FAQ: The Problem

What’s the problem?

Our community faces two major development proposals. The dilemma is how to grow our community while keeping our neighbourhood one of the best in the city.

Where are the proposed developments?

At the end of 2018 Primaris Management, which owns Dufferin Mall, proposed to build apartment towers on the north-east parking lots of the mall.

This overhead is from an Ana Bailão newsletter from December, 2018.

Adjacent to that site are the school lands on the corner of Dufferin and Bloor. Capital Developments has tentatively purchased those lands and filed a first proposal with the city in 2017 to build a retail complex with condo towers above. The three schools on the site, Kent Public, Bloor Collegiate and Brockton Secondary School will be demolished

Build a Better Bloor Dufferin, a coalition of local residents, business, community, education and arts groups has long advocated that any development at Bloor Dufferin should include more parkland, a new school, community space, daycare and deeply affordable housing. The most recent proposal for Dufferin Mall lands only intensified our community’s commitment to basic amenities. Clearly, development of such closely associated sites must be developed with a plan that covers both sites. They cannot be considered in isolation.

What does the Dufferin Mall proposal include?

Primaris Management Inc., which owns Dufferin Mall, wants to turn the two ground-level parking lots at Dufferin Mall into apartment towers.

A Dec. 4, 2018, newsletter from City counsellor Ana Bailão was the first indication for the broader community of this new development proposal.

Bailão wrote in her newsletter that public participation in decisions about the proposed Dufferin Mall development is: “crucial” and continued “I am bringing this to your attention as soon as I became aware to ensure you have an opportunity to get involved.”

How large is the proposed development at Dufferin Mall?

On January 21, 2019, our community got a 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 held an open-house to promote the project, proposes four apartment towers rising between 11 and 39 stories plus retail space on the 4.5-acre site.

A reconfiguration of retail space, mainly near the present Beer Store but including the fast-food restaurants fronting Dufferin Street, will add between 40,000 and 60,000 sq. ft. of retail space. For comparison, Dufferin Mall already has 550,000 sq. ft. (52,700 m2) of retail and office space.

We do not have key information regarding the Dufferin Mall proposal. Primaris has promised a second, more detailed, open-open-house in the spring of 2019, and then will quickly submit a proposal to the City of Toronto Planning Department by summer. As of February, 2019, nothing has been released about affordable apartment rents.

How many people will live in the Dufferin Mall apartments and on the school lands?

It is reasonable to expect the Dufferin Mall development will result in 1,500 to 2,500 units being built. The most recent proposal for the school lands would result in 2,219 residential units being built.

A “unit” could be a bachelor apartment, loft, one-bedroom, two-bedroom or three-bedroom, or townhouse—condo, rental or free hold. If each of 4,000 units house only 2.5 people on average, there will be 10,000 new community members. For comparison, all of Davenport riding has a population of 108,000.

Expect: 10% more buses needed on Dufferin Street, 10% more students for our schools, 10% more skaters at Dufferin Grove rink, 10% more people at our community centres.

What about the school lands? How large is that development?

Capital Developments most recent proposal to the City planning department was made in April, 2018. The proposal is for four towers between 23 and 40 storeys with two smaller buildings at 16 and six stories. There will be 2,219 units and 223,000 sq. ft. (20,680 m2) of retail/commercial space. For comparison, the New Horizon’s Tower, on the north side of Bloor St., directly across from the school lands, is the tallest building at the intersection—at just 15-storeys.

The lands being sold encompass 7.3 acres (30,000m2—318,000 sq. ft.).The 7.3 acres being sold is supposed to include space for parks.

From Capital Developments proposal. the area designated as “neighbouring proposal” is the land for the new high school to replace BCI. The green space is the park proposed.

A community centre or hub and a daycare are supposed to be included in the remnants of Kent Public School. The school facade will be retained as a heritage asset.

Land to the west, fronting Brock Ave.—basically the now-closed Brockton Secondary School—has been retained by the TDSB to build a new high school.

At what stage is the school lands proposal?

The school lands were sold in 2017 by the Toronto Land Corporation (TLC) to Capital Developments for $120 million, with the provision that the sale was contingent on planning approval for the site.

A development proposal was filed with the Toronto City Planning Department in 2017, and an amended proposal filed in April, 2018.

No final approval has been granted. In an email to BBBD chair Emily Paradis dated Jan. 27, 2019, Capital Developments Matt Young wrote he would be willing to meet with community members, Councillor Bailão and his development team. He wrote this would probably not be possible before February, 2019:  “….our team is working away at some updates so when I have something we can show I will arrange for a meeting.”

As of March 1, 2019, no meeting has taken place.

The public has not been informed what these updates might entail nor if they will meet minimum community requirements. There is some indication of ongoing discussions between Capital’s team and the City planning department with agreement being close, at least on issues of density.

In a Feb. 15 meeting with BBBD steering committee members, Ana Bailão said she has had no contact with the developer in 2019, although the city’s planning department has engaged in ongoing negotiations.

She is not opposed to having community members sit in on a briefing by the planning department on the state of negotiations. There has been discussions with BBBD about meetings which would include Capital, City planning, our councillor and community members, but as of March 8 no dates for such have been set.

Further, there is some indication another revised proposal with lower density is being prepared for submission by Capital Developments. This has apparently the approval of City Planning, although any proposals have not been shared with the community.

What has BBBD done? Where do we stand?

BBBD has made sure the community will have a stand in development of the school lands. We have gained standing before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

Why is the LPAT important in having our voice heard?

In 2018, Capital appealed to the LPAT, claiming the City was too slow in its approval process. The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal is a quasi-judicial provincial board established to deal with municipal planning, financial and land matters. It is the successor of the Ontario Municipal Board, which was notorious for favouring developers and their well-funded lawyers over the concerns of community groups with little or no funds.

With “standing” before the LPAT, we will be able to press our concerns for schools, parks, community space and affordable housing. We are determined to use these hearing to voice our concerns about the school lands development, in hearings which could take a year to conclude.

But there are real dangers. The Dufferin Mall proposal is separate from the school land’s sale and not governed by the same rules. (Both proposals exceed existing density limits and heights in Toronto’s Official Plan.)

Complicating the process is that Primaris (Dufferin Mall) has also gained “standing” before the LPAT in regard to the school lands proposal. This is not surprising. Building a retail mall to the north of Dufferin Mall could hurt sales for mall merchants.

Further, there is some good indication that the city’s planning department has agreed to much of the Capital proposal. 

Aren’t our children supposed to get a new, up-to-date high-school school as part of the sale?

Yes. On Jan., 31, our Toronto District School Board trustee Stephanie Donaldson unveiled some plans for the new Bloor Collegiate Institute.

The school is to be built on the site of the former Brockton Secondary School, in the west of the school lands. The interior of the former Brockton is already being demolished.

Capacity for the new building will be 924 pupils, but with a possible expansion to accommodate 1,200 pupils. As of October 31, 2018, enrolment at Bloor CI was 869.


The new building is being designed by Snyder Architects. Construction is to start in the spring of 2019 and conclude in 2021.

Educators are surprised by the speed the TDSB is building the new school, although moving the existing BCI to a new building has to happen before the old school building can be demolished for condo development.

There are important questions about funding for the new BCI and if it is adequate to meet minimum needs. According to Donaldson’s presentation the school has an “estimated cost of $34 million—funded by a Ministry of Education grant and TDSB proceeds of disposition.”

But some question if $34 million is enough to build a school that will meet education needs today and in the future. The new school won’t have an auditorium or community space. We don’t know if the proposal includes modern, fully equipped, science and computer labs, studios and technical workshops.

Given the number of condo and townhouse developments that have been proposed for BCI’s catchment area, the community is sceptical space for 1,200 students is enough.

What about our parks? How will our new neighbours affect our parkland?

The west-end of Toronto has less parkland than any other sector of the city, given our present population.

Our beloved Dufferin Grove Park has been used by both Primaris and Capital to promote why they should be allowed to build—there’s a park nearby.

Capital has promised a park on the west-side of the development estimated at 1.22 acres (53,200 sq. ft.).That’s a little less than a sixth of the entire site. It is not entirely clear if this park is all to be land owned by the City and administered by the park’s department or publicly used but privately owned park and patios.

Primaris (Dufferin Mall) is proposing using 10% of its development site for a park which will sit across from the northern-most edge of Dufferin Grove. On three sides it will be surrounded by busy streets with a tall apartment tower to its north. It will sit roughly on the same space now occupied in the spring by Lou Miceli’s Garden Centre.

The Dufferin Grove Park community believes that the park is overused and any influx of resident must have usable, contiguous park space. The community doesn’t want the sort of open space that surrounds the apartment towers south of Bloor on Dovercourt. No children play there. Instead children and families head to Dufferin Grove Park where there are basketball hoops, a children’s adventure land with swings and slides, skating rinks, soccer nets and splash pads.

Weren’t we promised a community centre or hub? And what about daycare?

We’ve been promised that any sale of the school lands would be contingent on a fully functioning daycare centre and expansive community centre.

Five years ago, when the sale of the school lands was first proposed, there were an ongoing series of community meetings about what we wanted from the sale of our publically-owned school lands. We were unified and adamant that we wanted affordable housing, parks, an up-to-date school and community space.

Many of those who participated in those community meetings now support BBBD and sit on our steering committee.

A new idea, the “Hub” was created by the previous, Liberal, provincial government as a kind of enhanced community centre. Funding of $7 million was promised to create the centre in the former Kent Public School. According to Toronto’s official plan, daycare must be included in any major development.

In its most recent proposal last April, Capital promised 30,300 sq. ft. (2,815 m2) for community use, including a day care centre, in a repurposed Kent Public School.

About 8,000 sq. ft. would be taken up by daycare. Under current provincial regulations this would be enough space for 100 to 150 pre-kindergarten students.

In comparison, the Wallace Emerson Community Centre sprawls over 100,000 sq. ft. (9,500 m2) and does not include a daycare, but does include a pool.

The proposed development involves the “repurposing” of the former Kent Senior Public School for Community Hub space, with 15,000 sq. ft. (1,370 m2) of the Community Hub space located on the ground floor and 15,500 sq. ft. (1,445 m2) located in the basement of the former school.

The basement is to be used for the daycare.

After complaints from daycare advocates that our little children do not belong in the basement, the April, 2018 proposal re-imagined the daycare space so it has at grade access to an outdoor play area. Community involvement can make a difference in design and services.

What about Dufferin Mall? What community space will the new apartment towers offer?

The Dufferin Mall apartments will not include any public space in its tower complex. Any project built on the mall will be on privately owned land and not subject to the same requirements as development of the school lands; where daycare and a community centre were promised as a condition of sale.

But the Dufferin Mall apartment complex proposal is in its early stages and Primaris is a responsible retail landlord which has shown concern for community needs.

Who will live in these developments? Can families in our local community afford to live in the condos or apartments that will be built?

Affordable housing is one of the most important unresolved issues for both developments.

And we have little beyond empty promises. Our community is unaware of any concrete promises to ensure the sale of the school lands will include deeply affordable housing options.

There has been discussion about using development fees the city collects from developers to purchase part of the school-land development for affordable housing. Basically, Section 37 of the city’s planning act allows the city to collect big money when developers are allowed to exceed the density allowed in the City Plan. This money is to be used for community centres, daycare, public art…and, in rare examples, affordable housing.

As of March 6, no credible accounting has been presented on how these funds will be used to support housing. We don’t know 

Build a Better Bloor Dufferin is continuing the work of the community groups which were tasked years ago with developing a vision of our community after the sale of the school lands. We continue our commitment to deeply affordable housing and well-supported community space as part of any intensification of our neighbourhood.

Is there a detailed list of BBBD standards that includes costs?

If the sale of the TDSB lands at Bloor/Dufferin cannot be stopped, the province and City of Toronto can ensure the deal does not leave community needs unmet. With the $121 million sale of this land and the community asset that it represents, the community needs $48.5 million in additional funds reinvested in the site to help ensure that redevelopment of this public land will include a robust community hub and daycare, adequate public green space, affordable housing, and a sufficient rebuild of Bloor Collegiate.

Specifically, the reinvestment in the community should include:

Land for a 200-unit building of deeply affordable and supportive housing (estimated value $15 million). This would be in addition to the required minimum 10% of affordable housing units that should be integrated into the proposed buildings.

Additional finished space and at least $16.5 million for a community hub of 70,000 square feet as envisioned by the multi-stakeholder 18-member Community Hub Visioning Group who consulted with approximately 450 diverse local residents over a 10-month period. These funds must be additional to the $7 million already allocated to the hub by the previous provincial government.

Additional land (minimum additional 0.5 acre, which we estimate is valued at approximately $7 million) for public green space to relieve current and future overuse pressures on Dufferin Grove Park and the loss of well-used public tennis courts and basketball courts on the site.

Additional funds of at least $10 million for the rebuild of Bloor Collegiate to ensure  the school will adequately serve future students and will remain a resource for community celebrations, public meetings, and showcases of student efforts. We agree with the local school community that current enrolment projections do not account for the massive residential growth in our area. Current provincial funding formula does not provide sufficient funds to build a school of adequate size for our growing population. The Province has not committed adequate funding for the rebuild.

The estimated cost of these community assets is $48.5 million, which is less than half the $121 million sale price of these public lands.

Who is involved and can we influence our elected representatives?

We can influence the stakeholders in these projects: the Toronto District School Board, the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario and the developers are all seeking our approval and buy-in for these development. Stakeholders need to work together to ensure transparent and appropriate development of the site. We want people to contact any of the key players to voice your thoughts, concerns and opinions about any aspect of the site’s development—the new school, the proposed community hub or the development itself—as it evolves.

The Community

Building a Better Bloor Dufferin is an independent community network invested in making the Bloor-Dufferin Development the best possible for Bloordale, Bloorcourt and Toronto.

We are a group of volunteers—residents, businesses, parents—who care about our neighbourhood. We are vocal about the planning and design process; the building of 4,000 condo and rental units on the two sites, and; the absolute need for a rebuilt Bloor Collegiate, a cultural and social community hub, as well as other amenities. We strive to provide information about the development of the 17-acres on the south-west corner of Bloor and Dufferin Streets and at Dufferin Mall. We are working to build relationships and lines of communication with the various stakeholders to ensure that our voice is heard.

The Toronto District School Board

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is the owner of the Bloor-Dufferin school lands which included: Kent Senior Public School (closed in 2012), Bloor Collegiate Institute and Brockton High School (closed in 1995), along with the green spaces used by these schools and the local community. It was via the Toronto Lands Corporation, a subsidiary of the TDSB, that the lands were sold to the developer.

The City of Toronto

The City of Toronto will naturally be heavily involved with respect to planning approvals. However, the City has also mandated that a licensed child care centre be included as part of the development process and will be watching closely to ensure that this commitment is kept and met by the developer.

The Province of Ontario

Under the previous government, the Province partnered with the TDSB on the new school and committed $20 million to support the construction of a new high school (replacing Bloor Collegiate Institute and Alpha II). Also, as part of its general Community Hub mandate, the province promised up to 30,000 square feet dedicated to community hub use.

The June 7, 2018, election of a Progressive Conservative Government threw the whole funding formula into question. Further, Premier Doug Ford’s passage of a bill to cut the number of councillors in the City of Toronto from 47 to 25 made the situation even more difficult. These changes also changed Toronto District School Board ward boundaries.

Your voice will be even more important in this municipal chaos. Ask questions about our community and how the development of Bloor Dufferin can help preserve our educational assets, social diversity and cultural heritage.

The Developers

The developer of the school lands is Capital Developments. According to the TDSB’s press release in December, 2016: “Capital Developments is a recipient of Project of the Year at the 2016 BILD awards, the industry’s highest project level distinction, for the Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos, a 650 unit development with 80,000 square feet of retail in the Yonge & Eglinton area. Capital Developments has partnered with Timbercreek Asset Management and Metropia to provide an in-depth and experienced multi-faceted approach to developing the Bloor- Dufferin site. Capital Developments’s core team includes Hariri Pontarini (architect), Bousfields (urban planner) and Savira Cultural + Capital Projects (cultural consultant).”

According to Metropia’s website, they are “a privately owned and highly respected real estate developer creating authentic Communities in both the Greater Toronto Area and Calgary. Metropia focuses on community building, urban renewal and design innovation. Our communities offer a wide range of housing options with an emphasis on affordability and an abiding responsibility to the environment.”

A dedicated website to the Bloor-Dufferin development has been posted by the developer: A World Class Destination.

A more extensive, and unhyped, version of the development proposal can be found at the City of Toronto’s Development Applications web page. This clunky, interactive, map details development applications in the city. Search for 90 Croatia St., which is the planning address for the school land development. Spend a few minutes looking at the other developments proposed and built in our neighbourhood.

Davenport and the surrounding communities are facing rapid growth with over 10,000 new townhouses, condos and rental apartments proposed, under-construction or built, in the area in last few years.

Key Players

(current as of March 1, 2019)

TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD

Stephanie Donaldson, trustee

416-395-8787

Stephanie.Donaldson@tdsb.on.ca

Facebook @StephanieDonaldsonTO

Twitter: @Steph4schools

Superintendents:

Mike Gallagher

email: 

416-394-2048

Sandra Tondat

email:Sandra.Tondat@tdsb.on.ca

416-394-2046

John Malloy – Director of Education 

416-397-3190

John.Malloy@tdsb.on.ca

CITY OF TORONTO

Ana Bailão – Davenport

Ward 18 Councillor:

councilor_bailao@toronto.ca 

416.392.7012 

http://www.anabailao.com

Bailão won the Oct. 22, 2018 municipal election with a large majority.  She has been supportive and recognizes the need for community space in any development. She is also uniquely positioned to influence the course of development in our community. After the 2018 election Mayor John Tory appointed Bailão as chair of the city’s planning and housing committee. It is one of just four standing committees and has great influence.

Lynda Macdonald – Manager, City Planning Division: lmacdon1@toronto.ca or 416-392-7618 or @cityplanto

Kirk Hatcher – Planner, Community Planning: Kirk.Hatcher@toronto.ca  or 416.392.0481 or @cityplanto

PROVINCE OF ONTARIO

Marit Stiles, (Davenport, NDP)

MStiles-QP@ndp.on.ca

416-326-7202

Formerly TDSB trustee for the Davenport area, Stiles was elected MPP in the June, 2018, provincial election. She has been supportive and recognizes the need for community space in any development.

Lisa Thompson – Minister of Education, (Huron-Bruce)

lisa.thompson@pc.ola.org, 416-325-2600

Lisa McLeod – Minister of Community and Social Services, (Nepean), lisa.macleodco@pc.ola.org, 416-325-5225

Raymond Cho – Minister for seniors and accessibility, (Scarborough North,) raymond.cho@pc.ola.org, 416-325-9100

Steve Clark – Minister of municipal affairs and housing, (Leeds Grenville, Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes) 416-585-7000

DEVELOPERS

Matt Young – Capital Developments, VP Development: 416.665.9310

416.665.9310

matt@capitaldevelopments.com

Matt Kingston—Primaris Management, VP Development and Construction

647-258-3666

MKingston@primarisreit.com