Cities used to develop organically. Once streets were laid down and divided into lots, neighbourhoods developed through general consensus. Noisy and smelly industrial areas were generally built away from residential areas and as cities expanded they relied heavily on businesses to provide the needed services and amenities. Nowadays, businesses pay a shrinking share of revenues to the city. To replace those lost revenues, Toronto uses development charges applied when new homes and businesses are constructed. Here are the amounts the city charges for new residential units.
Single homes & Semis $87,299
Multiples 2+Bedrooms $72,158
Multiples1 Bed and Bach. $36,198
Apartments 1 Bed and Bachelor $33,358
These charges are applied regardless of the size of the home or the value of the land they are built on. For example, a detached 10,000 square foot Rosedale home built on an acre of land pays the same development charge as a 1200 square foot semi-detached in Rexdale. A luxury three-bedroom penthouse pays the same as a two-bedroom ‘affordable’ apartment. This doesn’t seem fair and may explain why some areas of the city lack appropriate services and amenities.
Readers have often wondered why developers need apartment buildings to be so much taller in Weston than in more affluent parts of the city. Development charges may be part of the reason.
Also under review is the Alternative Parkland Dedication Rate along with Section 37 charges. The idea behind Section 37 was to compensate for shoddy and overbuilt architecture by having the developer ‘donate’ to, for example, a community art project. One notorious example is the Nictophilia installation at Eglinton and Weston. Another is the exercise equipment in Cruickshank Park. The danger with this type of funding is that the local councillor’s hands are all over the project and it can end up appearing as a ‘gift’ from the councillor. Another problem with Section 37 funding was that the money generated was dependent on the value of the project. Downtown projects generated huge amounts of Section 37 money while our neck of the woods received token amounts. Read more here on the various charges or ‘Growth Funding Tools’ as the City now calls them.
The Province is asking for public input. Sadly, because I was slow in writing this article, two public information sessions have come and gone but it is not too late to provide input to the city by emailing [email protected]
On October 1, City Council will consider whether the city should send lawyers to fight the developments on Locust Street in Mount Dennis and at 1821 Weston Road.
Both developments are being appealed at the Ontario Land Tribunal.
According to staff, the buildings violate provincial policy, the Growth Plan, and local planning guidelines. They are also too tall, too large, and out of context with the surroundings, among many other complaints.
Council will also consider whether to allow demolition of 975 Weston Road, which would allow it to be merged with two neighbouring vacant parcels and developed.
The owners of 1821 Weston are proposing a 38-storey, 446-unit building that would, according to city staff, violate:
The Provincial policy statement
The Growth Plan
Toronto’s official plan
“Area specific and city wide guidelines”
City planners say it does not fit the local built form, is too close to property lines, and is “out of scale to its surroundings”, and will “negatively impact adjacent lands—among many other complaints.
Development on this site could be supported, if it provides appropriate setbacks, separation distances, massing, building height and density, as directed in the Official Plan, the Weston Urban Design Guidelines, and the City-Wide Tall Building Design Guidelines in cooperation with adjacent property owners.
City staff also oppose the 35-storey, 372-unit proposed building on Locust Street.
They say it violates:
The Provincial Policy Statement
The Growth Plan
Mount Dennis’ urban design guidelines
It is also, they say, too tall, too close to the property line, and out of context with the neighbouring buildings, again, among other complaints. “Given the existing and planned context for the subject property and the surrounding area, the proposed density, height and massing proposed in its current form cannot be supported by staff.”
In both cases, staff recommended “that City Council direct the City Solicitor, together with appropriate City staff, to oppose the current proposal at the OLT and continue discussions with the Applicant to resolve outstanding issues.”
The owners of the vacant property at 1681 Weston have asked for permission to build a 9-storey, midrise with “co-living units”—what we would normally call a dormitory, I think.
In the application, they say the building
will include a mix of ‘traditional’ residential units and ‘co-living units’. ‘Co-living units’ are comprised of individual private rooms, including bed sitting rooms and private bathrooms, which share communal space including kitchen, dining and living space. The proposed ‘co-living units’ are fully furnished including beds, linens sofas, dining tables and fully stocked kitchen with dished, pots, pans, etc. Wifi, cable Netflix and other utilities and programming. These units have an intended minimum lease duration of 3 months and weekly cleaning services are envisioned.
The “Co-living units” are envisioned as a modern form of shared living, where like minded individuals are focused on a sense of community, and through intelligently designed spaces and smart technology, are able to live a more convenient and fulfilling lifestyle. The private bedrooms and bathrooms along with rights to a portion of the shared living space within the ‘co-living units’ will be rented out to individuals. It is intended that this type of accommodation will be desirable to people looking for single-room rental accommodation which also comes with a sense of community. It will also be desirable to people who are more transient such as students, seniors, new immigrants and people moving nationally/ internationally for work and need to be close to transit. Although this is the target market, there will be no exclusions based on age
The applicants are asking for 26 co-living units with 97 private bedrooms, in addition to 16 traditional (not co-living) rental units. They also propose commercial uses at the street level.
The building known as ‘The Humber’ on Wilby Crescent is starting to emerge from its basement foundations. This was the view at the site entrance today and also from the Humber footbridge. The 22 storey affordable condos will be ready for occupation sometime in 2023.