Etobicoke York Council meets about once a month to deal with local issues. Local councillors discuss matters of local concern and adopt, defer or reject motions which are sent to the full council for adoption and enactment. Today’s decisions that may be of interest to our readers are:
Toronto Building recommends that the City Council give consideration to the demolition application for 8 Oak Street and decide to:
Approve the application to demolish the two storey industrial building without entering into a beautification agreement with the City and the appropriate City officials be authorized and directed to take the necessary action to give effect thereto.
Update: The minutes don’t give details of the amendment yet, however, InsideToronto says that Councillor Nunziata asked for a heritage report on the building that will be delivered at the April EYC meeting.
Ezra Levant is a an abrasive right-wing commenter on all things political. He reports for Rebel Media and has a lot to say about the Liberal government – most of it sharply critical. On Friday, he had a few things to say about our MP Ahmed Hussen’s recent promotion. In Levant’s video piece from last Friday, January 13, he shows Hussen in extracts from CSPAN, testifying in 2011 to a U.S. Congress Homeland Security committee concerned with the radicalization of recent immigrants, particularly those from Somali communities south of the border. In the first clip, he states,
I’m a Canadian Muslim who is proud of his faith and heritage, and I truly believe that the Canadian and American values of liberty, democracy, rule of law, human rights and respect for minorities do complement and work neatly with the tenets of my faith.
Levant likes Hussen’s stance on immigrants and their need to adopt Canadian values. Levant thinks that this viewpoint is in sharp contrast to the one held by the the Liberal Party and in particular, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The video is posted below. Thanks to commenter ‘Westonarian’ for the tip.
We get outraged whenever a murder takes place in our city, yet people driving cars kill a similar number of Torontonians each year. Part of the problem is that our city has been designed to favour the automobile. Most cities in Europe have extensive traffic-free zones where pedestrians can walk without worrying about traffic.
Cars have been heavily redesigned over the years to protect the occupants in the case of a collision. Nothing is on the outside to help an unfortunate pedestrian or cyclist who is struck by a car.
The old expression goes, “Speed kills”. Logic tells us that the faster a car goes, the greater the impact in a collision. What most of us don’t realize is that thanks to the laws of physics, a car travelling at 6o km/h is almost twice as likely to kill a pedestrian or cyclist as one going at 50 km/h.
With greater speed, longer reaction times are needed and braking distance increases.
This Australian video illustrates the dangers of low level speeding.
As part of Vision Zero, a city-wide push to target the huge number of deaths and injuries on Toronto streets, some speed limits across the city are about to be lowered. The ones in our immediate vicinity are:
Dixon Road from Highway 427 to Royal York Road – Reduced from 60 km/h to 50 km/h
Rogers Road from Weston Road to Old Weston Road – Reduced from 50 km/h to 40 km/h
In addition, pedestrian crossing times will be lengthened at certain intersections.
All of us are vulnerable pedestrians; let’s think that way when we’re driving.
As many readers will attest, the stretch of highway along Black Creek Drive between Weston and Trethewey can be a long, tough and tedious slog. Apparently it’s the 12th most congested piece of roadway in all of Canada. It begins as the 400 South and like the 427, was originally intended to bulldoze a path all the way down to the Gardiner. The 1970s got in the way and put a stop to further division and demolition of neighbourhoods. Black Creek drive was the best 1980s road builders could come up with in the space already cleared. This hybrid stretch today is as much fun in rush hour as a hemorrhoid transplant.
Unfortunately, the money saved wasn’t channeled into public transit and today, instead of making transportation decisions around data, our wise leaders are spending billions that we don’t have on a Scarborough Subway that we don’t need.
In a cabinet shuffle announced today, newly minted MP Ahmed Hussen has been promoted to Immigration Minister and becomes the first black and Somali-Canadian member of the Trudeau cabinet. Hussen will take the place of John McCallum who has been appointed Ambassador to China.
Hussen came to Canada from Mogadishu as a 16 year-old and later managed to put himself through York University, earning a B.A. He worked in provincial politics before standing in the 2015 general election for the Liberals.
As a rookie MP, his rise to cabinet has been meteoric by any standards. York South Weston is already represented by influential representatives; the Speaker of Toronto Council, Frances Nunziata and the provincial Minister of Citizenship, Laura Albanese. Let’s hope this increased power and influence translates into some positive results for York South-Weston.
A few years ago, there was a proposal to build a 10-storey, 131 unit apartment building called ‘The Riverstone‘ on 10 Wilby, just at Hickory Tree Road – it claimed with some justification to be inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water house. Readers may remember that the vehicle registration office was on the site some years ago. The proposal generated lots of interest but not enough to get off the ground.
In their unsuccessful bid, the non-profit developer Neighbourhood Concepts asked and received permission for two extra floors over the permitted 8. Part of the problem was that the adjacent Hickory Tree Road condos were selling for considerably less at the time. Sadly, Owner and CEO of Neighbourhood Concepts, Nancy Hawley died in 2015 and the site is now owned by another non-profit developer Options For Homes. They are requesting permission to build a high rise building double the permitted height to 16 storeys and increase the number of apartments to 234. By way of comparison, the condos (see above photo) at 1 and 3 Hickory Tree Road are 19 stories and the two buildings have a total of 413 apartments.
Due to the anomalous lot shapes and slope profiles, any rezoning and site-plan applications in the Wilby Crescent area will specifically address appropriate siting and built form considerations in a manner compatible with the unique topographic features in the area.
Planners recognize that this is a special area overlooking the Humber, but Options For Homes wants to build taller and wider and closer to the property line / parkland etc. In a February 2016 meeting with OFH, Council expressed issues with the proposed development citing:
…significant concerns with respect to height, massing, configuration of the building at grade, the lack of landscaping, the relationship between the base of the building and the public realm, shadow impacts, the size of the floor plate for floors 11-16 and the lack of differentiation in the materials between the podium and tower components of the proposed building.
Options For Homes apparently engineered a small land swap to make the site more regular. Adding extra height to a building makes each unit more affordable. If you can add more floors to a building, the cost of the foundations, elevators etc. is spread a lot thinner.
Bottom line: it’s probably a done deal – especially since the Weston Southern Weston Road Corridor neighbourhood is already zoned for apartment buildings. The problem once again will be finding buyers but this time, the UP Express is operating and is a short walk away, allowing a commute to Union Station in 14 minutes or Pearson’s Terminal One in 12 minutes. Adding to the attractiveness for first time buyers, the units will be sold at cost with an option to have the difference from market value used as a deposit. Any appreciation will be shared between the homeowner and developer once the homeowners sell, along with the return of the deposit. To keep prices even lower, there will be no community amenities such as a pool or sauna.