Duff Mall agrees to 120 affordable units

Protest at Dufferin Mall, July, 2021

10% of apartments in towers to be affordable for 99 years.Protest

Dear neighbours,

After over a year of community effort, BBBD is pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with Primaris REIT to provide 120 affordable rental units in the planned new Dufferin Mall tower development. These affordable units will make up over 10% of the total residences in the new buildings and have been secured for 99 years.

They will be reserved for local people struggling with housing. Tenants will be referred by local non-profit agencies who provide settlement and housing supports in our neighbourhood, and the City of Toronto’s Affordable Housing Office will create strong tenant support and eviction prevention plans to make sure that tenants get the supports they need.

We are very excited about this agreement’s contribution to the Bloor Dufferin neighbourhood. Not only will it provide much-needed affordable housing but it sets a minimum expectation for future developments in the area. As a result of the agreement, BBBD has withdrawn our legal opposition to the new development at the Land Use Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT). Nonetheless, we were disappointed that negotiations did not result in other important community benefits on the site, like significantly improved park space or increased child, youth and senior care and activity space to enhance our growing and vibrant community. 

This was truly a community effort. We would like to thank Ward 9 City Councillor Ana Bailão, who supported us throughout this process, ensuring that our voices were heard by City staff and by the developers. Thanks are also due to the other members of the Dufferin Mall Community Working Group, who set the bar high from the beginning, with a strong community vision statement for the site. 

We would like to thank Ward 9 City Councillor Ana Bailão, who supported us throughout this process, ensuring that our voices were heard by City staff and by the developers. Thanks are also due to the other members of the Dufferin Mall Community Working Group, who set the bar high from the beginning, with a strong community vision statement for the site. We thank our lawyer, Marc Kemerer, for supporting our participation in the LPAT process, and the four volunteer expert witnesses who prepared statements and offered to testify on our behalf at the Tribunal. Finally, thanks are due to all of you, our neighbours, for your strong support, vocal enthusiasm, generous donations, participation in our surveys and summer leafletting, and ongoing advocacy for equitable development in our neighbourhood and beyond.

We are proud of our community’s insistence on equitable and inclusive urban development. Surely, though, such intense community efforts, shouldn’t be necessary to secure the benefits and housing we need. BBBD supports calls for a robust Inclusionary Zoning policy that would make these obligations clear, mandatory and permanent. And we are pleased that Councillor Bailão’s motion to initiate a secondary plan for the area was passed in January 2021. Legislating clearer rules for developers, so that they contribute to all elements of complete communities, is critical. We will be continuing to advocate for and support meaningful community engagement in the secondary plan process.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions, comments or would like to get involved in BBBD’s work.


Build A Better Bloor Dufferin

Theatre company previews new five man play in Dufferin Grove Park during mid-September heatwave. Just one aspect of our unique neighbourhood.

Dufferin Mall Towers

Formal application to city reveals Liberty Village II


Dufferin Mall has formally submitted an application to build four apartment towers on its parking lot. And the July 8 submission to the City Planning Department looks worse than we had hoped.

The massive apartment complex proposed will have a much bigger presence on Dufferin and Croatia Streets than many anticipated. On the west, overshadowing Brockton Stadium, will be a six storey retail and commercial complex. On the east, facing Dufferin Street, and replacing the existing fast-food stores, will be an eight story retail/commercial building.

Towering from these two massive pedestals will be four apartment towers—39 and 34 stories on the west and 23 and 14 stories on the east. There will be 1,135 rental units: 117 bachelor, 452 one bedroom, 461 two bedroom, 105 three bedroom.

For comparison, the tallest building at Bloor and Dufferin right now is the New Horizon’s Tower at just 15 stories. The mall towers will be matched with the 40-storey behemoths slated for the school lands.

Primaris Management, which owns Dufferin Mall, is a well-regarded manager and owner of shopping malls. (Dufferin Mall is one of the most profitable malls in the GTA.) Quadrangle and Urban Strategies have been involved in the building of a number of Toronto landmarks. Both should be ashamed of their squinted vision for the Dufferin Mall apartments, which will be a major addition to our community.

The massive six and eight story pedestal buildings proposed in their submission, hulk over Dufferin and Croatia Streets. There is no set-back to the pedestal buildings, no extra space for sidewalks and people.

Neither Primaris nor Urban Strategies wants such a desolate, cramped area. They well know that retail success for the businesses which will rent space along Dufferin and Croatia Streets will demand space for people to shop and dine and stroll.

The only reason developers make applications to build to the legal limit is to game the planning system.

Here’s how the con works: a developer proposes building right to the limits of what is allowed: the community complains: developer agrees to a setback: and then claim they have listened to the community or city planning department so should be allowed to overbuild the property. The con works every time.

Don’t believe me? Then believe what Urban Strategies wrote about Dufferin Commons.

That’s the name the Urban Strategies has attached to the patch of “nature” they have devoted to park space. Located at the entrance to Dufferin Mall, the “park” or “commons” is roughly the size of Micheli’s Garden centre, which sets up each spring to sell bedding plants. (There is no recognition that west-end Toronto is one of the most green-space deficient areas in the GTA.)

In its formal application for city permission to exceed our planning policies Urban Strategies admits the minuscule park space “also lends itself (to) act as an improved transit-waiting area along the 29 Dufferin route.”

That’s great: Instead of adding to our parkland we’ll get a nice bus station. We’ll all be comfortable waiting for the Dufferin 29 bus: if it ever comes and isn’t overcrowded due to the new condo and apartment developments.

Still not convinced? Consider the paucity of three-bedroom apartments. Just 10% of the proposal is for three-bedroom apartments. Three-bedroom apartments are family friendly: two kids, each with their own bedroom or a bedroom for an aging parent. Local families looking for bigger apartments won’t ever be able to afford Dufferin Grove Common if all of the three-bedroom apartments are clustered in the  luxury penthouses of the four towers.

Shouldn’t the community have expected better from Primaris, Quadrangle and Urban Strategies?

-Joe McAllister