You already know that your Bloor West Village Residents Association has been working tirelessly over the past number of years to preserve and protect the special qualities of Bloor West Village that we all value and enjoy every day. The initiatives have included successful challenges to several inappropriate over-sized development proposals, along with our continuing efforts to have effective planning controls put in place for Bloor Street through the Village.

Your Association has also hosted many highly popular all-candidate debates and Janes Walks and our website continues to record thousands of visits every year, indicating that our Bloor West Village residents really care about and want to know, what’s going on! BUT…none of this would have been possible without the many dedicated volunteers who have served on our Board of Directors to help organize the various initiatives that have made BWVRA so relevant to our community.

THE PROBLEM IS…as with any volunteer organization there is always on-going attrition, usually due to family responsibilities, career demands and relocations. Over the past year, a number of our Board Members have had to move on, leaving us with an inadequate number of Directors to carry on with our regular activities.

WE NEED YOUR HELP…and by taking on an active role with your Association you will gain a broad perspective on civic and local issues and a meaningful way to give something back to your community! To learn more about us you could go to our website at www.bwvra.ca or, better yet, give me a call at 416-762-0912!

Jamie Isbister, Chair BWVRA

* Toronto Life Survey, 2018

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.

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted an update on the Humber Theatre Proposal, but that doesn’t mean the BWVRA hasn’t been busy!  Quite the opposite!  Your Association, along with the four other parties to the proceedings, has had several productive discussions with the developer.  Progress is being made and there is optimism that a negotiated settlement may be within reach.  The developer has been meeting with us on a “without prejudice” basis which means, unfortunately, we are unable to make any public disclosure of our progress.  We’re hopeful that we’ll be in a position to provide more details in time for our Annual General Meeting on May 10th, which will feature one of our always successful Candidate Debates, in advance of the upcoming Provincial Election.  We thank you again for your continuing support!

Neighbourhood Character Guidelines for Bloor West Village

First of all, a big thank you (again), to everyone who responded to our survey last October.  The exceptionally high response rate of nearly 50 % of the households that were contacted, indicates how much we care about the look and feel of our neighbourhoods.   As importantly, the feedback received helped to inform the recommendations of the concurrent study which is now complete and posted here for your information.

For those who are not familiar with this initiative, the Bloor West Village Neighbourhood Character Guidelines project was carried out as the first step to assist the City in implementing guidelines that  will help ensure that future large home renovations and re-builds respect and reinforce the existing  character of our neighbourhoods. The study area which coincided with the BWVRA catchment area, was bordered by Bloor Street to the south, Quebec Avenue to the east, Annette Street and Humberview Road to the north, and the Humber River to the west.

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The 2nd Pre-Hearing Conference took place last week on February 8th, at which representatives for the developer and the five Parties to the Appeal, reiterated their interest in a Board-assisted Mediation process.  However, the presiding Board Member, citing the current overwhelming workload and lack of capacity at the OMB, was once again unable to offer a date for this to take place.  Even more significantly, no assurances were given that the Board would be able to assist in Mediation within the foreseeable future.  Instead, the Board Member offered a 3rd Pre-Hearing Conference scheduled for June 28th, 2018.

Plazacorp’s lawyer then declared that his client would be willing to engage in discussions directly with the five Parties in an effort to converge on a revised proposal that would be satisfactory to everyone prior to June 28th.  Should this initiative succeed, the expectation is that the 3rd Pre-Hearing Conference could then be converted to a Settlement Hearing.  If no agreement is reached by then, the Developer could request more time for informal negotiations, ask again for an OMB-assisted Mediation or, as a last resort, request a date for a Contested Hearing.

In view of the inability of the OMB to assist in a negotiated settlement, BWVRA remains cautiously optimistic that frank and productive discussions will take place with the Developer over the next several months.  To help facilitate this dialogue, our Association will also be reaching out to the Swansea Area Ratepayers Association (SARA) to explore issues that we have in common, and if possible, present a united front on behalf of all the residents of Bloor West Village.

 

 

In the meantime, you may have noticed the new “You Asked?” section on our website, where we share frequently asked questions and responses to them. We continue to encourage your feedback which is crucial to informing the positions your Association will be representing in the up-coming negotiations.

  • If you aren’t already a member in good standing, please consider joining
  • Donate to help us reach our new target of $30,000
  • Attend the fundraiser preview performance of the mystery play “Tainted Justice” at the Village Playhouse on March 1st, 8:00 PM

Why is the BWVRA concerned only with the height and bulk of the proposed Humber Theatre development and not with the quality of the building architecture?

Our Association is acutely aware of the opportunity this highly visible location at the western end of the Village presents for a special landmark building incorporating distinctive architecture and high quality exterior finishes.  Unfortunately the Planning Act of Ontario, that sets out the rules for regulating new development, provides our City Planners with very limited authority, and no effective opportunities for residents, to influence the architectural details and the quality of the finishes on any given proposal.  Therefore, these important aspects of a development are left almost entirely to the discretion of the proponent.

However, the Planning Act does empower municipalities, communities within them as well as individual residents, with considerable latitude to influence the ultimate built form of new developments.  Therefore, this is what decisions to approve or not approve, at both City Council and the OMB, are usually all about. So that is where BWVRA focuses its efforts, when we believe that a proposed re-development does not respect the pedestrian-friendly scale and mid-rise context of Bloor West Village.

Our goal of $20,000 has been achieved!

On behalf of the Bloor West Village Residents Association, we are very pleased to announce that we have achieved our goal of $20,000 by January 31st!  In the past week we received an additional twenty donations that took us over the top!  This money will be crucial in helping to cover the costs leading up to next week’s OMB Hearing and beyond.  Thank you, once again, to everyone who has stepped up and supported us in the campaign to date!

Does the BWVRA support the re-opening of Riverview Gardens north-bound from the South Kingsway?

The decision to close the north-bound access to Riverview Gardens was made as a concession to the Old Mill neighbourhood at the time when the # 1 and #2 Old Mill condo proposals were approved a number of years ago.  This closure was negotiated by the now defunct Old Mill Residents Association in response to an emerging problem of traffic short-cutting through the Old Mill neighbourhood, which was expected to become even worse with the realignment of the intersection.  As a result of this measure, Riverview Gardens was restored to its historical function as a local residential street with moderate traffic levels.

In the meantime, should the currently proposed Humber Theatre re-development proceed, it is recognized that traffic may increase substantially on the public laneway behind #1 and #2 Old Mill, as it would be the most direct access to that building for traffic from the south. BWVRA supports any initiative that encourages the City to have this issue properly re-assessed and to prescribe a solution that ensures there will be no significant increase in traffic levels on the residential streets within the Old Mill neighbourhood.

A big “THANK YOU” to those of you who included a donation to the Save Our Village fundraising campaign on your To-Do List last month!  In December, we raised just over $4,300 which has helped take us closer to our $20,000 goal.  We still have a ways to go, so please help us with your donation by clicking here, and also let us know if you’d like a lawn sign to show your support.