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 some light summer reading while catching a few rays on Bloordale Beach, here is the Planing department’s reporand here is their backgrounder on the development.

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 teycc@toronto.ca. The Dufferin Mall issue is expected to be debated about 10 a.m.

And so goes the plague summer of 2020

We Have Good News!

Dear Neighbours,


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
Call: 647-484-1598
Access code: 133 318 6123

24 June 6:30 to 8:00 PM
Call: 647-484-1598
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 modularhousing@toronto.ca 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 modularhousing@toronto.ca 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 chair@buildbloordufferin.ca 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 Forum Feb. 20

Join our neighbours in deciding our community’s future: Thurs. Feb. 20, BCI
The neighbourhood is changing. Fast. There’s so much important organizing happening right now. It can feel hard to keep up with everything—we’re all pretty busy! And still, we encourage you to find the time to come out to BBBD’s drop-in community forum this Thursday from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. Details below. Come get involved in our advocacy for inclusive and equitable development in our neighbourhood! Or at least drop in for an update.
 
Community Forum
Thursday 20 February 2020
Drop in anytime between 6:00 and 8:30 (There will be a presentation at 7:00 pm.)
Bloor Collegiate Institute cafeteria
1141 Bloor St. West at Dufferin

 
Build a Better Bloor Dufferin is a volunteer group of residents, artists, business owners, service providers, students, and teachers working together for equitable and inclusive development in the Bloor-Dufferin neighbourhood.
 
Come hear updates about the redevelopment of the Bloor Collegiate site, the Dufferin Mall development, and the new Affordable Housing Land Trust that BBBD is helping to establish. Join a BBBD working group and get active for equitable and inclusive development in our neighbourhood!
 
Kids are welcome. The venue is wheelchair accessible.
 
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

(Download the PDF version of this press release here)

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

Bloor Collegiate Institute, October, 2019

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?

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

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

Rainbow over Kent Public School. Sept. 23, 2019

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.

Summer survey results

The results of our summer survey show we want affordable housing, community space and parks

See more survey results here

We asked—and you answered! BBBD’s summer community survey garnered more than 125 responses from people of all ages (half under 40) and all living situations (60% owners, and 40% renters). See the results here.

How high the sky?

Comparison of the towers coming to Bloor Dufferin

Richard Male, a local resident, put together this graph that illustrates how high the proposed condo and apartment towers are in comparison to existing buildings. The luxury towers slated for the school lands and the parking lots at Dufferin mall are way out of scale in comparison to what already exists in our neighbourhood.

On the left are existing high rises in our neighbourhood; 1140 Bloor, for example, is the New Horizon Towers.

B-Ball to condo sales

That lonely, but much-used, basketball net smack on the corner of Bloor Dufferin to become condo sales office. BCI grad Nick Vo shoots a few hoops 

Along with a proposed sales office for the condo towers, Capital Developments have also pitched an artist’s alley and market square in the form of container markets. 

2 thoughts on “City Against Mall Towers

  1. Rebecca Hagey says:

    As the affordable housing advocate for the Toronto University Women’s Club I want to see Sistering and Romero House on Bloor Street benefit massively in the new scenario because of desperate need and well documented competence of these organizations. The YWCA is also a credible partner to develop affordable housing for women.

    Like

  2. Judy Baines says:

    This is yet another example of repulsive NIMBYism dressed up in “progressive” clothing. As a long-time affordable housing advocate, I have watched with dismay as million-dollar homeowners have attempted to block this project with a number of specious arguments, most notably the demand for more affordable housing. I would love to see a project solely dedicated to affordable, supportive or RGI housing on this site but that ain’t going to happen. There is a definite opportunity to build more affordable units than is proposed BUT you can’t have your cake and eat it too. In order for the developer to build more affordable housing and still make their expected profit, they would have to be allowed to build up. But here’s where the blatant hypocrisy kicks in. The NIMBY neighbours freak out at the very mention of a high rise. You say you are not against density but you want to keep these developments as low as possible using a number of preposterous arguments – everything from the lack of transport (the thing is being built across from a subway station, for chrissake, but the NIMBYs ignore that and cite the already crowded Dufferin bus; the lack of green space (the site is a three minute walk to Dufferin Grove Park); the lack of infrastructure (it’s these development fees that let the city pay for better infrastructure). Yes, a higher development means more shadow, posing a minor inconvenience to some neighbours but that pales in comparison to the potential benefits of adding more affordable housing and economic diversity to the neighbourhood. I realize that the advocates are well-meaning and likely believe their own arguments (as opposed to the repulsive right-wing NIMBY’s in East York and other areas of the city) but their efforts are increasingly counter-productive as is the equally infuriating movement fighting the Galleria development which is actually building desperately needed rental housing (and, although most of those units will be unaffordable, studies show that any increase in rental housing stock has a positive impact on overall housing affordability.) There are two major factors keeping housing unaffordable in Toronto (other than the refusal of politicians to enact real rent controls) — the lack of density and the proliferation of Air B and B’s. Like it or not, you are exacerbating the problem rather than helping to solve it!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s