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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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?