The lady doth protest too much

Frances Nunziata’s office pamphletedIMG_20150429_223023~2 Weston this week with a defence of the proposed 30-storey tower on King. The new proposed tower will be much taller than original proposal, which had only 18 storeys.

Nunziata’s flyer says that “a[n opposing] flyer has been circulated throughout the community to rally support for an 18-story tower which will result IMG_20150429_223055in greater shadow impacts and less public space for the community’s use, including the Farmers’ Market.”

Her flyer, by contrast, says that the 30-storey proposal is necessary to meet the Tall Building Guidelines, “which apply across the city” (her emphasis). This taller building will also, she says, reduce the impact of the shadow and allow for more community space.

I don’t believe that these statements are true.

The Tall Building Guidelines say,

Tall buildings are desirable in the right places but they don’t belong everywhere…. When poorly located and designed, tall buildings can physically and visually overwhelm adjacent streets, parks and neighbourhoods. They can block sunlight, views of the sky and create uncomfortable wind conditions in adjacent streets, parks and open space, and create traffic congestion. For these reasons, tall buildings come with larger civic responsibilities and obligations than other buildings.

The longer report also says, very clearly, that the guidelines are guidelines and should be used with other important documents like the “Official Plan, applicable Zoning By-Laws, Secondary Plans and Heritage Conservation District Plans”. They also “should also be afforded some flexibility in application” (Page 12).

Far from being binding on Weston, as she suggests they are, the guidelines themselves say that tall buildings should “fit within the existing or planned context and provide an appropriate transition in scale down to lower-scaled buildings, parks, and open space.” It is not clear to me that this building is in context with the rest of our community.

I do not think that Nunziata’s shadow argument is very good either. The area of a shadow is the function of the height and the width. Certainly, a wider building casts a shadow that lasts longer in the area that it reaches—but a taller building casts a longer shadow and reaches out farther. The area affected will be, mathematically, exactly the same.

Nunziata’s pamphlet says that there will be rezoning meetings and a community consultation. I certainly hope that we can get more facts with less spin than we received this time from our councillor.

InsideToronto on cultural hub

InsideToronto has an in-depth article on the history and future of the proposed John Street cultural hub:

While Weston is in desperate need of revitalization, Nunziata said, the relocation of the Weston GO station to south of Lawrence Avenue created a parking lot surplus for the city-owned Toronto Parking Authority, which created an opportunity for this public-private project.

With the addition of the new UP Express stop at the Weston GO station, there is an opportunity to attract new developers and businesses to the area. But, she said, those businesses need an incentive.

“You need someone to come in with a vision to attract other businesses to the area,” she said, which the cultural hub could do. “Hopefully, that will kick off new businesses along Weston Road and bring in a lot of people to Weston.”