Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Presentation on the Bloor/Durie development in Bloor West Village #parkhp #topoli

Updated (Friday August 14th, 7:30 p.m.) below.

Hello all! It's been a while here at the blog. Apologies. I hope to get back to posting more regularly in the near future. 

I wanted to post my speaking notes from today on an issue that came before the Etobicoke York Community Council. As you will note from my previous blog entry, I have been involved with residents here in Parkdale-High Park for a few years now on development proposals. It's a huge issue in the riding. The latest significant challenge is represented by the proposed development at the corner of Bloor & Durie in the heart of Bloor West Village ("BWV"). While my notes will go into a bit of detail on the entire issue, I just wanted to highlight what essentially happened at council today.

This development is of great concern to the residents of BWV, Swansea, Old Mill, South Kingsway and High Park. The development proposal was scheduled to be heard at the Ontario Municipal Board in the near future (date unknown). But Council agreed today - essentially adopting the motion found below - to seek an adjournment of that development hearing until a properly done public study can be undertaken of the Bloor West Village area. That is potentially quite significant should the OMB - as it rightfully should - listen to this message from the City.

This could mean that BWV will be developed coherently, driven by a public study process that will now keep at bay the one-off developer driven proposals such as this one at Bloor & Durie.

Here's hoping and I know the residents will remain vigilant to ensure it happens in the right way. Notes follow.
Speaking notes for Tues, Aug 12th – Etobicoke York Community Council
2265-2279 Bloor Street West and 116 and 240 Durie Street – Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-law Amendment, Rental Housing Demolition & Conversion Applications

Councillors, City Staff & members of the community, my name is Nancy Leblanc. I am a resident of Swansea, residing just a few blocks away from the proposed Bloor West Village development that is before the council today for consideration.

I support the position of the neighbourhood resident associations who are opposing this development and am appearing today on their behalf. Those resident associations are: the Bloor West Village Residents Association, the Old Mill Community Association, Swansea Area Ratepayers Association and the South Kingsway Neighbourhood Committee. Many of their members are here today.

I would respectfully ask of this Council that you support the residents of this neighbourhood community in their opposition to this development. Specifically, I would request that the following motion be moved, considered and supported by this Council:
1. Be it resolved that the Staff Report dated August 1st, 2014 be deferred for consideration until a properly done public Area Study can be undertaken by the City in respect of Bloor West Village that will set out detailed guidelines for future development.

2. Be it further resolved that this Council authorize the City Solicitor to request an adjournment of any date obtained before the Ontario Municipal Board in respect of this development until a properly done public Area Study can be undertaken by the City in respect of Bloor West Village that will set out detailed guidelines for future development, and until that study and its conclusions are subject to public review and comment, and until that study is adopted by City Council as set out in the Official Plan.
This staff report should be deferred for many reasons. We have little to lose by doing so, and much to gain.

This application is being supported by a study completed by the proponent which, to no one's surprise, is basically in support of the proposed development.

But - The basic principle which the residents seek is to ensure that Bloor West Village be developed through a plan driven by the public interest – not private – and in a manner that recognizes its unique historical characteristics and its present day character as a landmark west Toronto village. Study the village as a whole - then decide how it should be intensified and densified.

The character of the Bloor West Village strip is unique. There is a careful balance between the Mixed Use commercial areas along Bloor and the stable Neighbourhoods that abut Bloor. It is a flat stretch that to date has been undisturbed by high developments except to its peripheries on the east and west, in lower grade areas toward the Humber River and High Park where height impact is somewhat lessened. The storefronts date to the 1920s and 30s. Yet the Staff Report before us today maps out a future for the Village that will disrupt this character and historic balance, that will penetrate a stable Neighbourhood street, and that will set a poor precedent for development of the heart of Bloor West Village. It opens the door to a series of negotiated one-off developments, jammed into the heart of Bloor West Village without the proper studies having been done.

For example - There is no Avenue study that has been undertaken of Bloor West Village. According to the Official Plan, development requiring a rezoning – as this proposal does – will not be allowed to proceed prior to completion of an Avenue Study unless a review is undertaken that demonstrates to Council’s satisfaction that subsequent development of the entire Avenue segment will have no adverse impacts within the context and parameters of this review.” (

Further, the Official Plan requires that any development preceding an Avenue study must be shown to “contribute to an attractive, safe and comfortable pedestrian environment that encourages walking and strengthens local retailing” ( (c)).

Yet as one resident has put it, quite well, this proposal will:
“have an adverse impact on the pedestrian environment by inserting a much taller street wall rising straight up from the street 7 stories before the step-back in a block of predominantly two story storefronts. The height and massing will create a large monolithic structure than looms over and oppresses the visual environment within the heart of the district and replaces lively, pedestrian oriented, fine-grained commercial facades with a bland, undifferentiated row of shops with identical materials and design that are less variable, legible and attractive.”
A publicly driven area Study is therefore required before such one-off developments, supported by segmented studies, are inserted on a jarring basis that break up the character of Bloor West Village.

A deferral of this Staff Report is also warranted given that a Heritage Conservation District Nomination has been sought for Bloor West Village. In 2008, City Council identified Bloor West Village as an area warranting analysis as a Heritage Conservation District. Some of the heritage considerations include:
The buildings, dating from the 1920s and 30s;

Bloor West Village was the first Business Improvement Area in the world;

The historical connection to immigration from Eastern Europe, including the location of an annual Ukrainian festival which is the largest in North America
To prematurely consider a development in the heart of the Village without allowing for a Heritage process to be completed would be inappropriate.

Another important factor for this Council to consider is the Swansea Secondary Plan that governs the Durie Street properties sought to be included in this development. The Swansea Secondary Plan specifically provides that
“where the Zoning By-law permits apartment buildings in areas designated as Neighbourhoods, any apartment building will respect the zoned height and density limits.”
This means that any development proposal that penetrates the Durie Neighbourhood, governed by the Swansea Secondary Plan, must respect the zoned height and density limits of the Neighbourhood. That is, 0.6 times the area of the lot. The Staff Report is rightfully concerned that these physically “stable” neighbourhood areas are sought to be used to support a mixed-use development.


In conclusion, we ask this Community Council to support the residents, defer consideration of the Staff report before you today and seek an adjournment of any scheduled OMB hearing in respect of this development. The future development of Bloor West Village deserves a proper public study - after which decisions can be made to intensify and densify the area, in accordance with its unique history and village characteristics.

Thank you.

Update (Friday August 14, 7:30 pm): Please also see the Save Our Village website for more information on the 2265 Bloor hearing and other developments in the Bloor West area.