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Townhouses coming to Evergreen Gardens?

Save Bennington SignWill townhouses come to Bennington Heights? This style of housing development has spread widely in Toronto (just drive up Bayview Avenue north of Lawrence). Leaside has several recent townhouse developments (McRae at Laird, Millwood at Rumsey) and one under construction on McRae at Sutherland.

Now there’s an application in Bennington, but more may be in the offing on Bayview Heights Drive where there are signs of land assembly, with several homes with lease or rental arrangements.

But first some context. Evergreen Gardens, located immediately southwest of the Bayview Avenue and Moore Avenue intersection, is part of a unique area within Bennington Heights originally known as Heathbridge Park. Heathbridge Park comprises an interesting mix of five streets, four of which are cul-de-sacs (Heathbridge Park, Heathbridge Park Road, Windmill Road, and Orchard Road) plus Evergreen Gardens.

Evergreen Gardens was planned by noted architect James A. Murray and his students in 1946 as a “co-operative residential community”. Evergreen Gardens is also the name of a park that fronts on Evergreen Gardens (the street) and backs onto Moore Avenue. With the exception of the six-storey apartment building immediately to the north that fronts Moore Avenue at Bayview Avenue, currently Heathbridge Park is composed exclusively of single family detached houses.

The townhouse application in question proposes to demolish two existing detached houses on Evergreen Gardens and reconstruct a block of townhouses with six units, each with integral garages fronting on Evergreen Gardens. With its large lots, there have been some recent attempts to sever lots into two. One was successful, following a battle that ended at the OMB.

In this case the lot size (36.2 metres wide) would permit two or even three detached homes if desired. This proposal is clearly precedent-setting, introducing a new and more intensive housing form to the area. In fact, the density is higher than some four-storey apartments, with a floor space index of 1.88. Indeed these are very large units, 3,000 sq. ft., 20 ft. wide over three levels. The developer is clearly seeking to achieve the maximum possible density. ‎Plus the larger the unit, the greater the selling price.

Another concern is the location at Evergreen Gardens and Bayview. Bayview is the main street, yet the building would line up with Evergreen Gardens, exposing Bayview to an edge, rather than a front situation.

So where does this issue stand? The community was set to have its say at a Community Consultation meeting on Wednesday, September 28, 2016.

The Preliminary Staff Report providing background information is available at: www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2016/ny/bgrd/backgroundfile-95254.pdf

It’s going to be a contentious proposal, and the residents groups in the area, as well as the councillor, need to hear from you:

  • Bennington Heights Residents’ Association, Hugh Grant at hugh.12008@sympatico.ca
  • Save Our Bennington
    Ian Anderson at isander@tsa.ca
  • Councillor Jon Burnside
    councillor_burnside@toronto.ca