Community asks for family-sized residences, amenities
NEWS FEB 15, 2018 BY JUSTIN SKINNER TORONTO.COM
A proposal to develop a former school property at the corner of Bloor and Dufferin streets has everyone from the councillor to businesses to residents crying foul over what they say is too much density and not enough in terms of community benefits.
The application calls for more than 2,200 residential units in a number of towers, including mid-rises and four high-rises ranging from 25 to 47 storeys in height, with more than 15,000 square metres of retail on the lower levels. The project would stretch from Bloor to Croatia Street on a 7.3-acre site.
Erella Ganon, a moderator at the Friends of Dufferin Park website, acknowledged that the area was slated to undergo growth, but said the community was promised a development that would provide community benefits, including a community hub. The application presented to city, she says, does not offer the promised perks.
“A canyon of towers with retail flagship stores at the bottom is not my idea of something that benefits the community,” she said.
“A canyon of towers with retail flagship stores at the bottom is not my idea of something that benefits the community.”
– Erella Ganon, Friends of Dufferin ParkGanon noted that most of the surrounding area consists of three- and four-storey buildings, with the streetscape consisting largely of small, independent retailers. She said the proposed high rise development would alter the community immeasurably.
“Rents will triple and those little ma and pa stores will be gone,” she said.
She added that a community hub that was promised appears to have been scaled back as well.
“We were supposed to get a 30,000 sq.-ft. community hub with daycare spaces and a community centre. Now we find that the daycare spaces have been taken out of the community hub,” she said. “They’re putting the community hub into the basement of a building. I don’t feel they’re negotiating in good faith.”
Liz Lukashevsky, chair of the Bloordale BIA, said the proposal would spell doom for many small businesses in the area. While the proposal would bring a number of families into the area, the retail included in the proposal would cause plenty of hardship.
“If the small, independent businesses on Bloor Street are put into competition with large multinational businesses, a lot of them wouldn’t be able to survive,” she said. “It’s pretty much a mall (on the ground floor of the development.)”
Lukashevsky would like retail space in the project to include independent retailers, but she knows such decisions would be out of the community’s hands. Beyond the issues with retail space, she echoed Ganon’s concerns about the community hub not living up to expectations and the proposed towers being too tall.
“They want to go over 40 storeys and I don’t think they’ll get that,” she said.
She also hopes to see family-sized units take precedence in the development as opposed to one-bedroom units.
“We want families who will get engaged with the community and stay around to be part of it,” she said. “One-bedrooms, you get people moving in and out and you don’t get that same community spirit.”
Davenport Coun. Ana Bailao said the community is well aware that the site will be developed more than it has been in the past, but she agreed with residents that the current application is far too big for the area.
“Nobody was expecting a single-family home development… but we would all like to see something significantly lower,” she said. “I want to allow (city) planning to come back to us with some sort of planning rationale for the site.”
While the community is widely opposed to the current development, Bailao is hopeful a compromise can be reached that will decrease the density on the site and improve the amenities for both new residents who move into the units and those who have lived in the area for years.
“I’m looking forward to working with the community to make this a good development for everybody,” she said.
For more information on the development, visit www.bloordufferin.com