Why I favour that big Diamond proposal

Leaside Life published two letters in its January edition from area residents Pierce Reid and Bob Moenck. Both express concern about proposed developments in the area.

Reid believes “…major commercial developments around Leaside should be put on hold until new traffic patterns evolve after the opening of the LRT”.

Moenck’s biggest concern is that the Leaside Property Owners’ Association and Leaside Life aren’t doing  enough to oppose the mixed-use development at the southwest corner of Eglinton and Brentcliffe, what he terms “this egregious development.”

Reid says that a moratorium on commercial development should be implemented in the area to remain in effect until the LRT opens for business. He sees time standing still for the next six years until the city can analyze Leaside traffic patterns regardless of the economic consequences to the city.

I hate to tell you this Pierce but traffic is bad all over. Try driving in Brampton or Etobicoke or Milton. They’re all extremely frustrating to navigate.

In many ways Toronto is 100 times worse than New York for driving because it doesn’t have the same public transit infrastructure. Hopefully, the LRT will alleviate some of this problem but calling for a complete shutdown of commercial development until 2020 or later is pure folly.

I think that Bob Moenck’s argument, while well constructed, does have its limitations. Yes, the initial idea presented by Diamond Corp. for Eglinton/Brentcliffe looks to be one of the biggest commercial proposals past or present in Leaside. It’s also true that the building heights and density proposed (number of condo units) are greater than we’ve traditionally seen in the area.

However, Leaside, while growing, still represents less than 1 percent of Toronto’s 2.8 million inhabitants. Furthermore, using the city’s Ward 26 profile along with statistics obtained from the city planning department, Leaside-Bennington Heights has approximately 3,400 people per square kilometre compared to 8,000 in the rest of the ward and 4,400 for the entire city. Based on these numbers I calculate that Leaside is underpopulated by as many as 5,000 people.

Anyone who’s dealt with the city, Metrolinx or the province knows that the LRT is a major catalyst for growth in Toronto. Focus areas at both Bayview/Eglinton and Laird/Eglinton are a priority.

Although Yonge and Eglinton will take the brunt of any intensification along the LRT route, other areas including Leaside must do their fair share in terms of accommodating population growth. The LRT will be considered a financial success if it simultaneously improves public transportation in the city, reduces traffic congestion and increases tax revenue for both the city and province.

If Toronto is to thrive Leaside needs to grow at a faster rate than it’s traditionally been used to.

People complain about congestion along Laird, yet local residents represent a decent chunk of the cars in the parking lot at Leaside Village.

I’ve been told small businesses like Grilltime, on Laird, have suffered since Longo’s arrival 19 months ago. Unfortunately, these businesses face the age-old question of how to differentiate themselves from the big boys. That’s an answer I don’t have but I do know the solution isn’t getting upset about it.

A better solution for Grilltime is to have a larger pool of people to draw from. The development at Eglinton and Brentcliffe would add an estimated 2,350 people within a 15-20 minute walk of Andy Elder’s store. There would be another 1,000 or so people working in the proposed seven-storey office building who could certainly walk to his shop seven months of the year.

I don’t know if that would make a difference but it certainly couldn’t hurt. The same goes for Bayview where several shops currently remain empty. Dollarama’s probably not having a tough time but I’m sure there are others walking a fine line between opened and closed. They too would benefit from a larger population.

About Will Ashworth 51 Articles
Will Ashworth contributes to Leaside Life.