As the COVID-19 pandemic tightens its grip, Mayor Tory has acted to discourage groups of people hanging out together in Toronto’s parks.
From the city’s site:
“All City-owned playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor exercise equipment and other parks amenities, as well as parking lots attached to its parks system, are closed.”
This may be in response to reports of people not maintaining a sufficient distance.
The city is hiring young people for parks and rec summer jobs. Applications are due by February 16.
In a press release, Mayor Tory said,
“Recreation jobs in the summer are good jobs for youth in our city. Through these jobs people are given the opportunity to gain employment experience and create community connections, while helping the City serve its residents through important programs and facilities.”
The city will have camps at many locations thoughout the city, including at CR Marchant, Weston CI, and York Rec.
The Humber river is breaking its banks in several places this morning after a record rainfall for the 11th January. The previous highest rainfall, 22.6 mm fell in 1960. Yesterday’s rainfall for the day was 59.0 mm which for those who still think imperially is 2.3 inches. Unusually for January all the day’s precipitation was rainfall. Because the ground was frozen and unable to absorb the water, it was drained into the Humber, causing the current high levels. Incidentally, the water was still rising at 11:30 this morning. Let’s hope none of our readers were affected negatively by this rain.
Here are a few shots taken along the Humber this morning. I couldn’t venture far into Cruickshank Park as the path was completely flooded. As always, click to enlarge the images.
The power of the current is evident from this shot just north of the Lawrence Avenue bridge.
Update: Hans Havermann sent a link to his blog showing the high water in Raymore Park.
After a public consultation, Toronto’s Planning Department has issued a preliminary report covering some of the issues regarding a mammoth development proposed for ‘downtown’ Weston. The site covers 1956, 1966, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984 and 1986 Weston Road and 1 Little Avenue. It covers several lots along the south side of Weston Road stretching from Little Avenue to the old Greenland Farms parking lot with a back access from Lawrence.
The report basically says that the proposal is deeply flawed.
There are only two recommendations from the report – one covers mailing costs for notifying members of the public and the other states, “Staff continue to work with the applicant to address the issues identified in this report and any additional issues that may be identified through the continuing review of the application, agency comments and the community consultation process.”
OK then, let’s get into the issues that have to be discussed (in no particular order).
Project Size and scale:
From the report,
“The proposed scale of development would result in a bulky, overwhelming presence which would not fit in with the surrounding area nor provide adequate transition in height to the surrounding properties, including: the existing 1 to 2-storey mixed use buildings fronting Weston Road, the existing taller buildings along Weston Road to the east, the 2-storey building directly adjacent to the south, and the rest of the Weston Phase 1 HCD and Neighbourhoods designated lands to the south and west. In its current form, the proposal fails to address the local and planned context in which it is situated.”It doesn’t get plainer than this. Staff are suggesting that the project be revised to a mid-rise building
Conformity to the Official Plan:
The location is a mixed use area and also an ‘avenue’. These are subject to lower density requirements but each case is different. Weston’s avenue hasn’t been studied yet but tall buildings are generally more appropriate downtown than along an avenue. A tall building is defined as being higher than the width of the street which is 27 m (equivalent to 8 storeys) at this location.
Breaching the Weston Plan:
Yes Virginia, there are guidelines for Weston. To read them is to wonder what happened to the dreams for the area and how they have been so downgraded and ignored for years. This should be one of the most important jobs for Councillor Nunziata – outlining the Weston guidelines to developers before they submit outrageous proposals like this. In fairness, because of interest in the project Ms Nunziata has asked the developer to expand the notification area – 5660 notices were mailed out for the last meeting.
Anyway, the Weston guidelines state that building heights along Weston Road should not exceed 8 storeys with podiums of no more than 3 stories – all nicely stepped.
Apart from the outrageous height of the proposed buildings the report was critical of cantilevering of the towers (overhang) which goes against a step-like terracing of building levels.
The report suggests that some stores on the site may be pre-confederation which may complicate matters. They also state that heritage buildings should be retained – not just their frontages. There may also be at least six residences already existing on the site.
Section 37 Section 37 is a controversial part of the Ontario Planning Act that allows developers to pay money to the City in exchange for turning a blind eye to poor design or crappy architecture. To quote from the city’s rules, “Good architecture and good design are expected of all developments, as a matter of course, and are not eligible (for) Section 37 benefits.” There is no set amount or formula – (it must be negotiated between the developer, the City and the local councillor). The money must pay for a community benefit. It can’t be used to upgrade sewers (for example) – this would have to be done through development charges. Read the Section 37 guidelines here.
Here’s what the city suggests be done with the Section 37 monies generated from this development:
Funding contributions towards Falstaff Community Centre, and/or the new large multi-purpose Central Etobicoke Community Recreation Centre as identified by the Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan and Implementation Strategy 2019-2038;
Funding contributions towards the revitalization of the Weston Library Branch and/or Richview Library Branch;
Funding contributions for new child care facilities and/or capital improvements to existing child care facilities; and/or
Secure a minimum of 465 m2 of flexible multi-purpose community agency space in an accessible and visible location at the ground floor of the proposed development in accordance with the City’s Community Space Tenancy policy.
Comment: Neither the Falstaff Community Centre between Jane and Keele nor the (unbuilt) Central Etobicoke Community Recreeation Centre are in Weston and have very little connection to our community. It would certainly suit Councillor Nunziata to spend the money at Falstaff as she is keen to endear herself to her new constituents with a bit of largesse. Falstaff and anywhere outside the immediate Weston neighbourhood should be taken off the Section 37 table.
If Section 37 money is used to acquire community space in the new building, some clarity would be needed on the length of the lease and which costs would be covered?
It would be preferred if the project generates zero Section 37 money.
Shadows generated by the project:
The report asks that further studies be done because of the massive shadows that this project will generate with potential for shading Little Avenue Park and the project’s outdoor recreation area. Shadow studies during the winter months will be prepared and studied.
These have shown that uncomfortable conditions would be created, particularly on their own recreation space – which is too high up for the planners’ liking. Adjacent buildings on Lawrence would be negatively affected too.
Although the building is to be a condo; planning staff would like to see some affordable rental apartments in there too.
The proposed amenity space is undersized and should be increased.
Weston Road will need to be widened to provide the required 27m right of way.
On-site dog amenities with proper disposal facilities such as dog relief stations would be needed to alleviate the extra pressure on neighbourhood parks.
The applicant would also be required to satisfy the parkland dedication requirement through cash-in-lieu. This is because the developer has proposed to occupy all the space with building or paving.
Not mentioned in the report is the fact that the current right of way linking Weston Road to Lawrence Avenue via the Greenland Farms parking lot will be closed off by the development. This has been enjoyed for years.
Without the recent strong negative response from the community, this project may have proceeded with minimal changes.
Let’s hope the developer responds with something reasonable.
Faithful readers may remember that the garbage and recycling bins in Lions Park have been an issue since the soccer pitch was installed many years ago. The problem is that the people who use the soccer field remove the bins from their stakes and use them as goal posts.
Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation department and Toronto’s Solid Waste Management people can’t get their act together to solve this fairly simple problem.
Why not lock the bins to the stakes you ask? This was done as a response to my complaints in 2013. Unfortunately, when the Solid Waste people ‘forget’ to lock bins up after emptying, they go missing. This considerably simplifies their job next time.
Despite my many attempts to get this problem addressed permanently, it seems that no one at either the Parks or Solid Waste divisions cares enough to create a fix and follow up with some long-term supervision.
I’ll be phoning 311 and will follow up with a post-script on this article. Incidentally, if more of us phone 311 when there is a problem in our neck of the woods, we will get more action.
Post Script: A very pleasant gentleman knew the location well (Weston Collegiate Alum) took the details and will be contacting the appropriate people. He told me it will be taken care of within a month.