We must save our uniqueness

Vibrant main streets are an essential component of our midtown neighbourhoods. Retail strips with a strong core of independently owned businesses make our community more livable and walkable as opposed to big box stores.

As we continue to work to improve our Bayview main street, especially with efforts to organize a Business Improvement Area, we must also work to help ensure that development doesn’t take away from the unique character of the area.

In particular, my new colleague Ward 26 Councillor Jon Burnside and I share serious concerns about a proposal for a condo on the west side of Bayview between Soudan and Hillsdale.

The Davisville Village and Leaside communities heard from developers about plans for a nine-storey building at a public pre-application meeting in early December. Neighbours at the meeting shared my view that the height was completely inappropriate for the location and are concerned about the precedent this proposal would set.

In particular, the guidelines try to limit the height of the building to the width of the road. For instance, Eglinton is 27 metres in most sections, which translates to a preferred height of nine storeys in portions not part of the Urban Growth Area near Yonge St.

Bayview is only 20.7 metres wide. With a retail component at grade, the guidelines would prescribe about six total storeys on the proposed site.

If the anti-democratic Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) didn’t exist, the community and city’s planning staff, along with my office, would just point to the guidelines and ensure that the developer followed the rules. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality we are facing.

That’s why we must work together to let this developer, and others that will follow, know they will face a long, difficult fight if they put forward proposals that don’t fit in with our neighbourhoods.

If you haven’t done so already, please go to www.joshmatlow.ca and sign up for my newsletter to receive updates about this issue. If you are a Ward 26 resident, you may also contact your local councillor, Jon Burnside.