Staff blast Greenland proposal

Roy will have his own article in a moment, but here is my summary of the city’s report on the Greenland building: Absolutely not.

The report rejects the proposal on many different levels. But, in short, the building is far too big and will hurt, rather than “regentrify”, Weston.

The report will be presented to community council on January 8.

At issue is a proposal for two 29-storey towers joined by a very large podium on a relatively small site at Weston and Little.  The official plan for Weston limits buildings to 8 storeys, and fewer close to the road, so the proposed building is far larger, far denser, and far more imposing than permitted. Indeed, the buildings look like a tornado dropped Toronto onto Weston’s heritage.

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 city report says that the proposed building “would result in a bulky, overwhelming presence”, “fails to address the local and planned context” and “is inappropriate for the site”. Staff say the plan should be rejected and redesigned as a “mid-rise building with a 45 degree angular plane provided from the Neighbourhoods, open space and low-rise areas and that particular attention be paid to heritage features”.

It’s not just the architecture. The building will have effects on community space and infrastructure—perhaps for decades. The report says Weston will need:

  • a new elementary school,
  • a new public community centre and
  • a new child care centre

None of these will be built quickly. St John The Evangelist took 5 years just to build—and months were wasted on legal wrangling over a culvert.  A culvert. Could you imagine what it would take to build a school from scratch?

The developers aren’t only asking to draw down Weston. They’re hoping to provide too few common elements for the future owners. They would like to provide less than half the required amenity space and too few parking spaces.

The city has made it clear that residents and representatives  must reject this proposal and demand it be redrawn, from scratch, with the community in mind.

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”.