Revisions make it better, but is that enough?

939 eglinton ave. Development proposal june 2016
Revised 939 Eglinton Ave. Development Proposal

The Diamondcorp proposal for 939 Eglinton East (at Brentcliffe), the largest development application ever in Leaside, has been revised.

The original plans for 1,500 residential units has been reduced to a now proposed 981 residential units. What would have been, four towers, two with heights of 19 and 24 storeys connected by an 8-storey mid-rise building, and two with 31 and 34 storeys, connected by an 8-storey mid-rise building is now proposed as three towers of 14, 19 and 31 storeys connected by a 9-storey podium fronting Eglinton and Brentcliffe, representing 800,000 sq. ft. of density. The south portion of the existing building is retained as commercial with the addition of a new 0.2 acre mini-park.

The revised proposal has somewhat reduced density, and the design is improved and this has apparently impressed most of the working group members. However, in parallel to the deliberations of the working group, the LPOA, in conjunction with Councillor Burnside, conducted a comprehensive resident survey with respect to 939 Eglinton East (see Leaside Life June 2016). An overwhelming majority (92.7 per cent) of the almost 2,200 respondents didn’t think the earlier development proposal which included buildings over 11 storeys was appropriate for Leaside. Only 5.5 percent indicated that they supported the original Diamondcorp proposal.

In a June 15 letter to City Planning regarding the revised proposal, the LPOA concluded that “the proposed massing of 1,000 units, and tower heights ranging from 14 to 31 storeys, is inappropriate for this property and contrary to Official Plan policies for Mixed Use areas. A mid-rise form of development and density would be more appropriate for the subject property.”

We are now in Year 3 of Diamondcorp’s development application for 939 Eglinton East. Back in 2013, when they first applied for their OP amendment, City staff should have told them that the application represented a proposal for a major new community within Leaside, and that a secondary plan or detailed set of planning policies, developed with input from the community, would be needed to guide such a development, as required by section 3.3 of the Official Plan. They didn’t.

What Diamondcorp is permitted to build is not only important in itself, but it represents an important precedent, influencing RioCan’s pending residential development application for the nearby Canadian Tire site, and future redevelopment of the adjacent Hyde Park Plaza.

The much delayed Laird Focus Area Study (which includes the several large land parcels between Laird and Aerodrome Cres.), which is intended to “guide future development by providing direction on building heights, massing, transition” and many other variables, is finally set to begin. (See LPOA website for details on Open Houses.) Such an important policy commitment should be honoured and completed before this critical development proposal is reviewed.

What happens next? The concepts presented to the working group are not yet reflected in a revised application to the City, and as such have no official status. Diamondcorp has appealed to the OMB regarding the failure of the City to make a decision within the time limits set out.

On Wednesday September 7 at the LPOA’s monthly directors’ meeting Stephen Diamond will be attending to present his revised proposal. All are welcome.

Councillor Jon Burnside is planning a meeting in the near future – watch the LL and LPOA websites for more information. These meetings represents YOUR opportunity to have your say on the 939 Eglinton development. Please plan to attend one or both meetings.

The presentation to the working group and some detailed drawings are available on the North York Planning website: (search 939 Eglinton).

About Geoff Kettel 222 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.