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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will be lining up behind a citizens group this Sunday in a fight that pits healthy community building against outdated zoning and a proposed 1960s-era high rise tower complex … on a contaminated municipal dumpsite in the heart of a model residential neighbourhood.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.”


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2 comments:

Xoie said...

What happens to all the animals living in the quarry? I spend hours walking in there with my dog and we have come across such a diverse range of species. Personally I have seen rabbits, garter snakes, falcons, kestrels, foxes, beavers (well he was a "late" beaver) and variety of wetland birds. I have even found deer bones. Has any research been done about the environmental ecology of the quarry? Can that also or has it been used to fight the development?

Mark B said...

Thanks Xoie. The environmental concerns and the wildlife are a major consideration. The proposed development would actually move the wetland and that is a concern as well, and the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority is playing close attention. This is all part of the environmental and ecological sensitivity of the site that we can try to leverage to fight the towers and minimize the impact of whatever development may take place.