Full text Catherine Nasmith OCAtoronto.ca
July 3, 2018
Members Toronto East York Community Council ARCHITECTURAL tevcctoronto.ca CONSERVANCY TORONTO Members Etobicoke-York Community Council ONTARIO etcctoronto.ca
Re: Development Proposals in the Toronto Junction
Agenda Items No. EY 32.2 2978-2988 Dundas Street West and 406-408 Pacific Avenue – Zoning By-law Amendment and Rental Housing Demolition and Conversion Applications
TE34.8 2639 Dundas Street West – Zoning Amendment Application – Final Report
TE 34.23 2706, 2708, 2710, 2720, and 2730 Dundas Street West – Zoning Amendment Application – Request for Directions Report
We are taking the unusual step of writing simultaneously to two community Councils regarding the future of the Junction Neighbourhood, specifically the main streets at its heart, Dundas, Keele and Annette. We are hoping that Council will put in place a holding bylaw under the Ontario Heritage Act to allow completion of the Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Phase I planning before new development irrevocably changes the historic character of the area.
For years, local residents have been requesting an HCD to protect this most important neighbourhood. Because The Junction was once an independent municipality it contains all elements, relatively intact, of its historic fabric. At long last, City Council has voted to make The Junction HCD a priority, and it is anticipated that the study and plan process will begin very shortly. Unfortunately, the delay in starting has put the City in the difficult position of facing four separate development applications without adequate heritage policies in place to measure the development proposals’ compatibility with the historic fabric.
ACO Toronto has taken a particular interest in the future of the Junction. During the winter and spring of 2018, ACO Toronto worked with Ryerson University’s Urban Planning Department students to explore Tthe Junction neighbourhood, taking a closer look into The Junction’s rich architectural history. Their findings recognized the Junction’s uniqueness in its collection of fine-grained, rhythmic, strikingly individual architectural buildings. These buildings host a number of independent businesses that are the backbone of this community. New development tends to push out these smaller businesses due to the sky-rocketing rents and larger floor plans that are usually only more affordable for larger companies. The Junction is a living, breathing, vibrant area and new development proposal need to consider and capture what makes this community unique and special. The indicators the students selected showed that the existing community has a multitude of activities within the older building stock which have significant value. Any major redevelopments risk eroding the significant physical, social and economic value that is unique to this area.
So often, the success of an area created by the incremental investment of local entrepreneurs attracts larger scale investment, setting the stage for the main streets’ demise. In cities around the world, conservation districts play a role in shaping development to fit and keep what made the area attractive. Toronto is rapidly losing the 19th century commercial fabric that has been the secret of its success for over 206-401 Richmond Street West Toronto ON M5V 3A8 firstname.lastname@example.org 4165984144
www.acotoronto.ca The past Our present Your future a century. Leaving the Junction to the roulette wheel of development applications will lead to the sterilization of one of the city’s last surviving commercial strips.
While the City will be challenged to complete the necessary research and public process to complete both the HCD study and plan within the one year holding period, with community collaboration it can be done. For example, Harbord Village HCD Phase One was completed in one year. ACO Toronto is prepared to continue to devote our scarce resources to research support. We need Toronto City Council to hit the pause button and create a time window to do the planning needed to keep one of Toronto’s most interesting communities for the future to enjoy.
Catherine Nasmith, OAA, FRAIC, CAHP President ACO Toronto
C.C. Mary MacDonald email@example.com Councillor Gord Perks councillor firstname.lastname@example.org Councillor Sarah Doucette councillor email@example.com
relevant explanation text from the Junction HCD group
TE34.23.5 2 July 2018 Councillor Wong Tam, Chair Toronto & East York Community Council Toronto City Hall 2nd floor, West Tower 100 Queen Street West Toronto, ON M5H 2N2 Re: Zoning Amendment for 2706-2730 Dundas Street West — TE34.23 204 High Park (northwest corner of High Park & Humberside) by Dear Toronto & East York Community Council members, photographer, John Huzil (1995) It is my pleasure to write on behalf of The Junction Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Board regarding the Zoning By-law Amendment for 2720 The Junction Dundas Street West. This subject site is an assembly of five properties on the Heritage Conservation District northeast corner of Watkinson Avenue. We concur with a rejecting approval of this application, because in-force policies have been ignored and the proposed building does not conform to retain the heritage character of the Junction streetscape, which then condone The Junction HCD Board exceptions that will set precedent for other redevelopment applications. Jim Baxter Corinne Flitton On July 4th The Junction HCD has another mega-redevelopment project on Catherine Illingworth Tina Leslie the Toronto & East York Community Council meeting agenda, and Ken Sharratt concurrently on the Etobicoke York Community council meeting agenda is a third assembled, multi-property redevelopment project. Website: Attached is a series of three coloured maps that illustrate the cumulative effect www.iunctionhcd.ca of six redevelopment projects scattered throughout our impending heritage district. Any one of these projects establishes an incompatible precedent for Email: other applications, and each has the potential to undermine the character and firstname.lastname@example.org value of The Junction as a heritage district. Together, these redevelopment Mailing address: projects are catastrophic, if implemented as proposed. 2938 Dundas Street West Unit 624 As you may know, this subject property is within The Junction heritage Toronto, ON M6P 1Y8 conservation district; a nomination that was approved by two Community Councils in 2014, and a Phase One Study Area was approved in January 2018. On 13 May 2014 Etobicoke York Community Council nominated several areas, including the Junction Area, for consideration as Heritage Conservation Districts. Community Council directed Planning staff to review the nominations against the criteria for the determination of cultural heritage value and bring forward study authorization reports and consider for prioritization those areas that meet the criteria. The decision is available at: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2014.EY33.39 It was concurrently approved by the Toronto & East York Community Council on 13 May 2014. The decision is available at: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2014.TE32.87 At the 31 January 2018 meeting City Council officially approved The Junction HCD Phase One Study. The HPS report and decision are available at: http: /app.toronto.ca/tmmis /viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2018.P G25.4 Moreover, The Junction was “identified” as a potential heritage district many years before the nomination application was prepared, according to multiple references in city documents and reports. In fact, interest in The Junction as a significant heritage area was noted prior to the mega- city amalgamation. The West Toronto Junction Historical Society (WTJHS) was established in 1980 after the mysterious demolition of the Junction’s historic train platform. A colour map of The Junction HCD and Phase One Study area within the former West Toronto city boundaries is attached. The Junction HCD is intended to be a microcosm of the former West Toronto city that amalgamated with the city of Toronto in 1909. Our vision is to conserve the core of that former city (at the heart of the original village and town), which includes all aspects of society with industrial, commercial and public buildings, and residential properties from the mansions of the gentry (on High Park Avenue) to the houses of professionals and merchants (who lived on St. John’s Road and other neighbourhood streets) and homes of the working class (rail and factory labourers, et al). To achieve that vision, The Junction HCD (former Committee and current Board) has been consistent in its analysis of every redevelopment project within its proposed boundaries, and specifically to adherence of the mid-rise performance standards on our contiguous collection of authentic, fine-grain, heritage (landmark, designated and listed properties) and chorus main street buildings. Our main street ‘Avenue’ is a twenty-metre road width in a designated Character Area; therefore the applicable maximum height is 0.8 of the right-of-way road width, or sixteen-metres (and not one millimetre more) of total height. Planning & Growth Management concluded their consideration of this matter on 11 May 2016; a process that began in 2015 with a review of the mid-rise performance standards, which revealed several unintended consequences created by this built form on the smallest, twenty-metre ‘Avenue’ width. Council approved this and other essential changes to the mid-rise performance standards on 7 June 2016. 2 Incidentally, the original Avenues & Mid-Rise Building Study approved by Council in June 2010, established applicable heights for various Avenue widths, and specifically for our twenty-metre Avenue was five or six storeys. Since applicants are expected to use this document as a framework to develop their plans for a property and planning staff use it to evaluate the applicant’s proposal, then the community should be able to rely on the accuracy of information published in it too. Please refer to the attached excerpt from the Mid-Rise Study performance standards, which was part of an analysis report shared by The Junction HCD with various planning staff. The 2010 in-force policy for any mid-rise built building on a twenty-metre Avenue was always five or six storeys, regardless of a Character Area designation qualifier. Furthermore, the profile of this new building should fit with our typical streetscape patterns of two and three storey buildings. As proposed at 2720 Dundas Street West, there is no cornice or datum line at the third floor with a corresponding step-back, which is also applicable in our Character Area. Instead the proposed building incorrectly selected a cornice line at the fifth floor that does not consider the appropriate heritage cornice lines in The Junction. A five plus storey sheer wall will dominate the nominated heritage buildings across the street, and the fine-grain main street inset doorways are also missing. This intensification project is not incremental and it will ‘diminish and detract from the character, history, cultural heritage values and integrity of the district’ and has the potential to establish precedents that were effectively curtailed by Council decisions to mitigate the unintended consequences from reoccurring on the smallest twenty-metre Avenue road width in Character Areas. Failure to protect a known Character Area and future HCD also contravenes the policies of the Official Plan, and the Provincial Policy Statement. It also disregards the revised Places to Grow (effective 1 July 2017), policy 1 in Section 4.2.7, which states: Cultural heritage resources be conserved in order to foster a sense of place and benefit communities, particularly in strategic growth areas: Moreover, to ensure the contribution of every existing, renovated and new building to complement and enhance the predominant architectural heritage character of the Junction streetscapes, the design attributes and choice of materials is paramount to The Junction HCD and the community we serve. Therefore, The Junction HCD requests inclusion in the Site-Plan process along with the WTJHS. Unfortunately the size and shape of the building is determined at the zoning amendment stage, and unintended consequences that are embedded cannot be undone by the selection of brick colours and other choices relevant to the site-plan issues. 1Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, May 2017, page 48 (print version) or 56 (online version). 3 For more than 100 years the Junction’s heritage architecture was conserved and remained intact, until recently, when the hyper-intensification virus unleased in Toronto has spread to infect our historic Junction neighbourhood and now threatens the existence of our HCD. Our expectation of sensible, “moderate” and respectful, “context sensitive” intensification has been proven to be false, due to the implementation failure of the mid-rise performance standards, which is an ongoing impediment to our success. We are doing our part to ensure that the provincial policy statement and growth plan, city’s official plan and policies, and mid-rise performance standards are being applied consistently and equitably, we need staff and council members to also ensure that all development applications are held accountable to these same exemplary standards as they have been published and approved. Today “the Junction possesses a small-town charm that is rare in a city as large a Toronto.”2 The Junction is one of a few places that existed and evolved as a complete town, and most of its original heritage fabric remains intact. Inappropriate intensification at this critical juncture undermines the heritage value of the district, and provides an opportunity to establish precedent for other development applications. An excerpt from the Official Plan, Section 3.1.5, affirms that: Our cultural heritage includes both the tangible and intangible values and attributes of the distinct towns, villages, and cities that have come together to create the Toronto we know today. Cultural Heritage is an important component of sustainable development and place making. The preservation of our cultural heritage is essential to the character of this urban and liveable city that can contribute to other social cultural, economic and environmental goals of the City. Conservation of cultural heritage resources not only enriches our lives, it is an important shared responsibility and a prominent civic legacy that we must leave for future generations.
3 The value and contribution of the Junction streetscape as a heritage asset is undeniable. We hope you will deny the applicant approval to proceed with their redevelopment proposal until it complies with the six-storey height maximum and other invaluable performance standards that are applicable in our Character Area.
2 Ryerson University School of Urban and Regional Planning, April 2018, Heritage Conservation Study: The Junction, page 7.
3 Toronto City Planning, (22 June 2015), Official Plan, pages 67-68. Retrieved on 27 July 2016 from http://wwwl.toronto.ca/planning/chaptersl-5.pdf#page=13.
4 Ideally, our Phase One Heritage Study should be expedited, because it will provide the context and policies that are necessary to evaluate all redevelopment applications on our historic main street. The Junction HCD is deeply concerned about these development applications proceeding prior to our heritage study, plan and policies to appropriately inform approvals. As well, The Junction HCD objects to and disagrees with any exceptions in this circumstance and as a normal course of action, because exceptions should be reserved for truly exceptional situations. If T&EYCC members proceed with approval for this redevelopment project, then they are acknowledging that exceptions are being granted for the in-force height standard on a twenty-metre Avenue and other performance standards are also being ignored. The Junction HCD looks forward to joining the city at the OMB pre-hearing scheduled on 2 October 2018. Thank you in advance for all your time and consideration