Welcome to the spring of 2021. Let us hope these warm days mark the end of our long, COVID winter.
During the past difficult winter months Build a Better Bloor Dufferin has been concentrating on three issues: a provincial hearing on the Dufferin Mall proposal; a “visioning”committee trying to enhance development of the site; and the loss of an important arts landmark in our neighbourhood.
LOCAL PLANNING APPEAL TRIBUNAL
Since Dufferin Mall owners, Primaris REIT, proposed building four towers on the north-west portion of the mall’s parking lot, Build a Better Bloor Dufferin has been working with the City to ensure that the development is tailored to retain the character of the neighbourhood and meet community needs.
We’ve been gathering community input on how the massive development should be designed to ensure that critical community needs are met. Results to date show overwhelming support for significant green space, affordable units, and daycare. Thanks to everyone who has completed our community survey and sent in comments. Here’s a link to the survey.
Your input is critical support for the position we take in discussions with the developer — the more the input, the stronger the message.
Through discussions and mediation, we hope to resolve the issues before the summer but in case the parties can’t see eye to eye, we’ll be at the August 9th Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearing. This hearing will determine if the City has unduly delayed approving the development. The LPAT is a provincial decision-making body where issues of development, building, and municipal planning are decided. It is a difficult, expensive process for community groups trying to make their voices heard. Developers, with their high-priced legal experts, speak loudly.
Earlier in March, BBBD participated in mediation sessions with the developer, the City and Croatia Church representatives with the aim to come to a consensus on critical items such as the height of the towers, roads, trucks access and sewer and water connections to the site. We are hopeful that more sessions will be held to gain agreement on the site plan, built form features, and community services and benefits that will result in and support a diverse, vibrant community.
BBBD pushed to be included in mediation sessions because these site plan issues will have a big impact on appropriate parkland, green space, daycare, affordable housing, and other community services like affordable space for arts and cultural activities. Confidentiality rules don’t allow us to discuss details of the mediation with you but if we are successful, revised development plans will mirror your input.
Do You Have Expertise in Planning or Other Areas? We Need YourHelp! BBBD needs expert witnesses who can work with us to prepare and present our case at the LPAT. We know our neighbourhood has a wealth of expertise on issues related to the Dufferin Mall development — things like planning, architecture, affordable housing, homelessness, community services, arts and culture. If you can help please contact us <email@example.com> before April 1. Or maybe you can persuade a friend who speaks planning to help out?
COMMUNITY WORKING GROUP
BBBD also has representatives on Councillor Ana Bailão’s Community Working Group on 900 Dufferin St. We helped prepare a Visioning Document for the site which was presented last December. The vision statement was put together by numerous community representatives and residents. BBBD was proud to join them in voicing our hopes. Chief among them was a demand for adherence to the City’s planning bylaws, which require 20% of units built on large sites be affordable housing.
We have the community’s visioning document.
The visioning statement sent a powerful message to the developers about the community’s commitment to inclusive housing, contiguous parkland and support for our sports and artistic communities.
Dufferin Mall Holding Group responded in February 2021 with a report detailing its commitment to community benefits but we still feel that we face huge funding and commitment issues. Going forward there is optimism though, because Dufferin Mall has shown a real interest in hearing community issues, despite continuing the LPAT challenge to City Planning. But we need your help. The louder your voice, the better. Share with us your thoughts on development, offer suggestions, and talk to your elected representatives!
DOVERCOURT HOUSE: AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT WE NEED TO SAVE
Dovercourt House, just north of Bloor Street, is a vital space for professional dance and theatre rehearsals during the day—where people in our community practiced their livehoods—and also the go-to place for many social dance clubs on evenings and weekends.
There is a new lease holder for the building and many long-standing users may loose their dance homes.
For over two decades, the brick building with its sprung floors has been home to an eclectic mix of dance events. Tens of thousands of Torontonians have come through its doors to practice Swing, Latin and Urban as well as yoga, capoeira and more.
Our community needs spaces like the Dovercourt House that can support arts, culture and social gathering.
Here’s BlogTO’s take.
“The thing about Bloordale Beach is that it is totally a real Beach.” Now that the Duff Grove gardens are being shut down to accommodate construction of the new rinks, isn’t it time to guerrilla garden Bloordale Beach?
Our community’s vision
Committee report maps way to successful Duff Mall development
Members of the community working with our Ward-19 councillor, Ana Bailão, have put forth a vision for the development of Dufferin Mall.
Primaris, the mall’s owner, has applied for rezoning of the northern section of Dufferin Mall. The area, now mainly parking lots, would be redeveloped to include apartment towers with about 1,135 residential units.
Bailão set up the committee in late spring, 2020, in an attempt to bridge concerns the community has expressed about affordable housing, parks, transit and community space. The committee includes representatives of: Primaris and its architectural firms, local residents, and community organizations.
As a way of supporting engagement, the community members of Ana’s committee, which includes members of Build a Better Bloor Dufferin, came up with a Vision statement.
The Dufferin Mall Community Working Group’s Vision Statement is below. Take the time to read it and tell us what you think.
November: Bloordale Beach
Update on development at Bloor/Dufferin
It’s been a while since we’ve touched base about developments in our neighbourhood. Like most people in the city, members of Build a Better Bloor Dufferin have been working to figure out how to meet in physically distant ways, how to navigate in the midst of this weird and challenging new normal. And Primaris/Dufferin Mall Holdings Inc., the owners of the Dufferin Mall, are also working to make their plans for the northern Dufferin Mall parking lot a reality. Here’s some of what’s going on:
We’re representing you at the tribunal—take our survey and help define the issues
BBBD has been granted party status at the hearing on the Dufferin Mall redevelopment before the Land Use Planning Tribunal (LPAT). We are developing our list of issues for that hearing and we want to know what members of the Bloor-Dufferin community think! Complete our 5-minute survey here to let us know your priorities for the site.
Between the massive new developments at Galleria, Bloor Collegiate, and Dufferin Mall, our immediate neighbourhood will see more than 6,000 new units added in the near future, with more to come. That’s why BBBD believes we need a Secondary Plan—a neighbourhood-wide plan by the City that sets parameters for new development. We need to ensure that our neighborhood’s physical and social infrastructure—from water mains to transit to parks and affordable housing—can keep up with all this growth.
Dufferin Mall Development Update
Primaris is proposing to redevelop the north parking lots of the mall into rental buildings and commercial space. The East Block bordering Dufferin Street is proposed to have two towers of 14 and 23 storeys, connected by an 8-storey “podium.” The West Block, bordering Croatia, is proposed to have a 5-storey base with two towers of 35 and 39 storeys. A total of 1,135 rental units is proposed for the site. The proposal also includes a 1,561-square-meter park (that’s less than 0.4 acres) south of the buildings on Dufferin, and a private street connecting Croatia to Dufferin. You can see all the details about the proposal on the City’s Development Application portal.
A key problem with the proposal is that, at 8.54 hectares (21 acres), the Dufferin Mall site should fall under the City’s Large Sites Policy, which would require a master site plan with significant community benefits, including 20 percent affordable housing. But by applying to develop only a portion of the site, Primaris evades these obligations.
BBBD has been keeping tabs on this proposal, and we started taking action in early 2020 right after we won $17 million for affordable housing and community space from the developers of the Bloor Collegiate site across the street.
In February, BBBD members attended the public meeting about the Dufferin Mall development. Like our neighbours, we were not impressed with the tiny proposed park, non-existent community space, and total absence of affordable housing.
The June 25 2020 City Planning report recommended that the City oppose the application at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), citing concerns about the building height and massing, shadowing of surrounding schools and parks, and problems with the proposed private road. When the proposal came to Toronto East York Community Council in July 2020, BBBD sent a letter supporting the City Planning report.
Since August, BBBD Steering Committee members Lynn Cepin, Erella Ganon, Joe McAllister, and Maggie Hutcheson have been participating in the working group on Dufferin Mall convened by Councillor Ana Bailão.
Between the massive new developments at Galleria, Bloor Collegiate, and Dufferin Mall, our immediate neighbourhood will see more than 6,000 new units added in the near future, with more to come. That’s why BBBD believes we need a Secondary Plan—a neighbourhood-wide plan by the City that sets parameters for new development. We need to ensure that our neighborhood’s physical and social infrastructure—from water mains to transit to parks affordable housing—can keep up with all this growth.
10 November: Consultation on the City’s Online Inclusionary Zoning
Inclusionary Zoning is a tool that enables the City to require that every new development includes a fixed percentage of affordable units. When implemented properly, IZ is an important tool for ensuring equitable and inclusive development and discouraging predatory speculation.
The Planning department is consulting on its proposed IZ policy for Toronto. There are some good things in this policy—like the requirement that units stay affordable forever instead of for a limited time period. There are also improvements that need to be made—especially increasing the “set-aside” or what proportion of a development would have to be affordable. Currently the City is proposing set-asides between 2.5 and 10 percent, when their own analysis showed that some strong market areas could support set-asides of 20 percent or more.
With our neighbourhood at the epicenter of Toronto’s transit and development boom, Bloor-Dufferin residents need to make our voices heard.
On November 10, from 6 til 7 pm, ACORN, Progress Toronto, and Parkdale People’s Economy are co-hosting an online event in advance of the City’s 7-9 pm online IZ consultation. Please register ahead to participate in this event
Party at the LPAT
Not that kind of party! BBBD has registered as a party at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearing on Dufferin Mall which is scheduled to take place in August of 2021. We remain committed to fighting for community benefit from any development in our neighbourhood.
As part of the LPAT process, BBBD must submit an “issues list” outlining our community’s concerns with the proposal, and what changes to the proposal we are seeking. Needless to say, we have issues! We are developing our list of issues for that hearing and we want to know what members of the Bloor-Dufferin community think! Complete our 5-minute survey here to let us know your priorities for the site.
And let the City know your priorities:
Councillor Ana Bailão firstname.lastname@example.org
City Planner Carla Tsang Carla.email@example.com
Modular housing update
Shovels hit the ground at 150 Harrison street (the site of the former police station on Dovercourt between Dundas and College) recently to build a three-storey building with 44 bachelor apartments and support services. The urgently needed affordable units will house people who are currently in the shelter system. “Supportive housing combines affordable housing with coordinated services, and can truly make a difference in peoples’ lives,” said Mayor John Tory.
This plan is exactly what BBBD wants to see: 100 percent affordable housing on public land, with community space included in the development. The outcry from a small but well-organized group of residents opposed to this development shows us that there is still work to be done to address stigma and discrimination in our community.
City Against Mall Towers
T/EY Community Council opposes Duff Towers proposal
Toronto East York Community Council, on July 16, voted to reject a proposed development of the north parking lot of Dufferin Mall into a series of apartment towers.
Council voted to direct city staff to oppose mall-owners, Primaris Management, who have gone to at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal claiming the City has not responded quickly enough to their development proposal.
City Planning detailed a list of concerns, including a too-small park, lack of affordable housing, and few public amenities, among other deficiencies. The City will probably argue before the LPAT that Primaris has not met the minimum requirements of the planning and development acts and therefore should have no expectation of quick City approval.
The City will continue to negotiate with Primaris about the development
Here’s the digital meeting. If you go to 1:56:30 you will hear the issue being debated. Erella Gagnon, speaking on behalf of Build a Better Bloor Dufferin and Councillor Ana Bailão voice their concerns. (We haven’t figured out how to take you directly to the the relevant portion of a five-hour, online, city meeting. Suggestions welcome)
Duff Mall Towers and Bloordale Beach
Spending time on Bloordale Beach? That’s the name locals have given to the sandy, barren stretch of demolition land slated to be the site of the new Bloor Collegiate Institute. It was the former site of Brockton High School. Artist Shari Kasman and other locals have posted signs promoting the beach… and apparently nominated the site for UNESCO Heritage protection.
There is an important meeting this Thursday of the Toronto East York Community Council, which will be debating the city’s response to the development of four massive towers on the north-side of Dufferin Mall.
At issue is the developer petitioning the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal to make the City approve the plans and issue the needed permits. The City Planning department wants direction from the council and says the development, as proposed, doesn’t meet basic requirements for parks, affordable housing and community benefits, among other deficiencies.
Build a Better Bloor Dufferin is voicing our support of the planning department’s concerns. Read our letter to the council, here.
If you want to attend the virtual meeting, it starts at 9:30 a.m. You can watch at http://www.youtube.com/TorontoCityCouncilLive. If you want to speak to the issue, you must register by noon the day before the meeting: 416 392 7033 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Dufferin Mall issue is expected to be debated about 10 a.m.
We Have Good News!
It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to meet in person to talk about development in our neighbourhood. Today there’s some welcome good news about affordable housing.
Affordable Modular Housing
An affordable rental housing project has been approved for the site of the former police station on Dovercourt between Dundas and College. The City-owned land is zoned for residential purposes and currently vacant. 150 Harrison Street will include 44 bachelor units and support services.
Ward 9 City Councillor, Ana Bailão, explains: “Last month City Council approved a plan to build new affordable rental apartments using modular housing, basically prefabricated buildings that are manufactured off-site to high standards and then installed once the property is ready. This type of housing is less expensive than building more shelters or putting people up in hotels or motels, it is better quality and will help people to have a small place of their own.” The apartments are scheduled to be built and ready for occupancy in fall 2020.
“This project is on an expedited timeline to meet the urgent need for housing,” said Brian Johnston, CEO of CreateTO—the city’s real estate agency. “COVID-19 has forced us to rethink how we work. We have all pulled together to get this done on an expedited basis, and will continue to do so.”
Build A Better Bloor Dufferin couldn’t agree more that there’s an urgent need for deeply affordable, accessible, and supportive housing. COVID-19 has highlighted more than ever how vital a safe home is for health and life.
Sadly, we’ve heard that some neighbours plan to speak against this development. Usually this kind of opposition is based in fears and misconceptions about the folks who live in affordable and supportive housing. Luckily, we have great organizations like The Dream Team nearby—a speaker’s bureau whose members raise awareness and combat stigma by sharing their own stories of mental health struggles, homelessness, and supportive housing. If you have questions or concerns about supportive housing, check out their website to learn more.
We know that most of our neighbours treasure our neighbourhood’s diversity and inclusion and want to keep our community affordable and welcoming for people from all walks of life. We will be participating in the upcoming public consultation sessions about this site and encourage you to join us. Let’s celebrate this great news and voice our support for affordable housing on this site and on future sites in our neighbourhood.
There are two upcoming consultations about building and site design elements, such as lighting, pathways, landscaping and parking; ongoing community engagement, and ideas for how to support and integrate the new residents into the neighbourhood:
Wednesday 17 June 4:30 to 6:00 PM
Access code: 133 318 6123
24 June 6:30 to 8:00 PM
Access code: 133 963 2197
You can also join the online session or learn more at toronto.ca/modularhousing.
If you are unable to attend either of the sessions, you can also write to the City of Toronto to express your support. Send your email to email@example.com by 24 June.
If you are unable to attend either of the sessions, you can also write to the City of Toronto to express your support. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 24 June.
Supporting Small Businesses on Bloor
Many of you will have heard the story about Pam’s Roti on Bloor. The owner of the restaurant, Jameloon “Pam” Bacchus Singh, sent out a public plea for help when her landlord threatened to evict her for not being able to pay her full rent for June. She wrote “take-out only sales have dropped but I know once the restrictions are lifted, sales will rise and things will be different.” She asked the landlord to apply for the CECRA rent subsidy that would cover 75% and she’d pay 25% for June’s rent. He refused because it was “too much work” to fill out the application forms! But our community stepped up. Residents generously contributed to two different locally organized GoFundMe campaigns and raised enough money to cover Pam’s rent and save the restaurant.
“Main streets” like Bloor are the life blood of a community and here in Bloorcourt/Bloordale we value both our local businesses and the rental housing above many of their storefronts. We don’t want to lose businesses like Pam’s Roti to big chains or speculative vacancies. Look out for further information from us soon, as we ramp up a campaign to keep our strip of Bloor diverse, local, and affordable.
A Message to Our Working Groups
Our fabulous February 20th community forum feels so long ago now—another era, even. But we haven’t forgotten about the incredible community energy from all of you who signed up to join BBBD working groups. We are revamping our working process for these times but still welcome your energy and contributions! We’ll be reaching out soon to those who signed up. Get in touch if you can spare the time to help with advocacy for community space, parks, affordable housing, or arts and culture in our neighbourhood. Contact email@example.com for more info.
Who we are
Build a Better Bloor Dufferin (BBBD) is a group of residents, local business owners, artists, service organizations, and members of the local school communities. We are dedicated to the sustainable development of the Bloor-Dufferin neighbourhood as it changes with the proposed new development at the southwest corner of Bloor and Dufferin.
Community Group wins $17-million Land Trust
Community groups and nonprofit housing providers are pleased to announce the creation of a historic land trust that will invest $17 million in housing and community facilities.
Build a Better Bloor Dufferin (BBBD), a community group advocating for community benefits from the large development at Bloor and Dufferin, secured these benefits from Capital Developments. The arrangements will commit funds through local nonprofit housing providers Habitat for Humanity and St Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society.
See full report here.
It ain’t over till it’s over
Hello BBBD supporters! It has been a dizzying few weeks, with some major new developments – including an anticipated date of November 5 for the City to make its settlement with the developer public, and the revelation of a December 31 expiry date for the purchase agreement between the developer and Toronto Lands Corporation. Read on for details!
On October 2, BBBD met with representatives from Bloor-Dufferin Development Limited Partnership and the City’s Planning, Affordable Housing, and Social Development and Finance divisions, in a formal mediation process with land-use planning mediator James McKenzie. The issues discussed in mediation must remain confidential, but we can tell you that it was a very long day, with much intense discussion, and many calculators. Read on for details!
Is it best time runs out?
There is a Dec. 31, 2019 deadline on the deal to sell the 7.3 acre site that includes Bloor Collegiate and Kent Public School for the development of luxury condo towers. According to newly release documents, the original request for offers, if the developers don’t get planning approval, we can walk away without repercussions. Read the full opinion article.
Night of Dread & The Sun in Winter
Celebrate 20 years of Dreadful Fun & How Multiple Towers Cast Winter Shadows
Clay & Paper Theatre’s 20th annual Night of Dread features one bonfire we’ll be using this year. At the end of the celebratory community parade (Sat. Oct. 26. Bring your kids; everyone walks) there is a now-traditional burning of our “fears” in Dufferin Grove Park. You write your fears on paper and commit it to a bonfire.
Those north of Bloor might have some fears about the shadow which will be cast by the proposed condo-towers on the darkest days of the year.
Richard Male, a local artist, created this GIF to illustrate how the luxury towers’ shadow will be cast across our neighbourhood on Dec. 31 of each year. (See below for his GIFs from June 21 and Sept. 21. There is no need for a GIF from the spring equinox, March 21 because the shadows are the same as on Sept. 21, the fall equinox.)
With the sun low in the southern sky on Dec. 21, a majority of the shadow will be cast north of Bloor; onto Gladstone Ave. in the east and Russett Ave. in the west. The shadows will extend up much of the way to Wallace Ave and Shanly St. to the north.
If you have some fears about the proposed towers on the school lands and Dufferin Mall, you may want to attend our neighbourhood’s famous Night of Dread. The parade starts at 4 p.m. at Dufferin Grove, followed by “mockery” in the park at 6 p.m. and a dance at 7 p.m. If you can’t attend, then donate at clayandpapertheatre.org. We need to support Night of Dread as part of our fall traditions, just like Thanksgiving or Halloween on Havelock St.
Are You in the Shade?
How much sunlight will you lose when they build luxury condo towers at Bloor/Dufferin? Check out these GIFs
Having six towers, four of which range from 33 to 39 storeys nearby will cast some real shadows in our neighbourhood.
But who will end up in the shade?
Richard Male, a local resident, took data from a City of Toronto planning department website to create these graphs. The data is from official development proposals submitted to the City.
One GIF is for the summer solstice, June 21, and the other for the fall equinox, Sept. 21.
Residents from Emerson to the north-west of Bloor/Dufferin and Havelock at Dufferin Grove Park south-east of Bloor/Dufferin will be in the shade for substantially more time than present. See if your balcony, garden or patio will be in the dark.
Richard has offered to prepare a winter solstice GIF which will indicate the shade thrown by the towers at a time of the year when the sun is at its weakest and catching a few, faint winter rays are our only hope.
It will be a GIF for Hallowe’en.
The grey shade in the GIFs is our present shadows. The blue and purple shadows indicate how much more of our homes will be in the shade with the building of the towers. Blue for the condo towers on the school land; purple for the proposed apartment towers on Dufferin Mall.
Time is running out !
BBBD Calls Developers into Mediation Over Bloor Dufferin Site
After more than 20 meetings with the City, Councillor, and developers in the past year, BBBD has requested a mediation process. Talks stalled earlier this month when it seemed that the proposed settlement with the developer would create only a fraction of the affordable housing, community space, and green space that we know is achievable on the site. BBBD sees mediation as an opportunity to both demonstrate the viability of our community’s vision for the site and build a bridge to a workable solution. In hopes of arriving at an agreement quickly, we will go into mediation next week, on October 2nd.
We believe that the public land at Bloor and Dufferin has the potential to showcase an exciting new approach to redevelopment in Toronto that can help turn the tide on our housing crisis and the growing inequality in our city. Respected nonprofit housing developers have shown how we could build five times more affordable housing on the site than what’s currently on the table. We’ve endorsed a visionary plan that would see hundreds of units of affordable housing integrated into the 2,000 proposed condominiums, along with a beautiful, spacious community hub. This could be a new St. Lawrence neighbourhood—a truly inclusive community for residents across all income brackets, next to a subway station. What better use could we make of this public land? Read our entire fall newsletter.