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Over 40% more homes already proposed

Doug Obright

Doug Obright

“If all residential development applications currently before the city for the Leaside residential area and the residential area within the Leaside Business Park are approved, it would result in an over-40 percent increase in residential units,” Doug Obright,  a planner, said in his keynote presentation to the LPOA at its 2015 annual general meeting in November.

“More major residential applications are expected in the near future.”

He outlined plans that will be presented in the LPOA’s web site (www.lpoa.ca) to get public feedback on what he said some people suggest has put Leaside “under siege”.

The development pressures are split into three areas, he said: Neighbourhoods Areas, Mixed Uses Areas and Employment Areas within the Leaside Business Park.

Neighbourhoods

He chose three areas for review, the corner of Eglinton and Hanna Rd., the Shane Baghai eight-storey condominium proposal on Southvale beside the Leaside Arena, and the quadraplexes south of McDonald’s on Bayview.

At Hanna, he said, the city wants a four-storey townhouse development because of the LRT that wouldn’t fit the neighbourhood and would encourage developers to push further east, all against Official Plan policies.

On Southvale the proposal is to remove the Neighbourhoods Area rules to permit higher construction than now permitted.

“It is reported,” he said, “that a local developer is interested in building a residential condominium possibly with a height of 20+ storeys over the Bayview LRT station planned for the McDonald’s site and that such plans may include the lands of at least one quadraplex to the south currently designated Neighbourhood.”

He added, “In 2003, Residential Character Preservation Guidelines for Leaside were adopted by the city to assist members of the community… in gaining an understanding of what make Leaside’s natural and architectural attributes valuable and how to extend those attributes to new developments. Unfortunately these guidelines have not always been followed.”

Mixed Use Areas

“A lot is happening in the Mixed Use Areas, and they pose a host of challenges for Leaside residents,” he said. “Unfortunately, the Mixed Use policies of the Official Plan are vague with respect to the height and scale of buildings permitted.”

Of special note: Sunnybrook Plaza, the huge proposal for 939 Eglinton at Brentcliffe, the former post office building site at Malcolm and Laird, 146-150 Laird, and Eglinton between Sutherland and Laird where the city wants zoning to permit mid-rise development.

“City Planning has further complicated the situation,” he said, “by dealing with proposals in Mixed Use Areas based on staff’s assessment of the attributes of the specific site. For example larger lots tend to get taller buildings.

“While this provides the city with flexibility in dealing with such proposals, it leaves the community without a clear sense of what is or is not permitted.

“Developers, in their efforts to maximize profits, will submit proposals which are taller and larger in scale than what appears to be the intent of the Official Plan. Unfortunately, if these applications are not challenged, most seem to get approved particularly if they are on larger lots and are anywhere near a public transit corridor.”

Employment Areas

“The Leaside Business Park Association plays a central role in speaking on behalf of property owners in the Park. The residents of Leaside, however, are highly impacted by what goes on there and are interested in supporting the overall well-being of the Park.”

He mentioned the approval of SmartCentre North, which is expected to house a Walmart, and the Costco approval in Thorncliffe Park, which is expected to have traffic that will affect Leaside.

“Moving on to the broader Employment Areas situation,” he said, “the city undertook a comprehensive review of the policies which apply to its employment lands a couple of years ago. Unfortunately the resulting Official Plan amendment did little to provide significant new direction for the Leaside Business Park.

“Big box and other commercial operations have been allowed to develop in a largely uncoordinated fashion resulting in a disparate mix of architectural styles and poor traffic flow through the area.

“A clear vision is needed for the Business Park if it is to take advantage of its prime location and not negatively impact businesses in the Park or the surrounding community.”

As for proposed action on all fronts, he had specific proposals for each development, but finished by saying:

“If the LPOA and the community are to pursue this substantial list of proposed actions and others yet to be identified, the community needs to become much more proactive and engaged and to provide both volunteer time and financial support.”

The specific proposals are expected to be on the LPOA site shortly.