Major Weston Property Deal Being Cooked…Ramifications all round

Ever since Scotiabank pulled the plug on its Weston and Lawrence location, speculation has been mounting regarding the future of the corner site. It’s a bit of a historic building in its own right and might even be preserved in some form when redevelopment inevitably takes place.

When the discussions (Charettes) around planning for the UP Express were taking place back in 2011-12, the site was bandied about as having a possible future institutional use – perhaps a community college (George Brown) or a YMCA facility – later deep-sixed by the YMCA themselves. George Brown’s objection was that without all day GO Train service, the location would not be considered. Now that we have (a sort of) all-day service and as an added bonus the newly affordable UP Express, perhaps the college will reconsider but it may be too late.

Next door to the Scotiabank site, the Weston Park Baptist Church (WPBC) community has made no secret that they would be interested in selling up, together with their parking lot received as a donation several years ago. They also expressed an interest in being part of any new development of the site. Incidentally, the WPBC parking lot saved the Farmers Market’s bacon earlier this season when in spite of years of advanced notice, Metrolinx puzzlingly fell mute on permission to use the UP Express parking lot on Saturdays. At short notice, Weston Park’s minister saved the day and the market was able to operate on WPBC land until Metrolinx’s vast bureaucracy was prodded into spitting out the necessary paperwork.

Added together, these two locations plus any land that Metrolinx throws in, would form a site with considerable development potential. In the original Charette plans, it was deemed that the street frontages of any new buildings on Weston and Lawrence would be low to mid-rise while anything built further back from Weston Road near the tracks could go higher. Rumour has it that a deal has been in the works for some time and that once the details are carved in stone, the public will be invited to comment.

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The site as imagined in 2012.

We all know by now that City building guidelines go out the window whenever a developer offers a few crumbs to the community so cynical readers will know to expect some tall residential buildings on that corner. Add a rubber stamp from the ever-so-accommodating Weston Village Residents’ Association (representing a tiny fraction of the thousands of people in Weston) and yet another golden opportunity will have been lost.

One side-effect of having the WPBC parking lot out of commission is that in 2018, the Farmers Market will be dragged kicking and screaming back to a much smaller space in the newly built and pristine Weston Hub. Unlike the current set-up, space will be at a premium so traders’ vehicles will have to be parked relatively far away. Traders are very unhappy about this. Removing the WPBC parking lot as an alternate site will reduce the possibility of a mutiny on the part of these traders, a feisty and vociferous bunch who have enjoyed increased sales at the more visible Weston Road location and are murmuring about boycotting the new Hub site. This lack of an alternative location will be a win for Councillor Nunziata who would have some ‘splainin’ to do if the ‘Farmers’ were able to boycott the new digs. It still remains to be seen whether or not the traders (some of whom are actual farmers) will be able to fit into the smaller spaces more suited to selling pickled condiments than pumpkins and unshucked corn.

Whatever happens, you can guarantee that the people who actually live, work and shop in Weston will be the last ones to be consulted or informed.

9 thoughts on “Major Weston Property Deal Being Cooked…Ramifications all round”

  1. This is sad. Why oh why can’t developers take second place to community interests? We’ll have more anonymity and lack of opportunity for neighbourhood activities, except for empty-street crime scenes.
    City council just waives regulations when developers beckon, and we spend time in useless meetings bring “consulted” (insulted, and with the job done ignored: as with the John Street bridge … etc etc).

  2. But in the end it doesn’t matter because Weston will continue to get the short end of the stick and will get stuck with poor planning poor development. Why in the world do they keep dumping more and more rental towers in Weston….??? What is the city planning to do turn Weston into the old Regent Park?

  3. This corner development is even more important to Weston than the John Street Cultural Hub. This corner represents the best location in Weston in regards to transportation and visibility and this development will shape our Weston downtown as the southern portion continues to development, because the UPX stop we made happen in Weston. I believe we do have a voice in the development we receive in Weston and having a group like the Weston Residence Association definitely aids in the properly development of Weston.

    1. Dave you need to open your eyes and see that Weston Rd is already lined with plenty of rental towers and poor development that have fallen into the gutter….can you not see this? Makes you wonder whose side thd Resident Group is on….the developers rather then residents.

  4. “Weston Residence Association definitely aids in the property development of Weston.” – Is this the same association that opposes new homes being built? Wasn’t there a property asking to be severed and a new home being built, but the Residence Association opposed it? Haha! What Weston needs is more homes, not more 30 storey apartment buildings.

    1. Yes, because severing a lot in the middle of an established residential street, giving it a width narrower than 98% of the 400+ detached homes in the neighbourhood, is not in the neighbourhood’s interest. It’s only in the interest of the property owner/developer trying to squeeze every cent out of his land value. Allowing it will promote a run on what is still somewhat affordable housing stock with decent family-sized yards by developers so they can sever and build out McMansions on narrow lots. That’s in no-one’s interest.

      The reality is that there is no additional land for detached homes, save conversion of industrial-zoned land. The best we can add are medium (towns next to Wards) or high density development. We have a multi-modal transit hub now at Weston station so we are inevitably going to be a nodal point for increased development…that’s a given in an urban setting and a requirement.

      Any development, including the podiums of towers, that puts eyes on the street will improve safety and security. What we can do is try to demand through the upzoning process, design excellence, an appropriate mix of uses, and an appropriate mix of unit sizes.

      1. WOW….ya lets keep adding more and more towers to Weston Rd. Keep at it and see Weston spiral further down the toilet. I would be more willing to push for mid-rise units with store fronts lining Weston Rd, and more townhomes so long as they are built on the higher end level…..no more rental, co-ops, TCH along Weston Rd, we have are share of that.

        1. I’m pro-tower (to a degree), but not pro rental tower. Market or assisted-mortgage condos (like the one being proposed just south of Weston Rd. on Hickory Tree) are the way to go. I imagine we won’t be seeing much in the way of new high-rise north of King, or south of the existing towers adjacent to the station. Even Cruickshank had proposed redevelopment with mid-rise, and is instead just renovating their dealership.

          But at the intersection of two major roads, adjacent to a train station with 15 minute frequency, we have to expect high density. The charette calls for mid-rise (rightfully) abutting the streets, which is important to build a human-scale, vibrant street wall.

          1. Problem is that Weston seems to always get the short end. Poor planning, poor development…LACK OF LEADERSHIP. Look at the relatively new building across from Oak St, look at the Twin Towers right infront of the train station…..whatever is facing street level should be all retail stores of different size, and an attempt should be made to lure some brand name retailers to those sites. Money collected for Section 37 should go to something along Weston Rd everyone can enjoy (outdoor skating rink, a piazza with fountain) something in terms of beautification and playful….last time we got section 37 money it went to building those ugly street light poles down in Mount Dennis (just ugly). WE NEED MORE HIGHER END DEVELOPMENT NOT LOW CHEAP DEVELOPMENT – there is plenty of vacancy in the low income building lining Weston Rd.

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