Yes, the development is close to and driven by the arrival of the Eglinton Crosstown. However, it should strive to be a true “live-work community,” with a significant employment producing component on-site, other than just retail.  

Traffic issues from the interface of industrial and residential uses

The Brentcliffe and Eglinton intersection acts as a major exit (eastbound to the Don Valley Parkway) for truck traffic from Leaside Business Park businesses. However, the Hyde Park development is expected to bring a major increase in pedestrian traffic using the intersection, especially as the Brentcliffe and Eglinton intersection is on the direct walking route to the nearby Laird LRT station. Mary Chong, spokesperson for the Leaside Business Park Assn (LBPA), in her comments recognized this concern, and suggested that the safer corner design proposed by the Renew Overlea Plan for the Beth Nealson/Thorncliffe Park Drive/Overlea Boulevard intersection would be a good model to emulate.

Vanderhoof greenway and ravine link

The approved Laird in Focus Plan (OPA 450) included important streetscape and other green improvements that need to be activated as part of this development. Vanderhoof Ave. should connect to existing and future parks and open spaces, and provide:

  • A multi-use path and sidewalk on the north side of Vanderhoof
  • Additional trees within the setback area to create a double row of trees as envisioned by OPA 450.

Creation of an all-weather trail connection from Vanderhoof to the West Don Trail would open up an amazing “loop trail” opportunity for new residents, and create nearby access to longer distance trail options.  

Affordable housing

While the Leaside (Bayview) Station lies within what the City is calling the Protected Major Transit Station Area (PMTSA), it appears the Laird station is not. This means that the Hyde Park development project, lying as it does in the radius of the Laird LRT station, will not be part of Inclusive Zoning and its affordable unit requirements. It appears that the only provision for affordable housing in the development would be as a result of allocated Section 37 funding, not as a City requirement.

Service impacts

With a total of over 4,000 units in the three new tower developments in Leaside East (815-845, 939, and 943-963 Eglinton Ave.), we may expect an additional 8,000 residents or more. There is widespread concern over the adequacy of existing community services and physical infrastructure to support all the development projects along Eglinton Avenue. For example, there is presently insufficient capacity in local schools.

Want to learn more about the major developments along Eglinton in Leaside that are linked to the coming of the Eglinton Crosstown? Join Geoff on a Jane’s Walk on the weekend of May 6-8th. For more information: www.janeswalkfestivalto.com/festivalschedule.

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.