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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: