We’re guessing that most residents would agree with Toronto Life’s ranking of Bloor West Village as the best neighbourhood in the city! It’s well-deserved and we are fortunate to have a number of attributes that make it so attractive and livable including:

• A vibrant main street shopping area
• Mature, stable residential streets
• Top public schools
• Walkability to all the essentials of daily life
• Excellent access to public transit, and
• An abundance of parks and other public spaces

But being fortunate doesn’t mean being entitled. These advantages cannot be taken for granted and despite the Toronto Life score, they can be threatened by:

• Inappropriate out-of-scale urban intensification
• Inadequate planning tools to guide renewal and growth
• Lack of City resources to properly maintain our parks and tree canopy, and
• Market forces and property taxes that penalize main street retailers

The good news is that we have a lot of engaged residents who can take some credit for how great our village is today! You are showing up at public meetings by the hundreds to express your concerns about inappropriate development proposals. You are challenging monster home proposals all the way to TLAB, Toronto’s appeal tribunal, and sending a message that this type of renewal is not encouraged in Bloor West Village. You are supporting the work of the BWVRA as a member and a donor when called upon. You are supporting other vital organizations such as Green 13 to ensure our tree canopy and public open spaces are protected and enhanced. And, you are shopping locally to ensure our retail main street prospers and survives as the anchor of our village.

As one of the strongest collective voices in our area, let’s keep it up! The BWVRA is always looking for energetic, committed residents to contribute their ideas and talents as members of our Board.

Do you have some time to become involved? We’d love to hear from you about your interests and how you would like to help! Please click here to learn more.

An important meeting will be taking place at which the City’s moves to limit the proposed 7-towers in the area north of nearby High Park will be outlined. Here are the details:

Thursday, November 8th, 7-9pm
Grenadier Retirement Residence (2100 Bloor Street West)

Shahrzad Davoudi, an urban designer who participated in the Character Study Working Group will outline the City’s High Park Apartment Neighbourhood Area Urban Design Guidelines and provide an update on the developers’ attempts to challenge those guidelines at the OMB.

There will be a discussion on what would be allowed under those limits, and what the community would want included in counter-proposals from the High Park Community Alliance based on the priorities and needs of local residents. Outgoing Councillor Sarah Doucette, who has been instrumental in fighting for these limits, will also attend. The meeting will be used to honour Sarah for her contributions. The newly-elected Ward 14 Councillor, Gord Perks, has also been invited to attend.

Most if not all of you have walked passed Ling’s gift shop on Bloor Street. Mr. Alex Ling, an individual known to many as a champion of BIAs not only here in Toronto but nationally and internationally, passed away on September 24th.

Born on November 29, 1933, Mr. Ling was a key part in the group of local business owners who created and established the Bloor West Village BIA, the first BIA in the world. The success of the first BIA, Bloor West Village, inspired other retail districts to follow and become BIAs themselves. Today, there are 83 BIAs in the City of Toronto, and over 400 across the Province of Ontario. The BIA concept has been emulated throughout Canada, the United States and across the globe.

About Alex

Alex Ling (Alexander Edward Ling) and his wife Helen moved to the Bloor West Village in Toronto in 1971. They thought they wouldn’t be so busy; however that was not the case. Alex became involved in the BIA right away. He was first elected as Chairperson in 1979 and worked very hard for the Bloor West Village BIA and the neighbourhood.

In the early 1980’s, with the help of City Hall, he started the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) to give support to all BIAs in the City of Toronto. Alex ate and slept the BIA philosophy. He loved the work and the challenge of the job. He was TABIA’s President for 19 years and in 2001 he finally engineered himself to Past President. In 2004 Alex became Chairman of the Bloor West Village BIA by promising to continue to help out, staying on as a Board Member.

He was also the pioneer and the driving force behind the Solar Powered Conversion of the Tree Lighting and Gas Lanterns in Bloor West Village. They have since retired 45 hydro meters from the Tree Lighting Program – no more hydro bills, and no more burning of fossil fuel from the Gas Lanterns! They will soon have a total of 60 Solar Powered Gas-style Lanterns in the Village.

Alex was constantly championing and working for the cause of small business. He was instrumental in acquiring a lower discount rate for Merchant VISA and MasterCard for his members. He has worked with a number of insurance companies on group insurance for small business, as well as natural gas rebates for business and residents.

 

In our August update, the community was informed that both the City and BWVRA had no further objections to Developer’s most recent revised proposal and that the Developer was unwilling to engage in Mediation with the remaining three Parties to the proceedings at LPAT (Local Planning Appeals Tribunal).    Under the circumstances, these Parties were given until mid-August to either provide a list of their remaining issues or withdraw. A fourth Pre-Hearing Conference was then scheduled, which took place on September 5th, by which time SARA (Swansea Area Ratepayer’s Association) had withdrawn, leaving two Parties, Arbor Memorial and Dennis Maslo (an adjacent owner on Humbercrest Trail) with unresolved objections to the proposal. Their issues relate largely to private property rights and are not of any concern to BWVRA.

In any event, on September 5th it became clear that the only remaining path to a conclusion of the Appeal would be a Contested Hearing which has been scheduled for April 23rd to 26th, 2019.  This Hearing will deal specifically with the objections of the two remaining Parties. However, there is considerable uncertainty and debate about whether or not those matters are even admissible for adjudication at a Hearing. It is also entirely possible that the Developer may reach a settlement with these two Parties prior to the Hearing , in which case the first Hearing date on April 23rd would likely be converted to a Settlement Hearing.

Will Participants from the community still have an opportunity to express their personal opinions?

Regardless of whatever the situation is by April 23rd, those Participants that initially registered to speak at the time of the very first Pre-Hearing Conference back in September 2017 may also attend and present their personal views on the proposal. Other members of the public may also register to speak by contacting the LPAT Case Coordinator. However, in order to speak at the Hearing, ALL Participants are required to submit their written Participant Statements by February 1, 2019 to:

Tamara Zwarycz, Case Coordinator LPAT Case PL170556

Tamara.Zwarycz@Ontario.ca

416 326-6790

Leading up to the Hearing in April 2019, what will BWVRA need to do?

As our Association has already agreed to the current revised proposal and the remaining issues are not of any direct concern to the community, our lawyer will only be monitoring and periodically reporting to us on the proceedings.

In the meantime our new Councilor, after the upcoming election, will be briefed at the earliest opportunity on our remaining concerns related to traffic and the re-design of the corner at Bloor Street and Riverview Gardens.  We will then be relying on our Councilor’s Office to keep our community informed on how City Staff and the Developer are resolving the numerous anticipated traffic impacts from this proposed development.  In addition, we will be expecting Staff to follow through on Council’s direction to consult with the community on an appropriate re-design of the afore-mentioned street corner.

That’s a picture of the Lawrence Avenue West bridge above, which was washed away… 81 people died in the greater Toronto area on October 16, 1954 and almost 4,000 were left homeless. Eerily, Hurricane Hazel actually followed a path very similar to the recent Hurricane Florence that hit the US last week.

Toronto Field Naturalists, in partnership with Heritage York, is organizing a local walk down memory lane, literally. Join Madeleine McDowell on this historical walk along the Humber River between Old Mill Station and Lambton House (4066 Old Dundas Street). The walk has steep stairs down to the path and a 2.6 km walk along the river banks where Hurricane Hazel flooded the bridge and shores. The walk also includes historical pictures and a cup of tea at Lambton House.

  • Date: Saturday, October 13, 2018
  • Time: 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM
  • Place: Old Mill TTC Station
  • Leader: Madeleine McDowell

In our last update, we informed the community that a much improved proposal had been submitted by the Developer in late April, which has now become public information. Fortunately, most of BWVRA’s concerns with the previous proposals had been satisfactorily addressed in this latest submission with the exception of these two issues:

  • Minimizing potential traffic impacts on the neighbourhood
  • Resolving neighbourhood concerns about excessive wind impacts and pedestrian safety at the corner of Riverview Gardens & Bloor Street

With regard to potential traffic impacts, the main concern has been about the very large overall amount of retail space being proposed (approx. 5,000 sq. m.), and the Developer’s unwillingness to accept any restrictions on individual store sizes.  We had asked for a limit of 1,750 square meters, as recommended in the recently completed Avenue study, which is a little bit larger than the No-Frills store in the Village but much smaller than a typical Loblaws, Metro or Sobeys.  The main issue with a high-volume “big-box” store at this location is the potential impact from excessive traffic, it would be almost certain to generate, on the local street network that is already stretched to its limit.

The second issue about wind impacts and pedestrian safety mainly relates to the proposed removal of the more heavily used sidewalk beside the building on the Riverview Gardens frontage and the proposed retention of the sidewalk next to the road, which is considered unsafe by many local residents.

 

 

In any case, these two remaining issues were not considered deal breakers and our Board was anticipating that the third Pre-hearing Conference on June 28th would set the stage for the Mediation sessions scheduled for September 4 & 5.   However, much to our surprise and that of the other three Parties, at the Pre-hearing Conference, it was announced that City Council, at its meeting two days earlier and on the recommendation of Planning Staff, made the decision to accept the Developer’s latest proposal.

In addition, the lawyer for the Developer also informed the Pre-hearing that his client was no longer interested in participating in Mediation sessions with the remaining four Parties.  As Mediation is voluntary and all Parties must agree to participate, regretfully, this decision effectively put an end to the opportunity for us to participate in a Mediated Settlement.

Under these circumstances, as the only path forward, the four Parties have been given until August 17th to either also settle on the current proposal or present their outstanding issues to the Developer along with the names of the expert witnesses they will call upon should the Appeal proceed to a Contested Hearing.

But there is good news on our two remaining issues!

  • On the question of Traffic impacts, in its recent comments on the Developer’s up-dated traffic study, City Traffic staff has been especially critical of the consultant’s findings. In particular, it was noted that there has been no recognition or assessment of the potential additional traffic that may be generated by retail stores in the development, and the capacity of the local street network to accommodate it.  After reviewing the staff Memorandum, our Board is satisfied that the City has the traffic issue in hand and the proposed development will not be allowed proceed until staff is satisfied that there will be no significant impact on the local streets.
  • With respect to the Riverview Gardens frontage, at the same time as Council agreed to settle with the Developer, Councillor Doucette was able to have a motion passed directing staff to consult with the community during the Site Plan review process, in order to arrive at an acceptable design for that corner.

In view of the very substantial progress on these issues, at a meeting on July 20th our Board made the decision to also accept the current proposal, however, we will retain our standing as a Party to the proceedings, just in case any or all of the other Parties do not agree to settle by the target date of August 17th, which could then lead to a Contested Hearing.

 

 

With warm, summer weather clearly here, the City of Toronto is reminding Bloor West Village residents that they can track their water use online with MyWaterToronto, the City’s online water use tool. You can use the tool to track your water use by day, week, month or year. The tool can also be used to identify prolonged and unexplained water use increases, which could mean you have a leak. Or maybe left a tap on… You will need your utility bill to sign on to the tool.

Visit toronto.ca/mywatertoronto.

Since the first Pre-hearing Conference at the OMB last September, two revised “without prejudice” proposals have been presented to the Parties by the developer. The BWVRA Board of Directors was particularly encouraged by the latest version provided in March, in which there were very significant reductions in the building height and massing. As is the case with all “without prejudice” proposals in a negotiation, the substance of these proposals remains confidential between the Parties. However, the developer, apparently assuming that it is close to arriving at a scheme that the various Parties (including the BWVRA) will find acceptable, has recently submitted an application for Site Plan Approval to the City. As a quick reference, the two architect’s perspectives below have been extracted from this submission:

Why is this significant? The Site Plan application drawings, which very closely resemble the most recent “without prejudice” proposal, are now on the public record, and by reviewing these drawings you should have a good understanding of how the negotiations have progressed to this point.

From the perspective of the BWVRA Board, the most important improvements in the current proposal, as compared to the initial submission to City Planning that also remains under appeal at the OMB, are:

  • The average overall height of the building has been reduced from approximately 47 m. to 35 m., or the equivalent of 4 residential floors (this is just marginally higher than the 32 m. height approved back in 2008 for the original Humber Theatre proposal)
  • The gross floor area has been reduced from 31, 645 sq. m. to 28, 596 sq. m.
  • There are approximately 44 fewer condo units.
  • There are 87 fewer underground parking spaces.

While these revisions represent the very substantial progress that has been made toward a potential settlement, the following issues remain to be resolved:

  • Minimizing potential traffic impacts on the neighbourhood
  • Neighbourhood concerns about pedestrian safety and excessive wind impacts at the corner of Riverview Gardens

In the mean time, your feedback continues to be very important, and we welcome any thoughts you may have on the current proposal as reflected on the Site Plan drawings.

City Planning has posted DTAH’s Final Report on the Bloor West Village Avenue Study on the City’s Web page. Please see the link below. City Planning Report which provides an overview of DTAH’s report and next steps is anticipated to go to the June 6, 2018 Etobicoke York Community Council meeting.

https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/planning-studies-initiatives/bloor-west-village-avenue-study/