Will the Leaside Station overbuild be allowed to destroy the Bayview Quads?

Saving Old Leaside

The Bayview Quads. Photo Geoff Kettel.

The development application for 1787 Bayview Ave. submitted in October 2022 by Countrywide Homes (a branch of Condor, a Vaughan-based developer), proposes to build over the LRT station, but also incorporates the properties currently occupied by two four-unit apartment houses next door that we call the Talbot Quads. The developer’s plan is to demolish the quads to accommodate the 35-storey tower on the site. 

But aren’t the quads heritage properties? 

Well yes and no. Of the two, 1783-85 Bayview Ave. is protected by heritage designation, while the other, 1779-81 Bayview Ave., is not. Let’s do a deeper dive, and review the challenge facing the community, and what we are doing about it. I have previously discussed the various interactions with the Bayview quads next to the LRT station. This piece describes the efforts undertaken by the Leaside Residents Association to attempt to ensure protection of the two quads by examining the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) submitted by the applicant. The LRA commissioned heritage planner Paul Dilse to undertake a comparison between the HIA for 1779-1787 Bayview and the City’s Terms of Reference for Heritage Impact Assessments. 

The northernmost quad, at 1783-85 Bayview, is owned by Metrolinx, but is to be transferred to Condor upon completion of the Leaside Station per the purchase agreement. In 2016, 1783-85 was named a Provincial Heritage Property by the Metrolinx Interim Heritage Committee. In 2019, the City of Toronto designated 1783-85 under the Ontario Heritage Act.

In 2022, Metrolinx commissioned ERA Architects to undertake a Strategic Conservation Plan. In March 2022, the LRA commissioned Paul Dilse to do a comparison of the draft ERA Strategic Conservation Plan with the Standards & Guidelines for Conservation of Provincial Heritage Properties. He found that ERA’s recommendations in favour of the redevelopment of the site hinge on a reassessment of the property’s cultural heritage value, with conclusions contrary to the previous evaluations.

The LRA asked Dilse to review the revised ERA Strategic Conservation Plan. It was materially the same as the draft.

The LRA is recommending that with respect to 1783-85 Bayview, Heritage Planning staff require a peer review or ask the applicant to resubmit its HIA and utilize the Dilse report as input to the staff report.

When it is transferred to the private developer, the heritage designation bylaw in place will give the City control over demolition. However, while in provincial hands its preservation is not guaranteed. There is the possibility that despite the provincial designation, Metrolinx may request a demolition permit while the property is still in its ownership, which the City may not be able to refuse. 

Consequently, the LRA is recommending that Heritage Planning staff closely monitor any forthcoming demolition permit applications on the property and that the City be prepared to seek an injunction to delay the issuing of a demolition permit.

The second quad, 1779-81 Bayview, has been owned by Condor for several years. It has no heritage protection, despite being nominated along with each of the row of quads in 2011.

The GBCA (architectural firm) heritage impact assessment applied the criteria in Ontario Regulation 9/06 to an evaluation of 1779-1781 Bayview Ave., and determined that it meets six of the nine criteria in all three categories of the regulation – design value or physical value, historical value or associative value, and contextual value. The report’s authors, however, did not recommend heritage designation. A draft statement of significance and a draft list of heritage attributes were not presented in the report. The HIA dismissed conservation of the building because that would interfere with development potential.

Based on the Dilse review, the LRA recommends that, with respect to 1779-81 Bayview Ave., Heritage Planning staff:

(1) ask GBCA to revise and resubmit its heritage impact assessment and,

(2) if the second submission is still inadequate, request a peer review of the heritage impact assessment.

The LRA also recommend that within the 90-day window when the City can act, City staff prepare a Notice of Intention to Designate 1779-1781 Bayview Ave. by using the designation bylaws for 1783-1785 Bayview as a template.

In summary, 1783-1785 Bayview is protected heritage property and according to the evaluation presented in the heritage impact assessment, 1779-1781 Bayview also meets the criteria for heritage designation.

The applicant’s heritage impact assessment acknowledges the importance of the row of quads to Leaside. Despite this, it states that removal of two out of the 10 is justified because eight remain to support neighbourhood character! Of course, we expect that demolition of the two will inevitably lead to further demolitions.

The work of the LRA reaffirms and hopefully buttresses the resolve of the City to fight for preservation of the quads. Unfortunately, Bill 23 puts the City in a different position, now being much more stressed in its efforts both to protect existing heritage properties and also to designate ones not currently protected.

City Planning’s community consultation (virtual) meeting for the 1787-1779 Bayview Ave. application is set for Wed., March 1 (details TBC).

About Geoff Kettel 218 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.