Alan Redway ended his column in last month’s Leaside Life by asking “with more and more residential and commercial development on its doorstep, how long will it be before Parkhurst and our other industries move elsewhere or just close down altogether?”
Well, one of the tools the city has to address these kinds of issues is the Official Plan. The city has just wrapped up its consultation on a new Employment Lands policy. This draft policy proposes two employment area designations: Core Employment Areas and General Employment Areas.
Core Employment Areas are places strictly for business and economic activities for manufacturing, warehousing, transportation facilities, offices, etc. and limited ancillary uses to serve these businesses.
This designation occupies the majority of the employment lands and in Leaside is the area from Vanderhoof south to the Canadian Pacific Railway and along to Beth Nealson south to the hydro lines.
The properties fronting on Laird that in the last 10 or so years have been converting to big box stores are shown as General Employment Areas, comprising about 20 per cent of employment lands.
In addition to all uses allowed in Core Employment Areas, retail service and restaurant business activities are also permitted. Similarly in Thorncliffe Park, Overlea Blvd. is designated as a General Employment Area, which would permit the development of a Costco on the site of the former Coca-Cola Canada headquarters and bottling plant (assuming they are able to work around the heritage designation of the Modernist office building).
In addition, of note are two requests to convert employment areas to mixed use – the south east corner of Laird and Eglinton (815 to 845 Eglinton East), currently the Canadian Tire store). and the southwest corner of Brentcliffe and Eglinton (939 Eglinton East), currently a mix of offices and stores.
This block happens to be a “focus area” under the Eglinton Connects’ project due to the planned LRT station at Laird. Eglinton Connects’ recent open house unveiled a possible concept for the whole block from Laird to Brentcliffe, and Eglinton to Vanderhoof.
This includes mid-block extensions of Parklea and Don Avon, several buildings at the high end of mid-rise, and local park space. With at least one major planning application having been filed it is important for the city to pre-plan the public realm issues (such as connectivity, open space provision, heights, massing) in order to ensure the best solution for the community.
In fact I would welcome the Design Review Panel to consider these applications.