If the cold kept you away

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Open house participants locating their home in relation to Dufferin Mall on an aerial photograph of our community. Most participants were located within walking distance of mall.

 

Over one hundred of our neighbours braved the lowest temperatures of the winter to attend an open house on the redevelopment of Dufferin Mall.

Primaris Management held the meeting in Bloor Collegiate on Monday, 21 January, to give our community the first look at preliminary plans to redevelop two parking lots on the north side of the mall property, adjacent to Croatia and Dufferin Streets. Primaris, which owns Dufferin Mall, proposes four apartment towers rising between 11 and 39 stories plus retail space on the 4.5-acre site.

The meeting was informal. A series of posters detailing the history of the mall site and the apartment tower proposal lined the school’s cafeteria. Primaris VP of development Matthew Kingston circulated, talking to community members and explaining the plans. The public was encouraged to post short comments.

By the end of the evening we noticed a lot of post-it comments about the neighbourhood’s need for affordable housing and the need for more green space, especially in light of the thousands of new residents who will live in the many new developments proposed for the area. Many community members also articulated concerns about how the Dufferin bus and subway station are already at capacity, as well as worries about access to local public schools, many of which are also at capacity. What impact will so many new residents have on the TTC? Where will new residents go to school?

There will be a second open house in the spring for further input. Primaris plans to file a formal development proposal with the City in the spring or summer.

Eric Turcotte, a partner in Urban Strategies and a member of the development team, said retail space built as part of the project will add between 40,000 and 60,000 sq. ft. (For comparison, Dufferin Mall has 550,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space.)

Turcotte said Urban Strategies and the development team have been meeting since late fall on the development process. Urban Strategies and Quadrangle Architects are highly regarded Toronto companies.

City Councillor Ana Bailão was also in attendance and made some brief comments. The councillor emphasized the enormous development pressures in our ward and commended local residents for our efforts to ensure that these developments build a healthy and inclusive community. She discussed the need for investments in city infrastructure, like the TTC, and the community’s needs for affordable housing and community services. Her remarks were met with applause.

Throughout the evening, members of Build a Better Bloor Dufferin spoke with community members and greeted people at a table in the foyer of the school. Almost all attendees stopped to talk and express their concerns about the scale of development at Bloor/Dufferin and the need for good planning. Many were dismayed to learn that the proposal for the site will include rental housing only in the absence of rent control. Our community needs more than luxury rentals and condos.

We also met a number of new neighbours last night who are keen to volunteer and get involved. We always welcome new members! Please do continue to get in touch with your thoughts, concerns, and offers to advocate for healthy development in our community. And thanks to everyone who braved the cold last night to do just that.

 

Sincerely,

 

The Build a Better Bloor Dufferin Team

 

Details on Dufferin Mall Proposal

BBBD holds meeting with Primaris over parking lots to apartments

Have you heard that another large redevelopment is in the works for our neighbourhood? It’s hard to keep up these days, but we want to be sure you have the details because our neighbourhood is undergoing significant change.

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Members of Build a Better Bloor Dufferin met last week (11 January) with Primaris VP of development Matthew Kingston. Primaris owns Dufferin Mall and proposes to build up to four towers on the Dufferin Mall site—of the same height as the proposed buildings to the north at Dufferin and Bloor, which range from 11 to 39 storeys. While the company’s promotional material says that the site will be rental housing, Kingston has said in meetings with BBBD and other community groups that Primaris could change course at any time to build condominiums instead. Other details such as park land and community space have yet to be determined.
Plans for the Dufferin Mall development are still in an early phase, and a formal application to the City is not expected until May or June. The community will have its first opportunity to provide input at an open house on January 21, at the soon-to-be-demolished Bloor Collegiate.

Date: Monday January 21, 2018 (6:30–8:30pm)
Location: Bloor Collegiate Institute (Cafeteria), 1141 Bloor Street West

In her 4 December newsletter, City Councillor Ana Bailão said public participation in decisions about the proposed Dufferin Mall development is “crucial.” She said, “I am bringing this to your attention as soon as I became aware to ensure you have an opportunity to get involved.”
Many residents are concerned that the neighbourhood’s physical and social infrastructure isn’t ready to sustain the thousands of new homes now proposed for the neighbourhood. In addition to the two proposals at Bloor and Dufferin, other large new developments are planned just blocks away, at the Galleria Mall and at Bloor and Dovercourt. As local resident Jason Brown put it, “These developments are just the beginning of the changes Bloordale will see in the coming decade. Instead of treating each proposal as a separate entity, the City needs to step back and look at the whole neighbourhood. Can local schools, transit, and services accommodate this many new residents? Will we see small businesses and lower-income families pushed out of the neighbourhood by rising prices? Now is the time to stop and make a plan, so that our community develops sustainably.”
BBBD will be at the public consultation next Monday. Join us to learn more about what the current proposal looks like and be sure to introduce yourselves to us so we can stay in touch. Let’s work together to make sure all of these proposed developments are healthy ones for our neighbourhood.

Signed,

The Build a Better Bloor team

P.S. Ward 9 is having its first ward forum with the new TDSB trustee, Stephanie Donaldson, on Thursday, January 31 at 6 PM at Bloor Collegiate Institute. This will be an opportunity to learn more about plans for the rebuild of BCI.

A Surprising Dufferin Mall Proposal

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Parking lots into apartment towers

 

Have you heard that Primaris Management Inc. is proposing to turn the northern Dufferin Mall parking lots into apartment towers? This proposal for increased development near Bloor and Dufferin has increased the scope of our work as a Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 1.56.53 PMcommunity group. We see the proposal as another opportunity for responsible development that can benefit all members of our community, and the city at large. We are keen to hear the details and to participate in the upcoming community consultations.  You can be sure that we will advocate for measures to ensure community benefits on this site as well as the one to the north. 

Mark your calendars and join us!  There will be an information meeting on January 21st in the Bloor Collegiate Institute cafeteria. We’ll be there.

 

BBBD meets with developer of school lands

BBBD had a successful meeting on 26 November with Matt Young from Capital Developments. Councillor Ana Bailão also attended, as well as Kirk Hatcher and Svetlana Lavrentieva from City Planning (invited by the councillor’s office). 

We emerged from the meeting with a commitment from the developers to participate in a series of issue-specific meetings that BBBD will convene. We hope that these meetings will help us identify options to ensure that the proposal aligns with community expectations and needs.

We also discussed the importance of transparency in City-developer negotiations, and the necessity of including the community in these discussions. Matt agreed to propose to his team that BBBD be included in future discussions with the City. 

As we continue our discussions with the developers, BBBD will continue to engage the community online and through in-person meetings and outreach, to ensure that everyone is kept up-to-date and that we are accurately reflecting the most pressing community concerns. 

 

A fantastic costume and fantastic cause

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Jordi Conway would certainly scare us into donating

BBBD’s most recent community hero is local resident Jordi Conway who fundraised for us on Halloween night. Eleven-year-old Jordi collects money for social and environmental causes each year while trick or treating. He decided to support BBBD after watching this short documentary about our concerns, and not only raised $112 but raised awarenesss by talking to neighbours as he went house to house. Thank you Jordi!

BBBD has had a busy fall:

BBBD gains “standing” before LPAT

Our Ward 9 all-candidates debate

 

 

 

Bloorcourt BIA’s 40th: Celebrating Our Local Heritage month by month

The city’s seventh oldest Business Improvement Area and our local history

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Emily Bosschaart, manager of The Maker Bean Cafe with the 2019 Heritage Calendar. It’s on sale at the cafe and two-other locations in Bloorcourt—or by email. See below

As part of its fortieth anniversary, Bloorcourt BIA has published a limited-edition calendar containing archival and rare photographs of street scenes from our neighbourhood. Each photograph is accompanied by historical commentary and a month-by-month diversity calendar.

The Bloorcourt BIA (Business Improvement Area), made up of Bloor Street West between Dufferin Street and Montrose Avenue, is the seventh oldest of eighty-three BIAs in the City of Toronto. 

Beginning with the Rosina Shopkeepers’ Project—a unique initiative that celebrated the mainly immigrant shopkeepers and builders of Bloorcourt and was awarded with the 2015 Toronto Community Heritage Award—Bloorcourt has been supporting research into its heritage.

Last year, the BIA sponsored Hurly Burly—An Ontario 150 Community Celebration that celebrated three early movie theatres with current-day Bloorcourt comics, actors, and directors. 

The limited-edition Bloorcourt Heritage Calendar can be purchased for $20 from the following shopkeepers and locations in Bloorcourt: 

Alicia, Carlos, and Alex @ Bloorcourt Village Market, 868 Bloor Street West (near Carling);

Chris @ The Maker Bean Cafe, 1052 Bloor Street West (at Havelock), and

Batiste @ Mediterrania Food and Market, 3 Bartlett Avenue (just north of 1062 Bloor).

You can also order a calendar by sending an email to bloorcourt2019@gmail.com.

All proceeds from sales will be donated to THE Working Women’s Community Centre’s Community (WWCC) Community Engagement Program.

Congratulations to WWCC, which is celebrating their twenty-seventh year in Bloorcourt!

Bloor and Dufferin has long faced development pressures

Our community has always wanted a better Bloor Dufferin

 

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A streetcar turning north off Bloor St. onto Dovercourt Rd. in 1965. This picture was taken one year before the opening of the Bloor subway line.

 

Until 1838-39, what is now Bloor and Dufferin was “nearly impenetrable forest” that the Denison sons cleared to build estates for themselves. Dovercourt was one of these estates, owned by Richard Lippincott Denison. It occupied land between what is now Bloor and Queen, and between Dovercourt and Ossington. The other brother, George Taylor Denison II, built the second estate, which stretched further west between Dovercourt and Dufferin, with the same north/south boundaries.  That estate was called Rusholme.

“By mid-century the Denisons had created their own distinct community on the western edge of Toronto. Replete with impressive country houses, ancestral nomenclature, tenants, and a family chapel, an eighteenth-century dynastic vision had been realized in the nineteenth-century Canadian bush.”

Bloor-Dufferin in Pictures, by Cynthia Patterson, Carol McDougall, and George Levin (Toronto Public Library Board Local History Handbook no. 5)

The City of Toronto was incorporated in 1834. Dufferin and Bloor was the northwestern edge of the city but there weren’t many streets beyond Queen and Spadina. Twenty years later, the Denisons’ land, which they’d “acquired at little or no cost,” had exploded in value to between 100 and 300 pounds sterling for every acre of their 100-acre estates.

By the 1870s the neighbourhood existed on paper only. “Developers and speculators knew exactly where the streets would cut through fields and had already determined the size, shape, and numbers of the still grassy lots.” Subdividing, developing, and selling their properties in the 1880s and 1890s, the Denison family and other landowners made significant profits.

A number of schools and churches—for example, Dovercourt Public School on Bartlett and Hallam, and the Ossington Avenue Baptist church at Bloor and Ossington—were built in this era. By 1900, the city of Toronto’s population had grown by close to 700 percent what it had been fifty years prior. Our neighbourhood looked different from what we know. For example:

  • Residential streets were dirt roads
  • Round cedar blocks made up Dufferin street’s surface 
  • Bloor was unpaved between Dufferin and Bathurst until 1913 and had boardwalks for sidewalks.

Kent School opened its doors in 1908. It was the largest public school in Canada. Part of its playground was taken over for Bloor Collegiate, which was built in 1925. 

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Elephants parade down Brock Ave. in 1920. They were an attraction to a circus held on the grounds of the Dufferin Park Race Track. The racetrack existed for decades but was eventually sold to developers and now consists of the land occupied by Dufferin Mall.

The People

In the nineteenth century most people in Toronto traced their origins to the UK. But after the second World War and changes to immigration policy, just under a third of Bloor and Dufferin’s residents had non-British roots. By the 1960s, 77 percent of people here had roots in non-British countries.  Italians made up 40% of the area. Shops selling Indian and Pakistani groceries and saris appeared on Bloor street among Portuguese and Italian stores and West Indian roti restaurants. By the 1970s people from South America made their homes here, as did more folks from South Asia. Chinese and Vietnamese families arrived in the 1980s.

Development Pressures

When the Bloor Danforth subway opened in 1966, the grand old houses near Dufferin Grove were too large to keep up as single-family homes. Many became co-ops, communes, or rooming houses and some residents felt they didn’t belong in their own neighbourhood anymore. The community was open to developers’ offers.

Bath-Shep Apartments Ltd had options to buy most of the block south of Bloor between Dufferin and Gladstone. They planned to buy all the houses, tear them down, and build a large townhouse and apartment complex. But things didn’t go as planned. Sixty families along Gladstone believed that highrises would replace their homes and had made deposits on apartments or new houses. But facing zoning and money problems, the developer disappeared. Residents turned to the city for help. They were never compensated for lost money.

In 1970 Lionstar Investments had even bigger plans for the area along Bloor between Gladstone and Dovercourt down to Dufferin Grove. The community was divided about the company’s proposal. Many wanted to preserve the old houses. Young families felt that the company’s planned bachelor and one-bedroom apartments had failed to consider family housing. By 1972 the city denied Lionstar’s high-density rezoning requests. Opponents of redevelopment had organized to make their voices heard and it made a difference. The company decided to concentrate on the suburbs where there wouldn’t be so many “so-called community workers” to hold their toes to the fire.

If you have memories, or know the history, of development pressure on our neighbourhood, we’d like to hear more. Do you know anything about the “Ward Four Homeowners Association,” the “Havelock Street Tenants Union” or the “South of Dufferin Grove Park Residents Coalition?”

These were groups active in the 1970s and opposed to massive development in our bucolic neighbourhood. Dust off your bell-bottom jeans and tie-die T-shirts and remind us of our history. We’ve always been shit disturbers.

BBBD gains “standing” before LPAT

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Despite being closed as a TDSB school, Kent Public is still used today for visual arts and language classes.

We will have full access to the tribunal’s deliberations

On 5 November Build a Better Bloor Dufferin was given “standing” before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). As a party we will represent our interests at upcoming hearings.

The next pre-hearing on development of the school lands on the south-west corner of Bloor and Dufferin is scheduled for April 18 of next year.

“We got what we came for,” said Maggie Hutcheson, co-chair of the BBBD. She was one of a dozen neighbourhood residents and interested citizens at the session at the LPAT offices on Bay Street.

Bloor Dufferin Ltd. Partnership (the developer) has appealed to the LPAT about delays in having its development proposal approved by the City of Toronto.

BBBD wanted to have legal “standing” in these matters because party standing gives BBBD the right to speak before the adjudicators, call expert witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses testifying in the hearings. BBBD also seeks to understand the City Planning Department’s issues with the development and other factors surrounding the development.

The April pre-hearing will likely decide the issues to be explored at a full LPAT hearing—which might not happen for a year or more.

Tom Halinski, the lawyer representing the developers, said the proposal was for a “complete community” with residential and commercial space, a park, public plaza and community hub. The initial application was submitted to the city in 2017, then appealed in late March 2018 to the LPAT. A revised proposal, with smaller towers and more park and public space, was submitted in April. It is still under review by the City Planning Department.

By appealing to the LPAT even before submitting their revised proposal, the developers will be grandfathered into hearings under the old Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) rules. The LPAT is the successor to the OMB, but planning issue appeals registered before spring 2018 are grandfathered into the old OMB rules.

Critics claim that the OMB favours developers over local resident groups because of the expertise, money, and lengthy hearings that OMB hearings entailed. The new LPAT system is supposed to give the local communities more input into the process.

City of Toronto lawyer Daniel Elmadany said the development will probably not be debated at City Council before the new year. His department still awaits instructions from Council before it prepares a list of issues and procedural orders to share with parties to the development 30 days before the April pre-hearing.

Andrea Adams, who represented BBBD, said our group needs adequate time to review the issues coming before the LPAT. The BBBD already shared a list of our issues about the development with the developer and city planning.

LPAT Adjudicator Lori Bruce said it might be two years before the developer’s appeal reaches a full hearing.

One surprising development was the presence of lawyer Mike Federick representing Dufferin Mall Holdings. The mall was also granted standing as a party.

Three local residents were granted “participant” status for the coming hearings. This means they can make presentations before LPAT but can’t call or cross-examine witnesses.

BBBD to Local Planning Appeal Tribunal

To seek standing at LPAT pre-hearing on Monday Nov. 5

 

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This sign at Kent Public School says “site of a new high school, community hub and licensed chid care centre” Promises made to us—our community—when sale of the site was first proposed.

 

We’ve been busy! In mid October the Build a Better Bloor Dufferin coalition hosted an all-candidates meeting to a packed house. It was invigorating to hear civil debate prior to the city election.

Since then we’ve been working hard to prepare for the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT)where we will seek standing as a “party.” As a resident-led community group we’ve been impressed and inspired by the range of skills and level of support from our neighbour volunteers. We are grateful for recent advice from community experts and planning lawyers about their experiences with the OMB/LPAT. And we’re grateful for the dozens of volunteers who’ve helped out with community outreach, youth involvement, research, and so much more. Our community is diverse but one thing we have in common is how much we care about this neighbourhood and its future!

A “party” at the LPAT

The LPAT is the successor of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Capital Developments has sought a hearing before the LPAT/OMB because they feel that the City of Toronto has delayed planning approval.

Capital Developments has submitted a proposal to the City of Toronto to tear down three existing schools on the site and build condo towers with more than 2,000 units. The Bloor Dufferin community has demanded that any development there—formerly public lands —should include provision for parks, housing, community spaces, and a new, modern high-school to replace our beloved Bloor Collegiate Institute.

By becoming a full so-called party in the hearings, BBBD will be able to present expert testimony, question development plans, and represent the community’s concerns about the development of the seven-acre site at Bloor and Dufferin.

About Monday’s Meeting

Any resident or business owner can come to the LPAT pre-hearing on November 5 to present your own concerns or to observe the pre-hearing. Tell us your concerns about the proposed development?

Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (Toronto)

16th Floor, 655 Bay Street,

Toronto

10:00 am, 5 November

A whole day has been set aside for a pre-hearing to determine when a full LPAT hearing on the development will be heard. (A full hearing may still be months away and could involve days.) Andrea Adams, a long-time resident, will speak as the representative for BBBD at the pre-hearing. We’ll be seeking more information about the development and the City of Toronto’s planning department position on how the development meets the Official Plan for the area.

What difference can you make?

Whether or not you attend the pre-hearing you can still make a BIG difference by giving your opinion about the proposed development on the City of Toronto planning department website. Click in the box that says submit your comments. We’ve been told that the City planning office reads every comment and will use these comments in the LPAT negotiations. In other words, every voice really does count. Talk to your neighbours and encourage them to speak up! What matters to you in a development at Bloor and Dufferin?

And of course share your views with our newly elected municipal representatives:

Ana Bialio

Councillor City of Toronto

email—councillor_bailao@toronto.ca

Twitter—@anabailaoTO

Stephanie Donaldson

Toronto District School Board trustee:

Twitter: @Steph4schools

Facebook @StephanieDonaldsonTO

Frank D’Amico

Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee:

email—frank.damico@tcdsb.org

Twitter—@TrusteeDAmico

 

For more information.

We’ll keep you posted about next steps.

The Build a Better Bloor Dufferin team.