Local blogger Hans Havermann has directed his sleuthing talents to the Hurricane Hazel tragedy that hit our area in 1954. Through some relentless digging he has uncovered some inconsistencies in contemporary and subsequent accounts of the victims and where they lived on Raymore Drive. Hans tells me he feels that the unfortunate victims of the flooding deserve better and hopes that he has provided a step in that direction.
He has also gathered some interesting photographs from that time showing the effects of the flooding.
Read about it here.
A few years ago, there was a proposal to build a 10-storey, 131 unit apartment building called ‘The Riverstone‘ on 10 Wilby, just at Hickory Tree Road – it claimed with some justification to be inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water house. Readers may remember that the vehicle registration office was on the site some years ago. The proposal generated lots of interest but not enough to get off the ground.
In their unsuccessful bid, the non-profit developer Neighbourhood Concepts asked and received permission for two extra floors over the permitted 8. Part of the problem was that the adjacent Hickory Tree Road condos were selling for considerably less at the time. Sadly, Owner and CEO of Neighbourhood Concepts, Nancy Hawley died in 2015 and the site is now owned by another non-profit developer Options For Homes. They are requesting permission to build a high rise building double the permitted height to 16 storeys and increase the number of apartments to 234. By way of comparison, the condos (see above photo) at 1 and 3 Hickory Tree Road are 19 stories and the two buildings have a total of 413 apartments.
There are rules already in place about the height and placement of buildings in Weston but specifically for Wilby Crescent:
Due to the anomalous lot shapes and slope profiles, any rezoning and site-plan applications in the Wilby Crescent area will specifically address appropriate siting and built form considerations in a manner compatible with the unique topographic features in the area.
Planners recognize that this is a special area overlooking the Humber, but Options For Homes wants to build taller and wider and closer to the property line / parkland etc. In a February 2016 meeting with OFH, Council expressed issues with the proposed development citing:
…significant concerns with respect to height, massing, configuration of the building at grade, the lack of landscaping, the relationship between the base of the building and the public realm, shadow impacts, the size of the floor plate for floors 11-16 and the lack of differentiation in the materials between the podium and tower components of the proposed building.
Options For Homes apparently engineered a small land swap to make the site more regular. Adding extra height to a building makes each unit more affordable. If you can add more floors to a building, the cost of the foundations, elevators etc. is spread a lot thinner.
Bottom line: it’s probably a done deal – especially since the Weston Southern Weston Road Corridor neighbourhood is already zoned for apartment buildings. The problem once again will be finding buyers but this time, the UP Express is operating and is a short walk away, allowing a commute to Union Station in 14 minutes or Pearson’s Terminal One in 12 minutes. Adding to the attractiveness for first time buyers, the units will be sold at cost with an option to have the difference from market value used as a deposit. Any appreciation will be shared between the homeowner and developer once the homeowners sell, along with the return of the deposit. To keep prices even lower, there will be no community amenities such as a pool or sauna.
The proposed building will be discussed at the next Etobicoke York Community Council meeting on January 17. The City’s Planning Department is recommending a community consultation.
By the numbers:
- Number of Units: 234
- Height of building 55 metres or 180 feet.
- Storeys: 16
- Number of parking spaces – Cars: 161 Bicycles: 235
- Apartment Types: 14 Batchelor apts.
- 33 One-bedroom apts. 69 One bedroom plus den apts.
- 56 Two bedroom apts. 62 Two bedroom plus den apts.
The retaining wall that was originally to cost $250,000 is now complete and it’s a thing of beauty. The cost has probably risen considerably since the staging area had to be paved with rubble.
The new wall should protect the homes along the edge of the east Humber for centuries. The large limestone blocks in the wall will also provide a home for small animals such as mink.
The temporary bridge spanning the Humber that was used to access the far shore has been removed and the course of the river is back to where it was. All that remains is to restore and replant the staging area then upgrade the Pan Am Path. This should be completed once the sewage pipe upgrade and leash free zone have been completed, possibly by fall 2017.
According to newly minted Ward 2 Councillor Mike Ford, the leash free zone in Raymore Park began construction in earnest at the beginning of October. The plans are available at this link. Anticipated opening is set for next spring.