While many church congregations are shrinking or struggling financially, Weston Park Baptist Church is placing its faith in development plans that aim to revitalize its property in the west-end Toronto neighbourhood.
“Our vision formulated [in] 2005,” says church deacon John Frogley-Rawson. “It’s a nice piece of land, and we have developed [a plan] for the property and the community.”
It’s worth reading, because it shows how a development should be done: with community consultation and assent. It also includes much on the fate of churches, and how they will be reused and redeveloped in a secular age.
On December 7, the city hosted a meeting about the proposed 38-storey building at 1821–1831 Weston Road.
Representatives of the developers gave a brief presentation and answered questions about the building, which, if approved, will be the tallest in Weston.
Your correspondent was left unimpressed. The developers were asked why they planned such a tall building. Louis Tinker, from Bousfields, said the province considers areas near transit hubs to be ‘strategic growth areas’ and “the tallest buildings in a particular geographic area… are often found in the closest proximity to the station entrance”.
That may be so, but the representatives did not offer a reason why such a tall building would be good forWeston.
I asked, directly, because other developers, including Castlepoint Numa, Rockport, and Options for Homes, have worked with the community to offer benefits beyond those required by law. They’ve sought more than our permission; they came with offers and ideas.
It didn’t seem that Bousfields had any of those planned. Tinker did say “we haven’t reached that point in the discussion” and that they would consider benefits “if people have ideas that they want to share”—but it appeared to me that he was discussing how to disburse only the benefits the city requires.
The architects did, however, present their new plans for the façade, which they say integrates more aspects of the streetscape and community history.
I’m not an architect, but I think this was a weak effort. The F-shaped elements, for instance, are supposed to hearken back to the CCM factory as viewed from above.
I love Weston, and I love bikes, but I’m over Weston as the home of CCM. We have a lot more to offer than that ancient history (supposing you can find the history in the façade). How about a riparian theme? Or one that nods to our intersection of water, rail, sky, and road? Perhaps a celebration of our present as the home to many new Canadians?
So, in short, no.
If you ask me, it’s too big, and too ugly, with too few benefits to offer.
There’s a couple of news items that have surfaced lately. One is a notorious chair throwing incident and another is a Metrolinx promise to a community.
Which is garnering the most attention?
Which is of greater consequence?
In February 2019, aspiring media celebrity Marcella Zoia, a teenager at the time, threw a folding chair from a downtown high rise. For some reason, the video of the incident was posted to social media and all hell broke loose. The press has given huge amounts of attention to the feckless Ms. Zoia’s case, hounding her during several court appearances where she eventually coughed up a guilty plea. After her sentencing (a hefty fine and community service), hanging judge John Tory has chimed in to to say that Ms. Zoia (AKA Chair Girl) should have gone to jail. Apparently the mayor believes that without the deterrence of a jail term, others will be inspired to fling furniture from tall buildings – where will it all end? Mayor Tory had no hesitation in criticizing the work of Justice Mara Greene who wisely ignored the Crown’s recommendation of a 6-month jail term. Let’s not get into the purposes of jail but suffice to say that it should be reserved for violent offenders rather than idiotic teens. This isn’t Georgia or Alabama.
Let’s take a moment to be grateful that the mayor is in a position where he is relatively inconsequential and move on to another news item.
In this story, Councillor Anthony Peruzza is complaining that Metrolinx is breaking a promise to donate a chunk of land in the Finch Avenue West and Yorkgate Boulevard area for the purpose of building a community hub. Here, you’ll not find hordes of reporters breathlessly pursuing Metrolinx executives for an answer. Lazy members of the press and Mayor Tory find items like this tedious. There are no dramatic foot chases no videos and no public outrage. Metrolinx spokesperson Anne-Marie Aikins says that Metrolinx cannot donate land to the City but indicated that there’s lots of time. to work something out. Translation: there’s time for the public to lose interest and for the story to be buried.
Sadly, that sums up the news cycle these days. Councillor Peruzza represents one of the poorest wards in the city and instead of government agencies joining forces to build up an impoverished community, they conspire to work against it. The press largely doesn’t care.
This is reminiscent of the Toronto Parking Authority sale of the 16 John Street parking lot in Weston, a piece of land that once belonged to the old town of Weston (in another one of the poorest wards in the city) and which could have formed the heart of a stand-alone Weston Hub. It wasn’t to be. People were seduced by the promise of a glitzy new home for the Weston Farmers Market along with community space and live/work artist accommodations. Council was swayed by the next-to-zero cost and the only downside was to be a 30-storey tower and podium, something not envisioned by Toronto’s 2011 feasibility study.
When the Weston Farmers Market opens a week on Saturday (August 1), it won’t be convening in the space that was a big part of the selling job.
Apparently traders don’t want to use it because it’s too small and their trucks (which they need close by) would damage the paving.
No, the market’s going back to almost the exact location where it began on John Street. The ample parking promised for the farmers market turns out to be the new market space itself. The space is larger than the fancy concept one and the paving can withstand trucks. If instead of selling the parking lot, the Toronto Parking Authority (a branch of city council) had donated the land to the community, things could have turned out differently. Sadly the press was focussed on other things and the public was seduced by fancy drawings. That’s the nature of news these days.
Maybe we can invite Marcella Zoia to cut the ribbon on August 1st.
The south-east corner of Weston and Lawrence will be the home of an interesting project. For the first time in a long time, there’s a proposed development that promises to bring a net benefit to Weston rather than a neutral or a negative. The proposed site includes the Weston Park Baptist Church, its parking lots and the old wedge-shaped Scotiabank building. The organizations behind the scheme are developers Castlepoint Numa and the Weston Park Baptist Church.
Many people who attended the first consultation meeting back in the pre-Covid days of last February 28 were encouraged by development plans for the site and the enthusiasm of the stakeholders.
The development group has opened a website to encourage suggestions and feedback from the community.
Find the community information and feedback site here.
A giant drill prepares the foundations for The Humber; an affordable condo being built on Wilby Crescent overlooking the Humber. The building should be ready for occupation in 2021 correction; early 2023.
A huge proposed development on a small residential street will be considered at Etobicoke York Community Council next week.
Developers are proposing a 35-storey tower with 374 units and parking for 154 cars. The proposal violates planning guidelines and some city bylaws about height, density, size, setbacks, waste handling, and parking (the developers kindly provided council with a draft bylaw amendment).
By my calculation, this will be the tallest building in Mount Dennis.
I think it’s in a terrible location at the end of a narrow street, and will provide little to the community. The Etobicoke York Community Council will meet July 14 to discuss the building.