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Here comes Shane Baghai

You may have noticed that right next to the driveway into the Leaside Gardens is a sign saying Coming soon – Shane Baghai.

Developer Baghai has acquired the first two properties on Southvale Dr. (the former auction house and the former caterer), west of the Gardens. He proposes to build a condominium on that site.

He and his team approached the LPOA with some design details, and we’ve had the opportunity to raise a number of questions, but await a formal proposal and application. Check our web site lpoa.ca for (pardon the expression) developments.

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Roughly 200 Leaside residents attended a recent public consultation meeting at the Leaside Memorial Gardens by the city’s planning department. Costco has made an application to rezone a strip of what is now city-owned green space, within the Hydro corridor on Thorncliffe Park Dr., on the north side of Overlea Blvd. This land would provide overflow parking for its proposed giant store, gas bar and parking lot at 42-46 Overlea.

The Costco store itself has not yet been recommended by city staff, nor approved by North York Community Council, and there are a lot of good reasons why it should not be.

Many Leasiders asked why the rezoning-for-parking-space should even be considered, in the absence of an official decision on the Costco store. This was “putting the cart before the horse.

Wouldn’t rezoning that strip of land actually aid and encourage Costco, and other subsequent big box developers, to build a wall of big box retail all along Overlea? A terminal case of “retail contagion” would be the result, radically affecting the Thorncliffe neighbourhood, and Leaside too, creating huge increases in retail-driven flow-through traffic which would dwarf the traffic problems we already have.

There was also considerable criticism about paving over already scarce green space in Thorncliffe, and about converting public land into private use.

The LPOA believes that the city should hold another official public meeting to examine the entire Costco application in more detail, before the matter goes to council for a decision, and before wrong – and irreversible – decisions are made.

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The RioCan redevelopment proposal for Sunnybrook Plaza, about which I wrote in my previous column, is ongoing. The RioCan team made a presentation at the March LPOA board meeting, which was also attended by a number of Leasiders who live next to the site. They, and board members, raised many questions.

The proposed height of the two condo towers (19 and 13 storeys) came in for a lot of criticism. Chief among them was the sheer massiveness of the design. This is an intersection which should be mid-rise, not high rise, according to the Eglinton Connects plans, which we believe should be respected.

Other concerns include the impact of shadowing on, and loss of privacy for, adjacent homes to the north and east; the lack of outdoor public amenity space on the site; the insufficient assessment of the traffic volumes and directions of flow generated by such a development; and a complete lack of room in neighbourhood schools, which are already at or over capacity.

The city is required to hold an official public meeting in the community on this application, and Councillor Burnside has already met with a number of nearby residents. When there is any news about meetings, or changes to the proposal, LPOA will put the information onto our web site.