Some answers to community questions about Greenland Farms development

The developers of the Greenland Farms site held a  consultation this week at Weston CI, and their representatives answered some of the community’s questions.

The developer’s concept drawing of the finished product. Note the size of the storefronts at the base of the structure. Click to enlarge.

The development was repeatedly framed as “regentrification” and an opportunity to have more owners move to the neighbourhood. Adam Brown, the solicitor for the applicant, also suggested that the prices would be in $500–$800 per square foot range, much less than downtown.

I got little sense, however, that the developers had any interest in community development, except insofar as it was required by law. Brown said the building would conform to the city’s green standards  because it has to, and that the developers would contribute to development funding, because it is the law. It was, to my mind, a contrast to the 22 John development, which promised public benefits above those required by the city.

The audience applauded when Mike Sullivan, our former MP and a contributor to WestonWeb, asked why the site was so ugly. The audience was generally skeptical and critical of the projects size (two towers), height (29 storeys), and proximity to the property lines.

The developers’ representatives did answer questions posed by the audience, some of which Roy asked in an earlier post.


Why is this development not in keeping with the scale of the area.

Brown said that development required a “critical mass”. “You will not see regentrification or redevelopment of the area at 8 storeys”, he said—the height called for by the local planning guidelines. “There is an economic reality to it.”

If this project is approved, where will the considerable Section 37 monies be spent?

Brown said that there hasn’t yet been any discussion of section 37 benefits, because the development is at too early a stage.

  • Why are there so few parking spaces allocated?

“We are not anticipating a high demand for parking…. I know the city would like us to provide more parking on site”, he said. He suggested that most residents would be commuters to downtown and not want cars to get around the suburbs—a questionable assumption, I think.

He acknowledged, too, that if a grocery store were to be a tenant, that “they will ask for more parking”.

Where are the shadow studies for the winter months?

City rules do not require shadow studies for the winter. The city planner said “we have some concerns”.

Black Cat Espresso Bar gets BlogTO write-up.

One of these days I’m planning on walking over to Weston’s latest coffee shop, the new Black Cat Espresso Bar at 46 Rosemount Avenue. Amy Carlberg at blogTO has done a feature article on the place complete with interior shots and some mouth-watering photos.

Read all about it here.

Weston Asset Management Development questions

On Thursday November 28, at Weston Collegiate Institute, a meeting will be held to assess public reaction to a huge development proposed for Weston’s old ‘Main Street’.

There’s no doubt development is needed in Weston. The question is what form should it take? Do we want the familiar streetscape of the current architecture (Bloor West Village style), something moderately larger or are people ok with the gargantuan development being proposed. Once a pattern of new development along Weston Road is established, it will set the trend. Until recently, the plan for Weston was for something moderate that would fit into the streetscape.

Now there is no mention of Weston in Toronto’s official Plan and it seems strange that this has happened without community input.

Here’s what the old guidelines said about development in the area.

GUIDELINES

The following general objectives have been established for the Weston area.

Weston will be recognized as a distinct and significant community within the City of Toronto,
as a community rooted in its history. Weston has experienced considerable change in land use, employment, retail activity and residential character and will continue to experience these changes in the future. The challenge is to recapture Weston’s unique character of the past within a greatly changed urban area and reality. These guidelines will help manage any future change within Weston in order to achieve the following goals:

  • The revitalization of retail and community activity along Weston Road as the strong and attractive heart of Weston
  • The maintenance of the quality of life in the neighbourhoods
  • The introduction of new residential development along the Weston Road corridor
  • The generation of new employment opportunities on former industrial lands
  • The enhancement of the Humber Valley as an environmental and recreational asset for the city.

All buildings located in Weston Village will be limited to a maximum height of 24 metres with the following exception:

– buildings fronting onto Weston Road and/or John Street will be limited to a maximum height of 3 storeys or 9 metres for all portions of the buildings located within 6 metres of the street line. Any additional height above the third storey will be set back a minimum of 3 metres from the face of the base building to a maximum height of 8 storeys (24 metres) 

Why is 8 stories no longer the limit? Surely Councillor Nunziata should have kept the community informed of this change, official or not. To go from 8 to 29 stories is a huge increase.

There seems to be an effort from supporters of this project to put their thumb on the scale – one person alone commented 9 times on the previous article. The attitude from some supporters seems to be, “Shut up and be grateful NIMBY”.

There’s nothing wrong with development provided it enriches the community – not just the developer. This project is way too large and will do nothing for the community except add traffic, shadow and sewage issues.

It’s not as if we haven’t learned this lesson before. When the Weston Hub was proposed, it was going to be a shining beacon and provide all things to all people, including an indoor / outdoor farmers market and community centre. Now it looks as if there won’t even be room for the Farmers Market when traders use the designated space next May.

Questions that should concern every Weston resident:

  • Do we want to place these huge high rises in the heart of Weston?
  • Why is this development not in keeping with the scale of the area.
  • Why has the project doubled in size since the last public consultation?
  • If this project is approved, where will the considerable Section 37 monies be spent? (Let’s hope no more Nychtophilias)
  • Why are there so few parking spaces allocated? (There are 7 above ground parking spaces (for visitors) and 174 below ground for a building that will house more than a thousand people. Weston is not downtown Toronto.)
  • If a supermarket opens on the second floor, where will people park and how will they carry groceries to their cars?
  • Where are the shadow studies for the winter months?
  • Who are the people behind Weston Asset Management?
  • Why does Weston Asset Management have no web presence?
  • What is Councillor Nunziata’s position on this development?

Read more about the project here. The developer’s application materials can be found here.

If you cannot attend the meeting, and would like to provide input, Rory McNeil at the City Planner’s Office would like to hear from you:

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.

Planning Application Consultation:
Date: November 28, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Location: Weston Collegiate Institute; 100 Pine Street.

22 John in the news for large rent increases: quite a bit to do about much less than appears

The new rental building at 22 John was in the news last week for asking tenants to pay as much as 21.6% more than last year—an increase they’ve since backed down on.

From Google Maps

A spokesperson told The Star that tenants can reduce the rent increase  by signing a year-long lease instead of moving to a month-to-month agreement when their agreements come up for renewal. The increase could still be as much as 10%, however.

Chiara Padovani, a local advocate, said today on Twitter:

Padovani, who was a rival for the councillor’s seat, has started a petition calling for rent control province wide.

It’s a bit more complicated than that.

Rockport did not receive city tax money to build for-profit rentals. They received waivers  and $7 million in provincial and federal money—but it was to build  below-market apartments and public spaces. 22 John is a mixed-use building, with a jumble of market and subsidized spaces.

Rockport only received help to build the below-market spaces. They built the for-profit spaces with their own money. Those rents are—rightly or wrongly—theirs alone to set.

Frances Nunziata, rightly, voted against applying rent control on buildings just like 22 John: buildings in which mixed incomes live together. It was perfectly reasonable to do that; after all, mixed-income buildings are good and should be encouraged.

 

 

Trouble at Shakespeare in Action

Michael Kelly, Artistic Director at Shakespeare in Action has been accused of  ‘making a racist remark’ by actors working on the production of ‘Sound and Fury’. The show, scheduled for Friday November 22nd was cancelled by SIA’s board of directors as a result of the accusations. The theatre company was chosen to be a co-tenant in the Artscape Weston Hub and began its residence earlier this year.

Mr. Kelly founded Shakespeare in Action in 1988. Here is the full statement from the SIA Board posted after the show was cancelled:

“Statement from Board of Directors, Shakespeare in Action 

ON NOVEMBER 12, 2019, THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF SHAKESPEARE IN ACTION (SIA) BECAME AWARE OF ALLEGED ACTIONS TAKEN BY ARTISTIC DIRECTOR MICHAEL KELLY DURING A REHEARSAL OF “SOUND AND FURY” ON NOVEMBER 9, 2019. HE HAS BEEN ACCUSED BY ACTORS WHO WERE EMPLOYED BY THE COMPANY OF MAKING A RACIST REMARK. 

The SIA Board has taken immediate steps to suspend Michael Kelly from his duties as Artistic Director of Shakespeare in Action and is conducting a full investigation into this incident. We are making every effort to speak with all parties involved and hope to conclude this investigation swiftly and fairly. We are also taking steps to ensure lasting organizational changes and improved policies are put in place to prevent this type of incident from occurring in the future. 

It is of paramount importance to the Board and Shakespeare in Action that its performance spaces are safe and inclusive for all people regardless of creed, ethnic origin, place of origin, race, colour, ancestry, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. We believe it is our duty to ensure that all employees and actors feel safe, included and respected when working with the Company. 

We regret any pain caused to actors, stage crew, SIA staff and anyone else involved and are working to resolve this matter as quickly as possible. We anticipate concluding our investigation by November 25th, 2019 and will issue a further statement at that time. “

UPDATE:

This statement from the Shakespeare in Action Board of Directors was released on Monday November 25.

“The Board of Directors of Shakespeare in Action has concluded its investigation into the actions taken by artistic director Michael Kelly during a rehearsal of “Sound and Fury” on November 9th, 2019. 

The Board of SIA is aware that more than two weeks have now elapsed since November 9th, and it remains committed to a timely resolution. However, the Board would like to avoid acting hastily and rashly while it considers the findings of its investigation. The Board will deliver its findings and recommendations no later than the end of the week. 

In the interim, Michael Kelly continues to remain suspended from his duties as Artistic Director of Shakespeare in Action.”

Hussen shuffled into new position

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed his cabinet yesterday, and Ahmed Hussen, our MP, was moved to the Department of Families, Children, and Social Development.

The move may come as a relief to Hussen, whose position as Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship was very contentious. A loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement has allowed 23,00 people to enter Canada and claim refugee status, placing his department under scrutiny and contributing to the Liberal’s loss of seats in Quebec.

He had a strained relationship with his provincial and Conservative counterparts before the PM took him off the refugee task force and gave the responsibilities to Bill Blair.

From Wikipedia