8 Oak Street gets the chop.

The 8 Oak building is in the centre of the photo. The townhomes in the foreground were made possible by a 2004 OMB ruling. From Google Maps.

First the owners of Satin Finish proposed building 99 townhomes on their property at 8 Oak Street that runs along Knob Hill Drive. Then they ran into some opposition, had a re-think and came back with plans to build 509 units. An effort was made to save the original brick building that fronts the site on Oak but that has come to nothing. Council recently voted to allow demolition of the non-residential brick building, subject to a ‘beautification agreement’. Nobody yet knows what this means as it is subject to negotiations between the owners and council. It’s part of the Section 37 nonsense Ontario requires the city to use instead of council being able to direct developers in what they can and should do. Contrary to the site’s current industrial use zoning, the owners want the site to become an apartment and townhome development. Across the street is a set of townhomes that went through a similar process back in 2004. The OMB ruled in favour of the developer and the zoning was changed to residential.

Detailed plans for the 8 Oak Street Development. The newer proposal has a park in the centre. Click to enlarge.
Weston’s Carnegie Library – saved from demolition in 1975.

John Tory and his council allies have a huge revenue shortfall. Instead of raising the lowest property taxes in all of Ontario, they are hoping to find efficiencies (a.k.a. gravy) elsewhere.

Apparently one tactic is keeping staff low at city hall. If heritage buildings can’t be designated thanks to staff shortages, developers can take advantage of the delay and demolish priceless properties. “We’re understaffed”, is the plea from the Planning Department. Unscrupulous developers don’t like to preserve heritage buildings. Therefore one can only assume that the Planning Department is woefully short of staff by design. Consider this recent Tweet to Councillor Joe Cressy from Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat:

As the Toronto Star points out, it’s harder to chop down a tree than demolish a 110 year-old Beaux Arts heritage building.

Maybe this particular building wasn’t worthy of protection but now we’ll never know.

Incidentally, Josh Matlow is a city councillor who proactively seeks out heritage buildings in his corner of Toronto. He has listed and mapped significant properties in Ward 22. Perhaps his example should be emulated by all councillors and maybe the city should make the process less cumbersome if we are to retain any of our rapidly disappearing heritage.

Area development taking off.

Urban Toronto describes itself as, “Toronto’s premier website focused on condos, architecture, urban development and real estate.” It is read by many in the industry.

There is a recent article in the U.T. site that details future development projects in our area. They believe that the driver of this new activity may be the Eglinton Crosstown LRT with the possibility of a future connection to Pearson Airport.

Read all about it here.

Mount Dennis sees a bright future

An artist impression of the future Mount Dennis Station at 3500 Eglinton Avenue West.

Just as the UP Express is beginning to make a difference in Weston, according to an Inside Toronto article, people in Mount Dennis are anticipating a boost to their area as a result of the Eglinton Crosstown and the new Mount Dennis Station. The 19 km line with a 10 km underground stretch between Keele and Laird is set to open in 2021 after ten years of construction.

Incidentally, without former Premier Mike Harris, we could be riding a different version of the line today. This is a map of the subway line that Harris buried (and not in a good way) in 1995.

The subway line that we could be riding today if Mike Harris hadn’t killed it in 1995.

The Eglinton West Line would have run from Eglinton West Station all the way to Renforth along a right of way that had been reserved for the Richview Expressway (killed in the 1970s). Sadly, the Eglinton road allowance was sold for small change by Rob Ford in 2010 but nobody thought to tell John Tory as he was putting crayon to napkin for his SmartTrack plan. The allowance is now being filled in with some spectacularly awful townhomes.

Gratuitous side note: right wing politicians claim to be able to lower costs but their penny wise antics often end up costing us more in the end.

The latest iteration of an Eglinton line.

The new Mount Dennis Station will adapt the old Kodak Recreation Building and will be part of a transportation hub connecting with buses and the UP Express lines. Let’s hope that combined with the end of the vacant property rebate, the new transportation infrastructure will actually breathe fresh life into the area.

Today’s Etobicoke York Council Decisions

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:

Proposed apartment at 10 Wilby Crescent.

EYC recommends the following:

  1. Staff be directed to schedule a community consultation meeting for the lands at 10 Wilby Crescent together with the Ward Councillor.
  2. Notice for the community consultation meeting be given to landowners and residents within 120 metres of the site.
  3. Notice for the public meeting under the Planning Act be given according to the regulations of the Planning Act.

Decision: Adopted

8 Oak Street demolition

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.

Decision: Amended

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.

Traffic Calming Poll Results – Rosemount Avenue

The Director, Transportation Services, Etobicoke York District recommends that:

Etobicoke York Community Council NOT to approve installing traffic calming on Rosemount Avenue.¹

Decision: Adopted

All-Way Stop Control – Rosemount Avenue and MacDonald Avenue

The Director, Transportation Services, Etobicoke York District recommends that:

Etobicoke York Community Council NOT approve the installation of all-way stop controls at the intersection of Rosemount Avenue and MacDonald Avenue.

Decision: Adopted

Pedestrian Access to City Laneway – Lawrence Avenue West to MacDonald Avenue

Transportation Services recommends that:

Etobicoke York Community Council NOT approve installing fencing across the laneway between MacDonald Avenue and Lawrence Avenue West, east of Ralph Street in order to block access to pedestrians.

Decision: Adopted


¹(Sorry, we reported this wrong. They did vote to approve speed humps.)

Mayor Tory gets on board

From the mayor’s Twitter account.

Today’s announcement from the mayor (standing behind what looks like a sign recycled from a Rob Ford presser) is to the effect that empty stores should not continue to receive a property tax rebate.

Here at Weston Web, we are grateful that the mayor has obviously been using our search feature and reading back issues. We pointed out the unfairness of this tax situation back in 2013.

Hopefully, hizonner will check through Weston Web for more hints on how to do things better in Toronto. Perhaps that will help boost his dismal 55% popularity rating.

New 10 Wilby Crescent developer to try again.

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.

The site at 10 Wilby Crescent. To the left are the existing condos at 1 and 3 Hickory Tree Road.  Adapted from Google Maps.

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.

The 2013 concept drawing of the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired 12-storey Riverstone

There are rules already in place about the height and placement of buildings in Weston but specifically for Wilby Crescent:

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.

The latest proposal is called The Humber.

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.

The proposed building will be discussed at the next Etobicoke York Community Council meeting on January 17. The City’s Planning Department is recommending a community consultation.

By the numbers:

  • Number of Units: 234
  • Height of building 55 metres or 180 feet.
  • Storeys: 16
  • Number of parking spaces – Cars: 161 Bicycles: 235
  • Apartment Types: 14 Batchelor apts.
  • 33 One-bedroom apts. 69 One bedroom plus den apts.
  • 56 Two bedroom apts. 62 Two bedroom plus den apts.