John Street changes

Speaking of sidewalks, changes are likely coming to John Street. The Etobicoke York Community Council will consider making the intersection of John and Weston roads narrower.

The city wants to widen the sidewalks, remove a lane on John Street, shorten the turn radius, and add pro-pedestrian signals.

Map of John and Weston

I’m a pretty pro-pedestrian, pro-bike kind of guy, but this seems like a mistake to me. John Street is a disaster. Cars park on both sides of the street, making turning difficult already. Pedestrians cross from the parking lot and alley halfway up, and the auto repair shop is less than fully compliant and quite busy. It’s virtually impossible to drive on John without stopping as it is. Narrowing it—especially without vigilant enforcement of parking and stopping bylaws—is going to make that much worse.

If I had my druthers, I’d ruther the city tackle the left turn from South Station Street onto John. It’s wide, fast, and really needs a stop sign to allow pedestrians safe passage to the pedestrian bridge. I’ve seen many cars turning from South Station Street going too fast onto John, going from a wide, amenable street onto a narrow, crowded one.

I think the city is tackling the wrong end of the problem.

Opposition to 96 John

Community members are petitioning to stop the severance of 96 John St. The owners asked the city to allow them to split the property into two, and to build another house with a shared driveway.

The houses would be violating several planning rules; in short, they would be too big for the properties.

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In other planning news, Frances Nunziata says that the developers of 8 Oak Street (the Satin Finish property) are asking to change their plans. Now they want a  “mid-rise development” instead of 3-storey townhomes.

Artscape survey online

Artscape has launched a website for Artscape Weston. They promise that

The vision for Artscape Weston Hub will be developed from the ground up in the local community and will respond to the needs and interests of neighbours, community partners and other local stakeholders . Plans for Artscape Weston Hub will be developed in response to this shared vision and the community will continue to have an important role to play in stewarding the project once it has opened.

You can also make (some of) your feelings felt through an online survey. The questions are for only the Artscape project, not the associated residential tower.

Your humble correspondent was most intrigued by the comparison Artscape makes between Weston and Wychwood Barns, a comparison first and most ably raised by Roy. Roy found the contrast to be, well, marked.

Artscape seems to be engaging in a little of what my high-power sales-executive friend calls ‘expectation management’

Is the Artscape Weston Hub meant to be the same as the Barns?

… In the case of the Barns, the opportunity that presented itself was a 60,000 square foot, city-owned, heritage building in search of a use. In the case of the Weston project, the opportunity came in the form of a request for proposals for a city-owned parking lot next to an underutilized grocery store and parking structure. 

While I am refreshed by this frank writing, as an aside, I remain puzzled about Artscape building nice spaces in nice places. They ‘transform communities‘, and building more where much exists is an odd way to do that.

 

 

Water main break shuts down Weston businesses

Yesterday a water main broke sending water flooding down John Street. Metrolinx is working to install a pedestrian bridge in that area and repairs took about nine hours. Businesses along John Street were affected. Because waterman repair is a function of the City, unfortunately, the notification that residents and businesses would have no water for several hours fell between the cracks.

Water flowing from the main break on Wednesday May 6.
Water flowing from the main break on Wednesday May 6. Photo: Weston B.I.A.

This should have been where either the City or Metrolinx’s Community Office swung into action to notify long suffering residents and businesses (such as Pizza Pizza who were forced to close).

It’s surprising that nobody saw this coming. Let’s hope further interruptions can be avoided.

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.

City Council will consider ‘Community Hub’ in Weston next week

City Council will vote on funding the cultural hub in Weston next week.

The development will have

  • An 18-storey tower with 350 rental units
  • An 800-square meter (8600 square foot) community/cultural hub
  • 26 rental artist live/work units
  • An 1,150 square meter (12000 square foot) open-space area for the  Weston Farmers’ Market
  • A 75-spot parking lot

The apartment building, townhouses, and live-work spaces will be built on the John Street parking lot and in the vacant spaces under 33-35 King.

City Council will be voting next week to “expedite the planning review process once the Rockport Group has made the necessary planning applications”, among other motions.

The proposal to Council says:

The proposed multi-million dollar investment in the Development will create some 940 new jobs, which, together with the local expansion of public transit byMetrolinx and GO Transit will contribute to an area-wide social and economic revitalization…. The cost to build the Community/Cultural Hub, Live/Work Units and Open Space Area is projected to be $13.3 million, including an operating reserve.

 

Construction is expected to begin in 2016.

 

96 John St requests severance

The owners of 96 John Street have asked the city to let them sever their property. Doing so will violate several planning regulations, including

  • The frontages will be less than required
  • The lot areas will be smaller than required
  • The dwellings will take up a larger-than-allowed portion of the lot
  • The lots will not have the required amount of lawn or landscaping
  • The garage will be larger than required

The applicants will be making their case before the committee of adjustment this Thursday at 1:00 pm at the York Civic Centre, 2700 Eglinton Avenue West.

Oct 30, 2014 2 3 Oct 30, 2014