Future of our community

Neighbourhood wants four floors and a green roof.

Ana Bailão addresses resident in the BCI cafeteria June 24.

Opinion

When the future of Davenport was discussed at a June 24 public meeting, special attention was paid to over-the-top development in our neighbourhood.

Ana Bailão, our councillor, has been holding meetings around Davenport asking local residents about how our community should grow. In her most recent meeting at Bloor Collegiate Institute cafeteria, Ana spoke to a group of 45 residents about current successes: a light-industrial complex at Dufferin and Queen, a seven-story office complex slated for Wade Ave., park improvements and planning for an expanded Bloor Bike Lane.

Ana also wants to bring express buses to Lansdowne Street, given the success of express buses on the Dufferin 29 route. “We need to be more proactive” about transportation, she said.

But many of the questions Bailão faced involved the proposed massive developments and their effect on transportation, parks, community space and housing.

Bailão, referred to a TTC study which suggests development in the Dufferin corridor from Wilson to the Lakeshore will result in 200,000 new residents. (We’ll update this item if we find out more details about the study and the timeframe.)

Build a Better Bloor Dufferin had a table at the event and attracted many residents seeking information on the condo towers to be built on the school lands at Bloor Dufferin and the apartment towers on Dufferin Mall.

(BBBD also talked to hundreds of concerned neighbours at the Dundas West Fest in early June. As one of the first street festivals of the summer it was a crowded event.)

Bailão has been busy trying to raise support for affordable housing and community benefits. She had held numerous meetings with the Capital Developments team, city planning staff, community representatives and BBBD.

Presently city requirements would result in less than 100 of the 2,000 residential units planned for the school lands being designated for affordable housing. Talks have stalled on the idea that 100 plus units could be made available.

Bloc D is the building labelled 16, and fronts on an unlabelled Kent Public School. (Courtesy Primaris)

There are also ongoing discussions about the Hub or community centre to be built in the remains of Kent Public School. The TDSB required at least 30,000 sq. ft. of community space from anyone buying the school lands. Capital’s proposal would have this 30,000 sq. ft. include space for daycare. The basement would be renovated for daycare with the first floor being occupied by a small amount of community space. 

Some in the community propose the entire four floors of a renovated Kent school be dedicated to community/daycare space. (And a green roof on  top of the school be open to the public.) Further there has been talk that the smallest tower in Capital’s plans—Building D —be completely dedicated to affordable housing, which would result in 400 residential units. Capital is believed to be offering a building with significantly fewer units.

Despite the vast differences between what the community wants for the sale of our school lands and what Capital is offering, it is expected the city’s planning department will approve a deal this coming fall. Our city’s planning department has a history of caving to developers’ demands. A strong community demand for housing, parks and amenities makes a big difference.

(For comparison Wallace Emerson at Dufferin and Dupont is about 100,000 sq. ft. now. And the approved proposal for the Galleria redevelopment will result in new, larger and expanded community centre.)

In response to a question from the audience, Bailão told the June 24 meeting that she expects it will take two years before the deal is finally approved; it must go to City Council and be approved by the Ontario Municipal Board/Local Planning Approval Tribunal. These institutions have been upended by Doug Ford’s changes to the planning acts which favour of developers. Nobody knows what will result. — Joe McAllister (this post has been amended since first published on June 26)

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