“Development” has become a four-letter word in Leaside. All too often, the planning process proceeds in its official way without enough feedback from neighbourhood residents. A single city-held public consultation meeting is hardly sufficient to measure local opinion, or to identify and generate alternative suggestions.
Fortunately the Ontario legislature passed The Smart Planning Act (Bill 73) in December 2015; it requires municipalities to explain how residents’ input has been incorporated in development decisions.
The LPOA board believes that the time has come for a detailed neighbourhood-wide survey on residents’ attitudes toward development in Leaside, suggesting measures to improve, resolve, or oppose proposals.
The LPOA has initiated a development task force to determine the survey’s questions and methods of distribution. It will be an active partnership among the LPOA, residents throughout Leaside, and Councillor Burnside.
We face a number of major development proposals, mainly located along major streets convenient to the LRT Eglinton Crosstown.
The largest development of all is proposed by developer Steve Diamond for 939 Eglinton East at Brentcliffe Rd., encompassing four high- rises (residential and mixed use) ranging from 19 to 34 storeys, and almost 2,000 underground parking spaces.
In size, scale and density, it really is a whole new city. Its traffic impact alone, aside from other considerations, would affect all of Leaside, especially the North and South Leaside residential areas closest to the site.
Councillor Burnside has established a working group to meet with Diamond and see how much flexibility he is willing to incorporate into his plans.
Because Steve Diamond is already legally in a position to go to the Ontario Municipal Board, the LPOA initial survey will focus on the 939 Eglinton East site. In the very near future you will be approached for your comments. Stay tuned for further information!
Here’s another development issue, on a much smaller scale, but with big traffic implications. 33 Laird Dr. is the heritage-designated Levitt building, immediately north of All Canadian Self-Storage, and diagonally across the street from two busy intersections: by the Husky gas station at Laird Dr./Malcolm Rd. and outside Leaside Memorial Gardens at Southvale Dr./Millwood Rd.
My LPOA co-president Geoff Kettel is writing elsewhere in Leaside Life about the planning and heritage issues involved in rezoning the property. A redesigned site incorporating a new two-storey building with such proposed uses as retail, day nursery and/or restaurants, its entry/exit would be via Canvarco Rd., a short dead-end street off Laird.
There was much criticism from residents at the city’s Jan. 5 public consultation meeting, and from industrial owners in the Leaside Business Park.
We Leasiders are only too aware of horrendous traffic volumes and congestion along Laird and at these junctions, which will only get worse with the new Costco superstore recently approved for Overlea Blvd.
(The LPOA has heard that the Costco approval is being appealed at the OMB, but in the meanwhile retail contagion is already spreading along Overlea.)
There is one potentially positive aspect. LPOA’s traffic committee, since 2004, has presented designs to improve the safety, look, and traffic flow of the two traffic light intersections by Leaside Memorial Gardens.
These have been approved at two separate LPOA annual general meetings, and shown to city staff. For years, nothing has happened.
But the traffic consultant for the 33 Laird proposal was actually given the LPOA blueprints by city staff to consider. We’ll be pursuing these improvements whatever happens to the development itself.
Leasiders also await an amended design for 660 Eglinton East (Sunnybrook Plaza). And the LPOA will be at the Ontario Municipal Board in coming months, opposing a major condo/retirement proposal at 140-146 Laird Dr.
Lastly, an update on the all-day, every-day TTC Bayview South bus, which is to begin service as of Sunday, June 19. That date was dictated by the availability of additional buses for the increased service.
This new bus will, finally, close the service gap on Bayview between Sutherland and Davisville, making it much easier for South Leasiders to get to Sunnybrook Hospital or to shop locally, without having to use a circuitous public transit route, or pay for expensive taxis or parking fees.
As we get closer to the date we will notify you of decisions regarding frequency of service, and bus stop locations. Councillor Burnside, who has been very supportive of this improvement, and I will be meeting to discuss such details with the TTC.
The LPOA board meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month, at the Trace Manes building on Rumsey Rd., by Leaside Library and the tennis courts. These meetings are open to the public. We encourage you to attend, with questions, or issues you’d like advice on, or just to listen in. Our next meeting is on Wednesday, Feb. 3.