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Monday, November 23, 2015

Final Stages of Planning?

Dear CCQLD Members.
As you are aware, there was a meeting of Scarborough Community Council two months ago at which the Build Toronto Plan for the Quarry Lands was approved.  This plan is consistent with the meetings and discussions we have had with you over the past 18 months and there were no surprises.
On the eastern portion of the land however, nothing has changed.  GCD has OMB approval to build towers,  and perhaps especially disconcerting was a comment from a representative of GCD at that meeting. “We are in the Final Stages of Planning”. Does this mean that they will be applying for a building permit soon? Or is this just another dropped glove in the decades-old gamesmanship that has characterized the development process of the eastern Quarry Lands. GCD is keeping that answer to itself, but this is a timely reminder for CCQLD and the community that this threat remains real and present. Complacency may be our second biggest enemy in this fight. Stay tuned, stay involved and for our part, we promise to keep you informed.
Below, is a summary of that meeting and minutes of some of the discussion that took place.
Tim Weber
President CCQLD
Scarborough Community Council Item SC8.25 (Sept 8, 2015)
411 Victoria Park Ave.
Highlights of Council mting re above. 
William Bryck, Pres and CEO of Build Toronto, presented a plan that includes:
-         300 units - a mix of stacked townhouses and apartment units.
-         100,000 sq ft of commercial space
-         $1.2 million in annual property tax
-         Walking and bike paths, new streets, community park
Mr. Bryck talked about the amount of consultation with city, community, CCQLD....etc.  He felt this proposal meets with community approval.
Q: from Councillor: What about the issues around methane gas and other toxins? Has the city got a plan if any of the new home owners sue because of problems due to toxic waste?
A: No, but most of the problem is on GCD land.
Q: from Council: Will the extension of any streets cause issues for existing residents.
A: No
Q: from Council: The shape of the park is very narrow.  Could you move a block of units (Block 10) to another area to widen the top of the park?
A: Mr. Bryck went into the existing infrastructure problem and how the proposed layout is the best way to build on the property.
Next to speak:  A member of the community had a petition signed by some 560 residents. The gist of the petition was that we are losing valuable park land to yet another box store......local kids, families and dog owners use the park.  She understands some housing will go up but wants to keep more park.  She added that there is concerned about the stand of red oaks along the railway tracks.
Next to speak: Rod Hines, from Build, discussed all the consultation that Build went through...all the work that has gone into the plan....  Another member of his team addressed the question from council regarding the mix of housing. Of the 300 units, 30 are dedicated to Habitat for Humanity.  Of those 30, approx 6 would be 1-bedroom apts, 24 stacked townhouses of 2 or 3 bedrooms.  All would be priced to be affordable. A councillor asked what was considered affordable. Answer was $180 K for a 1-bd, $220K for 2-bd and $240 K for 3-bd. Rod said these prices would be above what is defined as affordable in other parts of the city.
Next to speak:  A representative from Davies Howe Partners (Law firm acting for GCD) speaking for John Alati.  GCD has the following concerns regarding the Build proposal.
1)    The current plan does not provide for appropriate buffering between the townhouse blocks located on the eastern portion of Build Toronto’s land and GCD’s 24-storey apartments adjacent to those blocks. He said the apartments will cast afternoon shadows on the proposed townhouses so for that and other reasons the town houses should be moved.
2)    The approved towers were planned so as to benefit from the land zoned as park next to the towers. He said GCD does not support moving the park to the currently proposed central location.
3)    Concerns that future signalized intersections at streets coming from the Build property will cause transportation conflicts because these traffic signals will be too close to the entrance to the towers.
The representative also stated that GCD is in the final stages of the planning process. He did not elaborate.
Q:  from Councillor Crawford: It`s kind of your client (GCD) to think of the shadow cast by their apartments. But has your client considered a lower building so as not to cast a shadow?
A:  Rep from Davies Howe: I can only speak for my client on the information I have.
Q: from Councillor Crawford: Would GCD would be willing to sit down with the City and the community to come up with a plan that is more in keeping with the present neighborhood?
A: Rep:  No response.
Councillor Crawford:   Thank you. That`s all
Q: from Councillor Crawford to Rod Hines:  Would you be willing to open a dialogue with GCD? 
A: Yes.
Final comments: Crawford praised Build and CCQLD, who have members attending today, for all their good work. Councillor De Baeremaeker stated he had come into the meeting with the intention of voting against Build`s proposal, but after Build`s presentation has changed his vote to support it.
Final vote by council:  plan approved unanimously.