Developer meeting report.

Apologies for the delay in writing this up.

There was a fair crowd at WCI on November 28 to hear the developer’s latest incarnation of a ‘Main Street Weston’ development site of 7 contiguous lots at Lawrence and Little that will set the tone for years to come. Frances Nunziata began proceedings by stating that the developer had been asked to purchase additional properties in order to justify the scale of development, hence the latest application which doubled the podium height and the number of 29-storey buildings.

The audience listened respectfully as City planner Rory McNeill began the proceedings stating that the city’s representatives were there to listen to people’s reactions and that nothing has been decided.

The reason for the meeting is that the developer has applied to be exempt from the permitted standards required for developers in Weston.

Weston is officially on an ‘Avenue’ which means that it is subject to certain styles of building. The Urban Design Guidelines for Weston (yes they still exist) call it a mixed use area which includes retail and residential uses. Weston Road building heights under the guideline are not to exceed 8 storeys with a street frontage of 3 storeys. The western portion of the site is a heritage area and that means visual impacts should be limited. Any new buildings should be ‘designed sensitively within the urban design context’

From the Weston planning guidelines. Click to enlarge.

The residential units will be market price condos. The lawyer for the developer was coy about what price they will go for saying it was too far into the future. He did say that he expected that the development will help gentrify Weston.

Audience comments:
  • The development is too large and out of scale for the area.
  • Appropriate development in Weston is not a bad thing.
  • Most tall buildings sit atop a podium that is set back from the street. This one cheats because instead of tapering, the towers spill out on a base that hangs over the podium.
  • There were mixed feelings as to the attractiveness of the development.
  • The proposed number of parking spaces is inadequate.
  • There will be greatly increased traffic issues for Little Avenue and Lawrence Avenue.

A few other random thoughts:

Toronto requires shadow studies (yes, I’m obsessed) on proposed buildings to figure out the shade they will cast on the surrounding area. The City only requires these studies for the ‘Summer’ months i.e. March 22nd , June 22nd and September 22nd. Incidentally, March 22nd and September 22nd are identical from a sunshine point of view. If green space is affected, the City requires readings for December 22nd (the date of the Winter Solstice when sunlight is at its lowest and solar noon shadows are longest). It should be noted that the shadows cast by tall buildings are at their longest between September and March. These are not pencil shaped buildings and even the podium is 12 storeys. In fact they are rather ‘slabby’ and their shadows will be considerable.

The parking lot that currently sits beside the old Greenland Farms and the current pedestrian and vehicular access from there to Lawrence Avenue will be closed by this development.

I was impressed by the people of Weston who attended – they listened politely with open minds as they gathered information about the development.

The developer through their lawyer says that a smaller version of this development will not be economically viable and keeping to the Weston Planning Guidelines is out of the question. If this developer can’t build within the guidelines, perhaps another one can.

This building will create additional traffic issues for people on Little Avenue which currently has restricted access from Weston Road.

The developer was told by the city (and / or councillor?) that purchasing adjacent properties would justify a larger scale development. Now that properties have been added, is there an obligation on the part of the City to grant the exemptions needed? If so, that is irresponsible.

The number of parking spaces is inadequate even by the most bicycle and pedestrian-minded among us. Weston is not downtown. Sadly, a car is needed to have a reasonable quality of life here and I invite anyone who thinks otherwise to tell us how they do it. The average Toronto household contains 2.63 people. The 592 residential units would likely be home to 1500+ people. The developer’s proposed 174 parking spaces for residents, seven (!) for visitors and zero spaces (!!) for retail is as the Brits would say, ‘taking the piss’ and is a transparent attempt to maximize profits at the community’s expense.

View the slides from the presentation here.

The person behind this development is Catherine Bertucci. There’s not much web evidence of her activity but she’s not popular with the Casa Loma Residents Association where a few years ago, she and a partner bought up Maclean House, a heritage building and according to the association,

“The property had been purchased by Catherine Bertucci and John Malcolm Todd via a numbered company and all they proceeded to obtain vacant possession by arranging for all tenants to vacate the premises.  Prior to obtaining any demolition or building permits the developers were advised of the heritage interest by the Community and City of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services.  While the legal process was underway to determine whether the City would official designate the property as architecturally significant, the developer proceeded to begin demolition of the property including the reckless destruction of many of the significant architectural details of John Lyle’s Maclean House – details that have stood untouched for 100 years.”

It’s still not clear if the developer intends to preserve the heritage buildings near Little Avenue or just the facades.

In conclusion, the developer wants to:

  • build and sell buildings nearly seven times taller than allowable,
  • not provide the required setbacks from the street
  • provide only 33% of the required parking for residents
  • provide no parking for retail stores (instead of 127 required)
  • provide only 40% of the required amenity space per unit

Every high rise along Weston Road began life as a beautiful concept drawing, sold to the community as a future architectural gem and a much needed improvement on the status quo. This one is no different.

There is no doubt that Weston needs development. It just doesn’t need this one.

Rory McNeil at the City Planner’s Office would like to hear from you regarding this development:

by email: [email protected]
by Phone: (416) 394-5683
by letter: City, Planner, Etobicoke York District, 2, Civic Centre Court, Floor 3, Toronto ON, M9C 5A3.

19 thoughts on “Developer meeting report.”

  1. Once again I can not wrap my head around people saying this will have a negative impact on traffic and at the same time complain there isn’t enough parking!!!

    Let me let you in on a little secret. Weston is a transit hub. There are multiple busy intersecting bus lines (52, 89, 79) that can all bring you to a subway station. There is a go station to get downtown, as well as the up express if you want to get to the airport or downtown also.

    You don’t need a ton of parking for retail if your customers live literally above the stores!

    1. Weston is not a ‘hub’. Metrolinx and TTC both refuse to call it that. It should be, but its not.

      Perhaps its because they intend Mount Dennis to be the only hub. Once trains begin stopping in Mt D just wait for the complaining from metrolinx about having to stop twice inside 2 km. And it is telling that Metrolinx does not plan on installing a platform for UP in Weston once the 4th track is operational.

    2. So, you assume that they’ll automatically shop there?
      And, emphatically guarantee it?

      Well, good luck with that assumption. Especially, if it turns out that the product, pricing & customer service is poor. And, it happens in nicer areas than Weston.

      (See the newest condo at Scarlett Road & Eglinton – with a vacancy where there once was a little grocery store right at ground level. What happened?How long did that last? The length of a one year lease?)

      Dare to deliver an inferior product & service, then those No Frills stores, Metro, Superstore & Walmart will have a response to that “poor quality” problem – which will suddenly provide a good enough reason to consider an “amenity” in life known as a car.. and hopefully, parking spot to put it in!

      And, traffic?

      Oh, there’ll be traffic alright – lots of it.

      Little Avenue has always been busy and will get busier because it’s been a town “by-pass”or “ring road” as the city liked to call it – with no shortage of edgy drivers on this 30 kph route – all who probably, don’t live around here and on their way to somewhere else – booting it north & south of town.

      In addition, have a look at Rosemount Avenue these days – a lengthy north/south parallel option to a very busy stop & go Weston Road.

      Rosemount can be crazy busy – made worse if there are complications with issues around Crossroads, it seems. And, it seems even busier than the main drag traffic just west of it. Evidently, a good short cut – with bumper to bumper traffic during the rush.

      And, take a look at the traffic surrounding the local schools near the library. (Does anyone walk to school anymore?)

      Let’s face it, no matter what is said or done – busy traffic ain’t going away from this desirable “location” – located just south of the 401 & 400 series highways.

      It’s a convenience, some would say.

      It’s always been a promotable “selling” feature in real estate- for communities just like Weston – quick & easy access to major highways!

      And, they don’t get any more major than those two super highways just north of town. An “sellable” option that still remains around here – to go along with our rail transit into the city or up to the airport.

      1. Your assumption that people can’t get around this area without a car and buy groceries and other goods just proves you rarely step out of your rolling living room.

        Yes and what of they do shop here? Now what!

        Yes let’s complain about traffic on little ave and then advocate for more cars and surface parking!!! Brilliant.

          1. The developer’s lawyer did say at the meeting that none of the units would be affordable. Not sure why they are building it if nobody can buy one.

  2. Metrolinx is moving away from the ‘hub’ description as they push for transit oriented development at all their stations. I too am perplexed at the argument that there isn’t enough parking AND worry about traffic. And lastly, with electrification, 2km station spacing will be a non-issue. Also, operationally, UP trains only need access to 3 of the 4 tracks, not all 4. There’s no need to spend additional for another platform if the existing meet their contingencies.

    1. Metrolinx has quietly removed electrification from the rfp for the overall contract for building stations and upgrading the go system. It was there before but its gone now. The contractor will decide when (and whether) to electrify.

      Wonder if metrolinx will build 4 UP platforms in Mt dennis?

  3. love that the developer has their people on here posting comments, yet none of these folks showed up at the meeting.
    why must weston always get second hand development?
    the developer can make money by charging more for a larger units, with a parking spot. Make money renting out all the retail space.
    We need parking, we need an attractive building that will have retail and liven that stretch of Weston…clearly what was there didn’t help attract business.

  4. I love how you can’t possibly post anything in support of any development in Weston without people thinking you are working for the developer. I love the conspiracy theories!

    1. this says it all:

      In conclusion, the developer wants to:

      build and sell buildings nearly seven times taller than allowable,
      not provide the required setbacks from the street
      provide only 33% of the required parking for residents
      provide no parking for retail stores (instead of 127 required)
      provide only 40% of the required amenity space per unit

      why does Weston have to give in to garbage development?

    2. I know. It’s the same mentality as someone accusing the author of not living near the development and wishing to shut it down. It’s probably best to argue on the merits of the project.

  5. There you go..
    Why?

    Bigger does not equate to better “quality”..
    it’s just bigger.

    Back to the drawing board, please.
    Make us proud.

    Thanks.

    1. It’s really unfortunate to see so many comments indicating that if you’re in favour of this development that you must be working for the developer. Peak paranoia!

      I am a homeowner in the immediate neighbourhood with a young family, I do not have a car (not fun but a reality), and I am very much in favour of densification of Weston ASAP. New developments like this will lead to more foot traffic, more retail, more transit, reduced crime – gentrification. I’m sorry to hear that some think otherwise based on the events of previous decades (the city has changed since then) and have a pessimistic outlook. I have family in the neighbourhood who have been around many more years and favour this as well.

      I remain confident that this (or a similar) development will only be good for our neighbourhood. +/- parking, why does this matter so much?

      Haven’t been at the community meetings because young family prohibits my time. Haven’t commented much previously since other topics haven’t caught my interest in the same way. Disappointing to hear that this is viewed as “you must be working for the developer”.

      Nonetheless, time marches onward – let’s advocate for enriching our neighbourhood with new residents and new retail! I can’t wait. In the meantime, let’s try to understand each other rather than assume “the other” is a liar / imposter. Not very neighbourly.

      1. you dont live in weston because if you did you would know that adding more buildings to weston does not mean more foot traffic and new retail. its weston, things don’t go they way they are suppose to go.

        1. @ainthatthetruthsays – sorry to hear that’s your belief! I do live in Weston and am hopeful for positive change. Perhaps you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

          1. well then you would notice all the other buildings that line weston rd have done nothing to change the area…..point being is that proper planning and listening to residents will go a long way to improving the area.
            If the city planners clearly see all the problems with the building, then it is important for local residents the BIA, the councilor to listen.
            this would never get built downtown, not in its current form.

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