Recent Posts

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Save the Date - Jan. 18 for CCQLD Annual General Meeting

Hi everyone,

We wanted to give you an early heads-up that CCQLD's 2011 Annual General Meeting will take place on Tuesday January 18, 7:30 pm., at Birchcliff Bluffs United Church (behind the library, corner Warden and Kingston Rd). We will be electing the CCQLD Board for 2011 and providing an overview of where things stand. Scarborough Southwest Councillor Gary Crawford, who made the Quarry Lands issue a top priority during the recent municipal election, will be present to share his thoughts.

Also at the AGM, there will be lawn signs available for purchase for $10. If you had put your name on the sign list previously, we encourage you to pick your sign up (and pay the $10 if you haven't already) at that time.

A quick update on recent developments:

You may recall that in August, the Ontario Municipal Board instructed Gerrard Clonmore Developments (GCD) and the City to try to work out mutually acceptable modifications to a site plan for one of GCD's proposed high rise tower buildings by Dec. 31 of this year. While the two parties have talked, no mutually acceptable changes have been agreed upon. City planning staff, like CCQLD, continues to believe the proposed development is inappropriate for this property and flies in the face of good planning and community-building.

As a result, it is possible that GCD and the City will appear before the OMB in late January or February to present separate submissions. We will be monitoring the situation in upcoming weeks and will let everyone know as soon as a new OMB date is set.

Build Toronto -- the city's arms-length development arm that has been assigned responsibility over the large piece of city-owned property at the northwest part of the site -- is also exploring its options. CCQLD is working to arrange a meeting with Build Toronto to get a better idea of their intentions, and to reiterate the unanimous sentiment within our community that whether it be on city land or private land, there must be responsible development across the Quarry Lands site, with utmost attention paid to serious environmental concerns and the needs and existing character of the surrounding community.

That's the short version for now. We look forward to providing a complete update on Jan. 18

Thanks as always for your support, and all the best for the holiday season,

Board of Directors,
Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 2010 Update

Hi everyone,

It has been a while since our last update so we have a bit of catching up to do.

First off, thanks to all candidates for Ward 36 Councillor who participated in the CCQLD-organized all-candidates debate prior to the recent municipal election, and to all CCQLD members who came out to make their views heard. The event showed once again how strongly members of our community feel about ensuring responsible development on the Quarry Lands. Congratulations go out to the winning candidate Gary Crawford, who takes over as Councillor from the retiring Brian Ashton on Dec. 1.

The CCQLD executive met with Gary shortly after the election to further brief him on relevant issues and the Quarry lands process to date. Gary has also met already with Brian Ashton and Derek Ballantyne, the head of Build Toronto. As a reminder, Build Toronto is responsible for the second-largest piece of land on the full 49-acre site. We have been concerned that, like the private developer GCD, Build Toronto may also be seeking to maximize value through inappropriate high density development on their lands. We are hoping to meet with Mr. Ballantyne in the near future and will keep everyone posted.

Gerrard Clonmore Developments (GCD) and city planners also have been in touch in recent weeks. We are told that the door has been opened to some new site plan ideas that are a departure from the relatively narrow adjustments both parties were directed to discuss coming out of this summer's Ontario Municipal Board decision. We will stay in touch with the planning department and will pass on any new information as soon as it becomes available. As
always, we continue to stress the importance of community input and consultation as critical elements within any productive planning process.

A final note: We're finally moving ahead with ordering the next batch of lawn signs. For those of you who have already put your names on the list, we will be in touch once the signs arrive. If you haven't asked for a sign but would like one, please make an email request to Signs cost $10, to be paid upon pick-up. In coming weeks we will also be sending out a save-the-date notice for our Annual General Meeting in January -- stay tuned for more information on both fronts.

Thanks as always for your support.

CCQLD Board of Directors

Sunday, September 26, 2010

CCQLD Hosting Ward 36 All-Candidates Meeting Oct. 21

Hi everyone,

This is to let you know that Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development will be hosting a Ward 36 All-Candidates meeting, Thursday Oct. 21 at Variety Village (3701 Danforth Ave), from 7-9:30 pm.

This will be an opportunity for the community to hear directly from candidates running to replace Councillor Ashton and represent our interests at City Hall. The meeting will be focussed primarily on the Quarry Lands issue, although there will be some opportunity to address other issues of concern to area residents.

As you know, the opposition to the proposed development on the Quarry Lands site is overwhelming from within our community, the city planning department and elected representatives from all three levels of government. Not surprisingly, all Ward 36 Councillor candidates have come out against the proposed development and have vowed to stop it. That said, it is in our collective interest to elect the candidate we feel is best able to deliver on this promise. The all-candidates meeting will help us all make that assessment.

It is also important that we continue to reinforce CCQLD's position that municipal politicians already have the tools to determine what happens on this site -- provided they see responsible development and community-building as top priorities for the next municipal government. (The recent Ontario Municipal Board decision does nothing to change this fact.) It's up to our community to hold all our elected officials accountable in this regard, and to make it known to the Conservatory Group once again that 1960s-era planning has no place in our community.

Space at Variety Village may be limited, so we encourage you to arrive early in order to ensure seating. CCQLD will have an information table on-site and will be accepting donations to help cover space rental and other costs. If anyone has access to a sound system and microphones that we could use for the evening, please let us know as this will help reduce our expenses.

We look forward to seeing you on Oct. 21.

Warmest regards,
Board of Directors, CCQLD

Friday, September 3, 2010

City to Assert Zoning Rights; Will Not Seek Leave to Appeal OMB Decision

Hi everyone,

Based on incorrect information provided to us, we reported earlier that the City would seek leave to appeal the OMB's recent decision. Apparently, this is not the case, as the City is unable to argue there was an error in law made in the OMB decision. The city will be writing to the OMB, we are told, to restate its ability under the Planning Act to initiate planning changes such as zoning. Please read below for a note from Councillor Brian Ashton.

Dear Residents:

Very recently I informed you that the City of Toronto was intending to seek Leave to Appeal the Decision of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in favour of the Rezoning Application for the GCD lands within the larger "Quarry Lands" precinct.
I was premature in stating that we would be proceeding by way of the Courts. My statement was based on an understanding flowing from a preliminary meeting with City Planning and Legal. I assumed that the legal opinion given originated from the City Solicitor and her Litigation Division. This was not the case.
This was my fault for not being absolutely sure of the Staff's position before informing the community.
Following further discussions and consultation with the City Solicitor, it was felt that seeking Leave to Appeal would in all likelihood fail and leave the City's long-term position exposed and vulnerable. It was agreed that the City would not proceed through the Courts but would write to the OMB asking it to clarify and rectify the wording in the Decision that suggests that City Council could not pass a new zoning bylaw following the conclusion of the Quarry Lands Study that might rezone lands including the lands owned by GCD.
It is an important to reinforce the City's position by advising the Board that under the Planning Act, municipalities, as well as individuals, can initiate planning changes such as a zoning, subject to proper notice and rights of appeal. And that the ability to do so is not fettered by the Board's Decision.
Strategically this would serve to give notice of the City's position and protect the integrity of City Planning's mandated responsibilities and authorities.
I hope this clarifies the City's actions and corrects my previous miscue.


Councillor Brian Ashton

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

City Seeks Leave to Appeal OMB Decision

Hi everyone,

We're pleased to report the City of Toronto is seeking leave to appeal the recent Ontario Municipal Board decision regarding the Quarry Lands to Divisional Court.

A Member of the Divisional Court will decide on the appeal request. If leave is granted, the appeal will be heard by a three member panel.

Stay tuned for further updates.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ontario Municipal Board Decision

The Ontario Municipal Board released its decision yesterday from the Quarry Lands hearing. (A copy will be posted here soon, and should be available shortly on the OMB website (, case number PL070317). A quick reading shows that, in general, the OMB has ruled in favour of the developer.

Before getting into the decision, a few points:

1) Regardless of which way the decision went, it was always our belief that the OMB hearing in February was one more step in a long-term process. The fact that the OMB has sided against the position of the community and the City will not dampen our determination to find a solution that results in reasonable and appropriate development on the Quarry Lands. We are as resolutely opposed to the developer's position as we have ever been, and will continue making our case that as a community and a City, we can and must do so much better than what has been proposed thus far.

2) All three levels of government have stated unequivocally their support for the CCQLD position on this issue. It is up to all of us to make our voices heard in order to ensure that our elected representatives are also working hard to ensure a positive outcome. We came together as a community with more than 1,000 people at our rally in April. If we need to do it again with even larger numbers in order to show our strength, we can do that too.

3) The CCQLD Board has met with mayoral candidate George Smitherman on this issue, and we will continue to meet with others as we move forward. We will also be meeting with candidates for Councillor of Ward 36 and seeking opportunities for broad community engagement through all-candidates meetings. Discussions continue between city staff and Build Toronto, which controls the second-largest parcel of land on the Quarry Lands site. This is all to say that while we haven’t been handed a favour by the OMB (and none was expected), this process still has a long way to go.

More on the decision:

As outlined in the document, Gerrard Clonmore Developments had been seeking approval for an amendment to a zoning bylaw that would allow for smaller unit sizes in two blocks of the proposed high-rise development; and approval for a site plan application on one of the buildings. The City of Toronto had not made a decision on either the bylaw amendment or site plan application, arguing such decisions would be premature. CCQLD agreed with the City's position and argued as such as a Participant before the Board.

The OMB has ruled in favour of the developer on the zoning amendment. On the site plan application, the Board agreed the City has some valid concerns and so did not grant approval; however, the Board stated clearly that it expects any changes to the site plan agreed to by both parties would be minor; if the parties cannot agree, the Board will hear submissions early in the 2011 and will make a decision at that time.

We will be in touch again soon with further thoughts and next steps.

CCQLD Board of Directors

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July update from CCQLD

Hi everyone,

We hope you're enjoying a relaxing summer.

It has been a while since our last update, so we wanted to take this
opportunity to keep you informed of a few recent developments.

As all of you know, the most significant development of late has been the
announcement by Ward 36 Councilor Brian Ashton that he will not be running
in the municipal election this fall. Brian has been an invaluable source
of knowledge, guidance and level-headed insight for CCQLD over the past
seven years, so we'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Brian
for his tireless work for the community and specifically relating to this
issue. For all your efforts, Brian, please accept our sincere thanks and
appreciation from the entire CCQLD membership and broader Birchcliff

We are pleased to report that Brian has told us this issue is personally
important to him and will continue to be so after the election; he will
continue to be a supporter of CCQLD, our objectives and our community's
determination to ensure responsible development of the Quarry Lands site.

Looking ahead, we are starting to reach out to the declared candidates
running to succeed Brian in Ward 36. We will be making all candidates
aware of the importance of the Quarry Lands issue to the Birchcliff
community and beyond. We are continuing as well in behind-the-scenes
efforts to ensure this issue is on the radar for Toronto's mayoral
candidates. Thanks to all the CCQLD members who have written with their
comments and reported back with thoughts from several of the candidates.

A few other matters: For those of you who have put your name on the list
for ordering signs, we need 100 people committed to purchasing signs at
$10 each before we can place an order. So far we have 29 requests. If
you'd like a sign, please send an email to Karen Direkze at We will collect the $10 after we have enough
requests to make the order. Also, we're making a final door-to-door
petition push so we can present our signatures at the final council
meeting in August before the election, so if you haven't yet signed,
hopefully you'll have an opportunity soon. Thanks to all the volunteers
spearheading this effort.

On the Ontario Municipal Board front, we still have no indication when the
Ontario Municipal Board will be announcing its decision from the OMB
hearing in February. It has taken far longer than anyone expected, but
we're not reading anything into the delay and there has been no change in
the status of the Quarry Lands since that time. We'll make sure to let
everyone know as soon as we hear of any developments.

CCQLD will have a booth at Scarborough Southwest MP Michelle Simson's Community BBQ, Saturday August 7th between 12 noon and 2:00 pm at Variety Village parking area (3701Danforth Avenue). Thanks to Michelle for allowing us to be there. It's another opportunity to sign the petition or order lawn signs, so we hope to see you there.

That's it for now. Enjoy the rest of the summer and as always, thanks for
your ongoing support.

Best regards,
Board of Directors, Concerned Citizens of Quarry

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mayoral candidate Thomson speaks out against towers on Quarry Lands

CCQLD applauds Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson for taking a strong stand in favour of responsible development and against the proposed high rise tower complex on the Quarry Lands.

"I am against the development of high rise towers on the Quarry lands," Thomson said. "This project as it creates high rise development and densities without mid and low rise buffer areas surrounding it. Transition between high rise development and single family homes is extremely important to the development of a vibrant community. Toronto must focus and encourage high rise development along transit lines first and foremost.

"This development will place much more stress on existing transit lines as well.
It is not the appropriate development for this neighbourhood and should not be supported."

Candidate Rob Ford, in response to an email from CCQLD, said that in matters such as this one he will take the position of local residents, which can only mean he is against the proposal as well.

So attention Joe Pantalone, Rocco Rossi, George Smitherman and other candidates: We need to hear where you stand on this issue! It is time for all aspiring leaders to stand up and be counted.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Open Letter to Mayor Miller and Toronto City Councillors

The CCQLD Board of Directors sent the following letter to Mayor Miller and all Toronto City Councillors on May 17.

Mayor Miller and Toronto City Councillors,

On April 25, 2010, more than 1,000 residents in the community of Birchcliff in southwest Scarborough came out to an open field on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon, to save their community.

The core issues at stake -- how we go about building our city, and the ascendancy of private developers’ interests over the democratic voice of residents, if we collectively allow it to happen -- is a matter of extreme importance to all Torontonians. What's happening in our neighbourhood could happen anywhere in this city. And so, in the interest of all Toronto residents, we are asking for your immediate attention to this issue and your support.

A private developer, the Conservatory Group, has zoning rights to build a high rise complex of seven towers between 23 and 27 stories on a portion of property known as the Quarry Lands brownfield, east of Victoria Park and north of Gerrard Street. Single family homes are found to the west, south and east of the Quarry Lands; a railway line sits to the north. The Conservatory Group's zoning rights date from 1968, when the land was owned by the city and it was envisioned the Scarborough expressway would run through the site. The expressway was wisely scrapped, but the City neglected to change the zoning before selling a portion of the property to private developers.

The Conservatory Group's plans are unanimously opposed by area residents and local representatives from all three levels of government. Councillors Brian Ashton, Sandra Bussin and Michael Thompson, Member of Provincial Parliament Lorenzo Berardinetti and Member of Parliament Michelle Simson all attended and spoke at the April 25 rally, commending residents on their vision for a better city. Environmentalists are similarly opposed to The Conservatory Group's plans; a unique and thriving wetland now occupies a large portion of the land where the towers would be erected. City planners have said the zoning is antiquated, inappropriate and would result in a fragmented development that serves no one's best interests -- including those of the city, which owns the second largest piece of property on the Quarry Lands (land now assigned to Build Toronto). A hearing was held in February at the Ontario Municipal Board over a site plan and minor variance application, with the decision pending.

Regardless of the OMB verdict, we can all agree that allowing archaic 40-year-old zoning to run roughshod over overwhelming opposition from the community, local leaders and urban planners is no way to build a world-class city. Residents and the incorporated community group Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development understand and agree with the need to develop areas of land such as this one, but it has to be development that makes sense in 2010, not 1968 -- to say nothing of the impact on schools, social services, policing, traffic, the environment and the surrounding community.

As a city and a community, we can and must do so much better. We believe the City has an opportunity -- and indeed an obligation -- to make things right. Please take a stand and speak out in favour of responsible development. Should the matter come before council, we look forward to your support.

With warmest regards,
Board of Directors, Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development

Mark Brender
Wilf Longley
Karen Direkze
Reg James
Sneva Lee
Mark Nahorniak
Joanne Smith

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Quarry rally video

Thanks to Owen for shooting video and putting this together...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quarry Rally Rocks!

The verdict is in: The Quarry Rally rocked!

More than 1,000 Birchcliff residents came out April 25 in support of responsible development on the Quarry Lands. There are so many people who did incredible work and need to be thanked -- event organizers, everyone who delivered flyers and signs, the set-up crew, media outreach -- and of course our elected politicians who came out and took a stand for community building and against the Conservatory Group's high rise plans.

We are proud to say that representatives for all three levels of government were present and spoke to a supportive crowd: Thank you to Toronto Councillors Brian Ashton (Scarborough Southwest), Sandra Bussin (Beaches - East York) and Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), MPP Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest) and MP Michelle Simson (Scarborough Southwest). Their message was unanimous: this is a development with zoning from 1968 whose time is long gone, and it's up to political leaders to make it right.

And thanks most of all to everyone in the community who came out on a cold Sunday afternoon to show how much they care about the community. This is just the beginning...but what a start it is.

For some of the media coverage from the event, check out:

We'll be back in touch soon with more updates and post-rally information -- including plans to get more signs!

Board of Directors,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Local politicians back residents in fight for responsible development

Hundreds expected at rally to prevent urban planning nightmare

April 22, 2010 (TORONTO): --- Local politicians will be lining up behind a citizens group this Sunday in a fight that pits healthy community building against outdated zoning and a proposed 1960s-era high rise tower complex … on a contaminated municipal dumpsite in the heart of a model residential neighbourhood.

Toronto City Councillors Brian Ashton (Scarborough Southwest) and Sandra Bussin (Beaches -East York) and Member of Parliament Michelle Simson (Scarborough Southwest) will be among those speaking at a rally Sunday April 25th at 2pm at the undeveloped Quarry Lands in Toronto’s east end (Gerrard Street east of Victoria Park). They will join hundreds of area residents in opposing a proposed seven-tower high rise complex based on zoning from 1968. The residents are seeking development more in line with the surrounding community based on 21st century planning principles, and leadership from Toronto’s city council to make it happen.

The full 49-acre Quarry Lands site in Birchcliff represents a rare opportunity for the best kind of city-building: a visionary, green, mixed-use brownfield redevelopment in the heart of a thriving community. Instead, Toronto residents could be left with an eyesore that nobody wants and a density roughly seven times greater than the surrounding community.

The views of Birchcliff residents opposed to the high rise development – with between 23 and 27 storeys per tower – are shared by city planners, who have been vocal in their view that Toronto can do much better than 1960s zoning on this site.

“This isn’t a NIMBY issue, it’s bad planning,” said Mark Brender of Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development (CCQLD), the community group organizing the rally. “As a community and a city, we simply cannot allow this kind of development to happen. If 40-year-old zoning trumps modern planning and progressive thinking about what works for communities, we’re throwing up the white flag in our collective ability to build a world-class city.”

The planned 1,455-unit development on 18 acres owned privately by the Conservatory Group is permitted under high-density zoning rights dating back to 1968, when the city planned to bulldoze parts of the east end of the city for the Scarborough Expressway. The highway was later scrapped but the land zoning was never changed by the city.

To make matters worse, the land was an unregulated municipal landfill from 1954 - 1960 and was then sold by the city to private developers. The City still owns lands adjacent to the proposed apartment tower complex, portions of which are so contaminated they are economically unremediable for development.

“The City had responsibility for this land in the past, and so it has responsibility today to make things right,” Brender said. “This will be a litmus test for the willingness of Mayor David Miller, the mayoralty candidates and council at large to show leadership in building healthy communities for all Toronto residents.”


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Toronto Star article on April 25 rally

Below is a copy of an article on our April 25 rally that appeared in the April 9 edition of the Toronto Star.

A few points:

The article reinforces what CCQLD has been saying all along: Our community is against the proposed development, our local representatives are against the proposed development, and the city planning department -- the people who have a responsibility to advocate for development of pieces of land just like this one -- is against the proposed development. How telling is that? Not even the planners with a mandate to build up the urban core can stomach this one.

We're hearing more and more every day from officials at the city, from politicians, from media and from people both inside and outside our community. In other words, we're getting noticed. We need to keep building momentum and to continue spreading the word.

If there was ever any doubt about the importance of this rally, the lawyer for the Conservatory Group is quoted as saying the developer wants to proceed "as quickly as possible" with the first building, and that the overall development is -- wait for it, it's a beauty -- "compatible with the neighbourhood." If you believe otherwise, the best way to show it is by forwarding this email to everyone in your address book and telling them why they absolutely need to be at the Quarry Lands at 2pm on April 25.

This city is not powerless to stop this development, and neither are we.

Quarry site condo plan too dense, residents say
Developer is proposing series of highrise towers
Donovan Vincent Staff Reporter

A community group in east Toronto is up in arms over a developer's plan to build a cluster of highrise condos next to a community of single-family homes.

The property, a long-vacant, 20-hectare parcel at Victoria Park Ave. and Gerrard St., known as the Quarry Lands, is where Sheldon (Shelly) Libfeld's Conservatory Group wants to construct four buildings – three of them featuring two towers each, of roughly 25 storeys. Local residents say his towers aren't compatible with the neighbourhood of single-family homes just to the south.

"We understand the need for urban intensification and understand this is a huge parcel of land in the heart of the city. Something special (could be) done with this land, but this proposal is not special, not visionary,'' says Mark Brender, president of Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development.

For now, Libfeld wants to proceed "as quickly as possible'' with the first building, pending the outcome of an appeal before the Ontario Municipal Board, says his lawyer. The 370-unit building would be on 7.5 hectares the developer owns at the eastern side of the Quarry Lands.

A former president of the Greater Toronto Homebuilders' Association, Libfeld is a heavy hitter in the development industry.

Brender's group plans an April 25 rally on a city-owned part of the Quarry Lands and is petitioning Toronto politicians to take "immediate steps'' to keep the proposal from going forward.

"There are certainly examples of terrific eight-storey developments. Here they could be up to (27) storeys. You're putting in a density that's seven times greater than anything in the surrounding community,'' Brender said.

The rub is that the number of units planned – 1,455 – is permitted under zoning that dates back to 1968, so the developer has virtually unfettered freedom to build.

But city hall planners aren't happy with the proposed densities and heights, saying the zoning permissions are "outdated.''

"I think there's only room for improvement from what was approved back in the 1960s," says Allen Appleby, a director with the planning department.

He wants a review of the entire Quarry Lands property to determine what would work best.

But John Alati, a lawyer for Libfeld's company, says the buildings will fit in. "We think it's compatible with the neighbourhood. You don't have to look the same or be the same to be compatible,'' he said, adding that compatibility can be achieved with elements such as buffers or setbacks between existing and new development.

Local Councillor Brian Ashton has talked with the developer to see if a compromise can be worked out. The city owns property in the western section of the Quarry Lands.

One idea being floated is to spread the new buildings around the site, with higher towers closer to busy Victoria Park. The planning department supports the idea.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

CCQLD Release - Hundreds rally to oppose urban planning nightmare

City leaders must ensure responsible development on former toxic dump with 1960's zoning

April 8, 2010 (TORONTO): --- Question: What do you get when you combine truckloads of toxic waste with archaic 42-year-old zoning? Answer: A seven-tower high rise complex on a former dump site in the middle of a predominantly single family-home residential neighbourhood.

Except this is real-life Toronto in 2010, and nobody is laughing.

Hundreds of people will be rallying Sunday April 25th at 2pm at the Quarry Lands in Toronto’s east end (Gerrard Street east of Victoria Park) to demand accountability from political leaders and an end to the madness. The residents are seeking development more in line with the surrounding community based on 21st century planning principles.

The full 49-acre Quarry Lands site in Birchcliff represents a rare opportunity for the best kind of city-building: a visionary, green, mixed-use brownfield redevelopment in the heart of a thriving community. Instead, Toronto residents could be left with an eyesore that nobody wants and a density roughly seven times greater than the surrounding community.

Birchcliff residents opposed to the high rise development – with between 23 and 27 storeys per tower -- have the support of local city councillors, city planning staff and environmental groups including the Toronto District Conservation Authority.

“This isn’t a NIMBY issue, it’s bad planning,” said Mark Brender of Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development (CCQLD), the community group organizing the rally. “As a community and a city, we simply cannot allow this kind of development to happen. If 40-year-old zoning trumps modern planning and progressive thinking about what works for communities, we’re throwing up the white flag in our collective ability to build a world-class city.”

The planned 1,455-unit development on 18 acres owned privately by the Conservatory Group is permitted under high-density zoning rights dating back to1968, when the city planned to bulldoze parts of the east end of the city for the Scarborough Expressway. The highway was later scrapped but the land zoning was never changed by the city.

To make matters worse, the land was an unregulated municipal landfill from 1954 - 1960 and was then sold by the city to private developers. The City still owns lands adjacent to the proposed apartment tower complex, portions of which are so contaminated they are economically unremediable for development.

“The City had responsibility for this land in the past, and so it has responsibility today to make things right,” Brender said. “This will be a litmus test for the willingness of Mayor David Miller, the mayoralty candidates and council at large to show leadership in building healthy communities for all Toronto residents.”


Mark Brender:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Quarry Rally - Sunday April 25, 2pm

Hi everyone,

On Sunday April 25 at 2pm, it’s time to make a very public stand for the future of the Quarry Lands.

The Rally for the Quarry 2010 will take place in the open parkland on the north side of Gerrard Street, halfway between Victoria Park and the Quarry plaza, just to the east of the Olco service station. We envision hundreds and hundreds of people – parents, grandparents, children, families from our community -- rising together to say that seven high-rise towers in the heart of Birchcliff is a development outcome that we are unprepared to stand by and let happen. As a city and a community, we can and must do so much better.

We will let the private developer, Conservatory Group, know that on April 25.

Allowing archaic 40-year-old zoning to run roughshod over unanimous opposition from the community, local leaders and urban planners is no way to build a world-class city. City negligence led to the situation we have today. It was the City that allowed this land to become contaminated, it was the City that sold portions of the Quarry land to private interests, and it was the City that was asleep at the wheel for decades while the planning context changed. Now it’s up to the City to make things right.

We will let the City know that on April 25.

The media will be there. Local politicians will be there. We will have speakers and information tables. We will be circulating a petition demanding that Toronto’s political leaders take immediate action to prevent a high-density, high-rise development concept ever being implemented on these lands. We will be demanding that Build Toronto (which owns a parcel of land on the Quarry) live up to a promise it made to our community more than two years ago: that any development involving Build Toronto on this land will result in something special and visionary – something of which we can all be proud.

For seven years, Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development has been working to build consensus around a better vision for these lands than the tower complex proposed by the Conservatory Group (also known as Gerrard Clonmore Developments). We have done lots of talking and even more listening. We have never shouted….until now.

We will shout on April 25.

Outreach is underway to media, political leaders, and most importantly to the community to let everyone know how important it is that they come out and be counted. The greater the turnout, the more attention we will receive from media and the stronger our case becomes. The most important thing we need to do now is reach every street and every house with our message. Please forward this message to everyone in your address book who lives in Birchcliff or The Beach. If you can help with delivery of flyers on your street or area, please send your name and phone number via email as soon as possible to Wilf and Sybil Longley at Someone will be back in touch with you shortly.

A final note: The land on which the rally will be held is owned by the City of Toronto. We have written confirmation from city officials that we are allowed to have the rally on this site.

Thank you to everyone doing fantastic work planning for this event. This is just the beginning. See you on April 25th.


Board of Directors
Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

OMB Update and AIMS Environmental Report

Hi everyone,

There has been no decision yet from the Ontario Municipal Board hearing last week, and we're not expecting to hear anything for another few weeks at least. There is nothing unusual about this time frame and we aren't reading anything into it one way or another. A note to the community from Councilor Brian Ashton outlining the city's participation appears below.

In other news, we have received the long-awaited environmental report from consulting firm AiMS Environmental. We originally commissioned the report in the fall of 2008 in order to get an independent assessment of the City's environmental testing on its own lands (via a DCS report from September 2007); and an expert appraisal of materials obtained through a Freedom of Information search of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

In general, the AiMS review does not highlight any significant new environmental information. It does, however, provide a number of recommendations for ensuring that the environmental sensitivity of the site is fully taken into account in any development proposals; and for maximizing public consultation and input throughout the process. These can be found on pages 13 -16 of the report. As a whole, the report is a strong resource and a wealth of environmental information. The full report can be downloaded here (10.8MB, PDF).



Dear Residents:

Following is an informal and condensed overview of the Ontario Municipal Board Hearing regarding GCD's rezoning appeal before the Ontario Municipal Board commencing on February 16, 2010:

"The OMB hearing on this Gerrard/Clonmore site concluded on Friday with final submissions by legal counsel. The decision on these appeals is now reserved and the member, Mr. Chris Conti, advised that he expected to get a written decision out in 4-5 weeks.

This was a complex hearing with many issues, including the historic uses put to the Quarry lands over the decades. On Thursday, we called two witnesses from the TRCA to support our argument about a wetland being disturbed by the first building proposed for Block 2 near Gerrard Street. The other side, of course, argued that the existing marsh arises from a completely man-made situation of a formerly excavated quarry site now filling up and supporting some sporadic growth. On the main issue of land-use, we submitted that the rezoning should be turned down, or should be seen as premature, pending the completion of the Quarry Lands study which has been halted in Phase 2.

It is possible that the Board could approve the request to change the zoning bylaw, but not approve the site plan.

The participants were accommodated and gave their testimony in a late afternoon session. Their points were clear, varied, and not repetitive, and I believe the Board got a good sense of the neighbourhood perspective on these planning appeals.

This was one of our more difficult hearings and it will be very interesting to review the OMB Decision when it issues."

Your continued individual and community support is greatly appreciated.

Councillor Brian Ashton

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CCQLD Statement at Ontario Municipal Board

Hi everyone,

Below is the statement CCQLD made at the Ontario Municipal Board hearing this afternoon. The Board is considering Gerrard Clonmore Developments' site plan application on one of its proposed high-rise tower blocks, as well a rezoning application for smaller unit sizes on a select number of units. The City is opposing the application and CCQLD is one of three groups granted participant status by the Board.

The hearing is likely to last until mid-to-late next week. We won't know until the end of hearing if the Board decision will be given out at that time or after a longer period of deliberation. Either way, after the OMB hearing is complete, as a community we will need to regroup and plan our next steps.

An update on the independent environmental report CCQLD has commissioned from AiMS Consulting: We have seen a first draft and have replied with some questions and requests for elaboration in some places. We expect to have the final report within the next two weeks and will share it at that time.

CCQLD Participant Presentation to Ontario Municipal Board, re. Quarry Lands
Feb. 17, 2010

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

We appreciate the opportunity to be here today. Very quickly, I’d like to provide the board with some brief background about our organization before outlining several reasons why we oppose this application.

Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development was formed in 2003, after hundreds of area residents turned out to a public meeting in response to GCD’s minor variance application to the Scarborough Committee of Adjustment. CCQLD was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2005, focused exclusively on this issue. We hold yearly Annual General Meetings, with our Board of Directors elected by our membership. Membership is $10 per year and is open to anyone, with voting restricted to members living in the area. We currently have approximately 180 members from the community. Our board of directors meets regularly, and our board and other members have organized, taken part and attended countless initiatives over the past six years, including brownfield conferences, community meetings, design charettes, city meetings, previous OMB hearings, and most recently the Special Committee meetings that arose out of the standstill agreement from November 2008.

Our objectives as outlined in our constitution are to “represent the interests of the residents of the general area defined by, but not limited to, Main Street to the west, Birchmount Rd on the east, from Lake Ontario to the south to Danforth Ave. on the north, in their desire to see an appropriate use of the lands known as The Quarry Lands.”

Our constitution states that CCQLD starts with the premise that the land use proposed by one owner/developer, GCD, “does not represent the best use of the lands.” It goes on to say that CCQLD “will make reasonable efforts to determine and advocate for the best use of the lands. It is not a prescribed goal of the Association to develop such a plan; however, it accepts that should it occur that it would be of significant benefit.”

We say this to make the point that this is not NIMBY-ism at play. Far from it. We understand the need and rationale for urban intensification, and we agree with it. Many people in our community -- in fact probably the majority of people seven years ago when our group was formed -- wanted the quarry lands to stay as is or be used as a park. CCQLD recognized long ago this is not a realistic nor even necessarily desirable outcome. Instead, we choose to see this land as an opportunity to do something special, and we believe we have helped move the community a long way over the past six years to a stage where the public discussion now focuses around a number of visions of what we want or are prepared to see happen there.

In order to manage expectations, we have repeatedly stated to our members and the community that whatever takes place on the quarry lands, it won’t necessarily be a mirror of the overwhelmingly single family homes that surround this property and make up the surrounding area. We have also repeatedly stated that the eventual development must be responsible development. It must be something that enhances our community, and provides an outcome of which all parties can all be proud.

With respect, the application before you envisions a development that meets none of these criteria.

We are opposing this application for several reasons:

First, as you know, the City of Toronto had been engaged in a Birchcliff Quarry Lands Area Study over the full 49-acre Quarry lands site prior to the Special Committee meetings. But the Quarry Lands study has been an extremely valuable and helpful process for area residents, and I would guess city planners and perhaps even GCD itself. The debates and discussions were at a high level because of the knowledge that has been transferred, the information sharing, and the exchange of positions and ideas. This is the right way to go about building a city. CCQLD commends city planning staff, the community, our city councilor and everyone involved for their commitment to a process that is not easy, but one that is absolutely necessary. And it needs an opportunity to be finished in order for a comprehensive plan to be developed. We cannot create healthy communities and healthy neighbourhoods – green, pedestrian-friendly, livable, with appropriate services and facilities – in isolation.

Secondly, we are opposing this application because the outcome it would help facilitate is fundamentally at odds with good planning and city building in the 21st century. As you know, the zoning on this property is from 1968 and was framed in the backdrop of a planned Scarborough expressway. We cannot overstate how much the planning context has changed since then. This land would never be zoned for high density towers today, for countless well-thought out reasons, many of which are expressed in the Toronto City Plan. By approving this application for smaller unit sizes, ostensibly to reflect current market conditions, the OMB would be making this high density, high rise development more economical and easier to build, and thereby enabling and indeed reinforcing the worst of 1960s planning in the modern, forward-thinking, progressive city of Toronto in 2009.

The proposed development contemplates 1,455 units over roughly 18 acres – an area that only covers roughly two-fifths of the quarry site. Yet the proposed development on these 18 acres would result in a density more than seven times greater than the surrounding community. This is not responsible development by anyone’s standard, and it is not a development the OMB should be party to enabling.

And third, we wish to highlight what is actually happening here: the applicant is attempting to move ahead with a development that is soundly opposed by the City and by neighbourhood residents, and they are attempting to make it more economically viable by appealing to current market conditions and current practices as a justification for rezoning. Yet on the other hand, they are holding fast to outdated high density zoning from the 1960s that would never be granted today. We submit that this violates the principle of fairness. The corollary would be that the 1968 zoning can also be changed based on current planning standards and best practices, in which case a development such as this, in our opinion would not be considered on this land.

Similarly, we do not believe the argument that this development has already been ‘approved’ by the city whether it be 20 years ago or 40 years ago is germane to the matter before you. Logically this would be the same as saying that a development from 100 years ago was approved at that time, and so now we must move ahead. Things have changed drastically since the 1960s, and we know the proposed development is not at all consistent with good city-building or community building.

This is a community that is extremely concerned about the proposed development, not development per se. On behalf of our membership and the surrounding community, we strongly urge you to side with responsible development and deny this application.

Thank you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

OMB Hearing To Go Ahead

Hi everyone,

We received some surprising and slightly discouraging news this past week.

Build Toronto, the economic development corporation that has been assigned responsibility for the approximately 17 acres of city land on the Quarry site, now says that a significant portion of its land is environmentally unsuitable for any development. The remediation cost of removing and replacing contaminated and unstable soil, we were told at a meeting on Feb. 10, makes development on this parcel economically unfeasible. Despite CCQLD and the community being assured several years ago by the city that all its land was environmentally sound and easily developable, Build Toronto says it came to its recent conclusion through more detailed geotechnical surveys of city-owned land.

This information fundamentally changes the nature of discussions we have been having with city planners, the developer GCD (Gerrard Clonmore Developments), Build Toronto and others through the ‘Special Committee’ meeting process since January of 2009. As many of you are aware, and as Councillor Brian Ashton outlined at the CCQLD Annual General Meeting last month, the discussions had revolved around finding a development concept over the full 49-acre quarry site that would be suitable to all parties – one that would be a significant improvement over the four-block, 1,455-unit high-rise tower complex for which GCD currently has zoning on its land. This was to be done by essentially spreading density over the full site in a comprehensive design plan. With roughly 40 per cent of city-owned land now effectively off the table, however, this has become a much more difficult proposition.

In the short term, this means that the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing scheduled for Tuesday of this week is going ahead. Matters under consideration are a GCD rezoning appeal for removing minimum unit sizes for some of its proposed units, and a filed site plan application for one of its four tower blocks. The city will be arguing against GCD’s appeal. The CCQLD is one of three community groups (also including Our Community Speaks and East Beach Community Association) that will have an opportunity to speak in opposition to GCD’s application via participant status.

Following the OMB hearing, regardless of which way the decision goes, we will continue to explore all possible avenues to reach an outcome acceptable to our community. It will also be time to mobilize all our resources together make sure our position is heard loudly and clearly at the municipal and provincial levels. More on this in the days to come…

We’ll be in touch again after the OMB hearing. Thanks as always for your support.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Brian Ashton's Presentation

Scarborough Southwest city councillor, Brian Ashton's slideshow presentation on the quarry lands, given at the 2010 annual general meeting, January 20, 2010:

View it here!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Annual General Meeting Recap

Hi everyone,

We had a terrific turnout at CCQLD's 2010 Annual General Meeting on Jan. 20. Thanks to everyone who came out, and a big thanks to Birchcliff Bluffs United Church for allowing us to use their space.

The main order of business was to elect the Board of Directors for this year. Members elected to the board were: Mark Brender, Karen Direkze, Reg James, Sneva Lee, Wilf Longley, Mark Nahorniak, Joanne Smith.

We also updated the membership on a pending environmental report that we have commissioned from AIMS Consulting. The report will i) give an independent evaluation of a study done by the city on the environmental condition of city-owned lands on the Quarry site; and ii) review historical environmental documents obtained by CCQLD through an Access to Information request of the Ministry of the Environment relating to the environmental condition on privately held land on the Quarry site. We should have the AIMS report within six to eight weeks.

Following AGM business, Councilor Brian Ashton gave a terrific powerpoint presentation with some historical background followed by his take on where things stand today. We'll post the presentation here soon. Thanks again to Brian for his ongoing advocacy and involvement.

On the Ontario Municipal Board front, there is a hearing scheduled for Feb. 16 regarding GCD's rezoning application to reduce minimum unit size requirements. It is likely there will be a meeting of the Special Committee before then. As always, we'll keep you posted.

If you haven't renewed your membership for 2010, please do so by sending a $10 cheque made out to 'Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development' to 63 Woodland Park Road, Scarborough, ON, M1N 2X5. If you haven't been a member before, please consider joining our organization and making your voice heard. The more members we have, the greater our credibility before the OMB, City Council and in ongoing conversations with all parties. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Thanks as well to Webmaster Heidi for the great new website blog format. Please make use of it to post comments, questions, feedback, etc.

Speak to you soon,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Welcome to the new format!

Happy new year, everyone. CCQLD webmaster here.

Changing things up for 2010, switching to a blog format for the site. This will allow for much easier and quicker updates. the original site can still be accessed here, but will no longer be updated. Please visit the original site for photos, maps, and other resources related to The Quarry.

Thanks for your continued interest and support. See you at The Quarry.

2010 Annual General Meeting

Hi everyone,

Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development will hold its 2010 Annual General Meeting on Wed. Jan. 20 at Birchcliff Bluffs United Church, 33 East Road (Warden and Kingston Rd.), starting at 7:30.

As you know, a great deal has happened regarding the Quarry lands site over the past year. Beginning last January, members of the CCQLD executive took part in information sharing sessions with the City, Gerrard Clonmore Developments and Build Toronto, for the purpose of exploring alternative visions for the Quarry lands site. These discussions have been extremely beneficial in allowing us to express the reasons behind community opposition to GCD's proposed development. The information sharing has also helped us gain an even deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with potential development on different areas of the entire 49-acre Quarry lands site.  We expect 2010 to be similarly eventful on a number of fronts, including a scheduled Ontario Municipal Board hearing in February and the potential for more multi-party discussions.

Our Annual General Meeting is a key opportunity for the CCQLD board to provide an update on our activities and take feedback and direction from the membership. It's also a time for membership renewals, for new members to join our organization, and for the annual election of the Board of Directors.

Councilor Brian Ashton will be at the meeting to provide his thoughts and answer questions. Brian has been deeply involved in this issue over the past seven years and has been a strong advocate for our community's interests.

Please feel free to pass this on to neighbours, and we look forward to seeing everyone on Jan. 20.  All the best for a safe and happy New Year.

Mark Brender
President, CCQLD