1990 Bloor Street West Objections

The City of Toronto has received a proposal from North Drive Investments Inc. for two properties owned by the proponent, and located at 26 Parkview Gardens (a detached two storey house occupied by an office), and 1990 Bloor Street West (a 3 storey 24 unit apartment building). The proponent is appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board for permission to erect a 11 storey mixed use building that is 35.91 metres in height, with a 5 metre mechanical penthouse (total 40.61 metres). The building will contain 108 residential units – including 24 replacement rental units – in addition to a 324 square metre at-grade commercial/retail floor space. The building will also hold 73 below-grade parking spaces for cars, and 125 bicycle spaces.

The city has released a detailed report outlining its objections to the current application.

Summary: “Although some modifications to the original proposal have been made, as represented by the revised proposal, staff continue to have concerns with the proposal, and recommend that City Council direct staff to oppose the revised development.”

You can read the report on the original 12 storey application.

Summary: “It is staff’s opinion the proposal represents an over-development of the site. The proposed building does not provide adequate transition to its surroundings, resulting in shadow impacts on Neighbourhoods designated properties, the Parkview Gardens Parkette to the north and the Parkview Gardens public realm. Further, the proposed building height, mass and density are not in keeping with the existing or planned context for this segment of Bloor Street West, nor recently approved developments in the surrounding area.”

1990 Bloor Street West Objections

The proposal has met opposition from residents for these reasons:

The proposal’s failure to meet City of Toronto planning objectives establishes an undesirable precedent

The Bloor West Village has several unique features – one of which is a complete absence of high rise multiple residential buildings. No residential building of any type is greater than 8 storeys(25 metres), and all residential buildings up to 8 storeys conform to municipal plans, guides and standards. North Drive’s proposed 12 storey tower will replace an older, 3 storey building (one of many similar buildings in its portfolio) on what is frequently called a “soft” (i.e. candidate for redevelopment) site. There are likely 15 similar sites between High Park Avenue and South Kingsway, and permitting one blockbuster 12 storey will open the door to similar – or taller – developments.

The proposal’s height, scale and intensity are incompatible with the neighbourhood

On May 22nd, 2008 planning staff wrote the City of Toronto Etobicoke York Community Council:

Bloor West Village currently functions as a very successful “main street” within the City. It serves as a focal point for the local residents and has a successful Business Improvement Area business association. Bloor Street West is designated Mixed Use in the Official Plan and identified as an “Avenue”. Most of it is subject to existing mixed-use zoning that would permit up to five storeys (emphasis added) of mixed commercial/residential development. Presently, much of the street consists of two-storey mixed commercial/residential uses with commercial at grade and residential or commercial above.

The framework for reviewing redevelopment proposals in the City is provided through the Provincial Policy Statement, which encourages urban intensification, among other policies, and the City’s Official Plan. As noted, Bloor Street West is identified, in the Official Plan as an “Avenue”. Avenues are “– important corridors along major streets where reurbanization can create new housing and jobs while improving the pedestrian environment, the look of the street, shopping opportunities and transit service for community residents.” The Plan calls for Avenue Studies to be done so that a “–framework for change will be tailored to the situation of each Avenue”.

Toronto’s Official Plan indicates new development should be located so it fits within an existing, planned context. It should frame and support adjacent streets, parks and open spaces, create transitions in scale, provide for adequate light and privacy, limit shadowing and uncomfortable wind conditions. Toronto’s Avenues and Mid-Rise statement indicates the height of a development (at the street line) should not exceed 21.5 metres with a 45° degree angular plane to a maximum height of 27 metres, or 24 metres with a 45° angular plane to a maximum height of 30 metres. It also states that the transition to the neighbourhood to the rear should have a minimum setback of 7.5 metres, and a 45° angular plane from the property line to the maximum height of the right of way.

North Drive’s proposal does not fit the existing context of Bloor West Village, or meet any of the height, setback, nor angular planes, that we have described, and that the City of Toronto requires. Its suggested “Floor Space Index” at 8.5 times vastly exceeds the area of the lot.

The proposal’s parking supply is inadequate

The 67 below-grade parking spaces for cars proposed by North Drive barely exceed 50% of the 131 residential units. This formula will flood the neighbouring streets with cars and service vehicles.

The proposal does not conform with Toronto’s “Avenues and Mid-Rise Building Study Performance Standards”.

In 2010, the City of Toronto launched a process that would define mid-rise buildings in relation to the roads and avenues alongside them. It is a well researched and articulate exposition of a development principle that simply put, says a mid-rise building should be no taller than the width of the publicly owned portion of the street next to it (the right-of-way). North Drive’s proposal fails this test. It is 4 storeys higher than the performance standard. Furthermore, a mid-rise should be designed with step-backs (imagine a terrace) at upper levels, so the building doesn’t appear too tall in relation to the street, and so air, sunlight and views are not blocked or obscured. Both the street and side walls of North Drive’s proposal fail to meet the performance standard.

The proposal sheds negative impacts on the neighbourhood and public open space north of its site

Both sun and shadow studies indicate that neighbours on Parkview Gardens, and users of the Parkview Gardens parkette, at certain times of the year will rest in the dark. (This is a sad reality, not just a bad pun).

Throughout the public consultation period there has been no discussion of landscaping, community benefits, and/or public art opportunities

The physical base of North Drive’s proposed building occupies the entire footprint of 26 Parkview Gardens, and 1990 Bloor Street West. As a result, the developer will not landscape anything other than the publicly-owned approach to the condominium – in other words, the sidewalk. And just as there is no landscaped content on the developer-owned property, there has similarly been no discussion of community benefits, and/or public art.

There has been little discussion of the potential impact of a combination of increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic on Parkview Gardens between Bloor Street and the entry to the TTC High Park station.

Parkview Gardens is a small crescent that was permanently closed to through traffic during construction of the Bloor Subway between 1972 and 1974. On the south side of the TTC corridor, it is currently shared by transit users entering one end of the High Park TTC platform, and vehicles entering a laneway, and a condominium’s garage. Should the 12 storey proposal proceed, there will be a simultaneous increase in both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Toronto does not have a good record when it comes to pedestrians and vehicles sharing a road (in fact no city does). This is a recipe for disaster.

2000 Bloor Street West

From the city’s Request for Direction Report:

The proposed development would not have an appropriate relationship or transition to abutting building at 2000 Bloor Street West.

The adjacent 4 storey apartment building to the west at 2000 Bloor Street West, has primary windows of residential units facing east towards the mutual side lot line. The existing building with side wall windows should not be negatively impacted by the new development, therefore, a minimum 5.5 m setback to the existing building wall would be appropriate, as outlined in the Mid-Rise Performance Standard.

The proposed development does not provide an adequate side yard setback from the abutting property to the west, which has existing windows facing the mutual side lot line. Further, an outdoor amenity area is proposed on the second floor in close proximity to a number of these existing windows.