No transition to PO plan

2 Laird
Proposed new building for 2 Laird.

One major development application currently under consideration in our community is the proposal to redevelop the former post office site at 2 Laird Dr.

The new owners have submitted a proposal to demolish the existing building and replace it with an eight-storey residential condominium.

I have joined with local residents to oppose this proposal.

The property comprises the southern end of a line of properties stretching along the west side of Laird  designated for “mixed use” under the city’s official plan. As such, the development site is expected to provide a “transition” to the neighbouring uses. But what neighbouring uses should serve as the transition reference? The single family dwellings on Malcolm Rd.? The townhouses on Millwood? The four-storey buildings in the surrounding area?

The proposed design addresses many of the tests ordinarily brought to bear for a development application. It is hard, however, to see any basis on which it provides a transition to anything in the vicinity.

It should come as no surprise that the owners, sensing probable defeat at community council, have already entered an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.

The owners of the Garden Court apartments (1477 Bayview) caused a stir throughout our community when signage was posted indicating their intention to carry out “demolition” of the residential rental units and convert the development to condominium ownership.

Except that the “demolition” in question applies to the “demolition” of the rental ownership regime, to be replaced by condominium ownership, not the demolition of the actual structures themselves.

Being a proposal to reduce the availability of rental accommodation in the community, the proposed conversion requires municipal approval. Such approval requires proof either (a) that the community has a lot of rental accommodation already (we don’t) or (b) that the rental units under consideration are “high rent” (they aren’t).

It also requires that the owner file a complete application. As of the deadline for this column, city staff indicated to me that the application remained incomplete.

There are a host of reasons why ownership conversion might not be in the interest of tenants. I will be working with city staff to resist this application vigorously.

Leaside residents will recall the battle to save the Talbot apartments on Bayview from demolition a few years ago. Talbot residents now face another challenge: notices to vacate slipped through their mail slots, this time on the basis that the landlord intends to carry out major renovations.

Although the commitment to improve the buildings is a welcome sign, the landlord’s efforts to empty the units to do so is heavy handed and unsettling to the tenants, many of whom have made their home there for years.

I have explained to Talbot residents that they need not bend to the landlord’s demands or time lines. The landlord must first prove its case for vacant possession before the tenant tribunal. Again, I am working with staff to protect the tenants’ interests.

Article written by John Parker, Councillor, Toronto Ward 26.