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.

 

 

Generally speaking, our neighbourhood is a walkers’ paradise.  But surprisingly, a publicly available scoring system can add nuance from one street to the next; even from one house number to the next.  You can read the Globe and Mail article here and see how many steps you have to go.

Bloor West Village is a special place but remains within a big city.  The Canadian Urban Institute is a non-profit applied research organization dedicated to achieving healthy urban development.  We’ve added a link to their web site, on the right.  Check it out to see interesting stories and media about the broader urban community we’re part of.

…as the song lyrics go.  Our BWVRA signs are starting to appear everywhere and they’re going fast.  If you support our involvement with the Humber Theatre development, show it by getting sign.  Just email us at info@bwvra.ca with your address.  Thank you.

The Bloor West Village Residents’ Association is a group of resident volunteers committed to fostering a well-balanced and liveable community, both now and into the future. Our neighbourhood is currently facing an urgent challenge with a proposed development on the site of the Humber Theatre.

The Theatre sits on a landmark site with most of the stores now empty and windows papered over, awaiting development. Renewal of this block is urgently needed and the BWVRA supports responsible re-development that respects the existing scale and character of the immediate neighbourhood.

Read More

Jane Jacobs has inspired more than one generation to take action in defence of the neighbourhoods they value.  If you missed the screening of Citizen Jane at the Revue Cinema, here’s a link to a review on Variety: http://variety.com/2016/film/reviews/citizen-jane-review-doc-nyc-1201916211/

Christopher Hume had a long piece about the renovated Runnymede library branch in the Toronto Star on June 2. Here are some excerpts:

TPL’s latest triumph, the newly renovated and expanded Runnymede Branch, reopens at 4:30 p.m. on June 8. The original building, designed in the 1920s by noted Canadian architect John Lyle, has been refurbished and a new wing added by Toronto architect Bruce Stratton.

Libraries have changed, too. “They’re a little less precious now than they used to be,” says City Librarian Josephine Bryant. “We want people to come in and feel relaxed. We want them to see inside and out. We’ve learned that architecture is extremely important. We could build more cheaply, but this way we end up with a much better product.”

As TPL’s director of branches, Anne Bailey, points out, every time a branch gets a new or renovated building, membership increases by 30 to 40 per cent.

“Our buildings have to be functional,” she says, “but they also have to be visionary and responsive to the community. Here, we’ve tried to make the library much more open, airy, spacious and inviting. Even though we had to work within a restricted budget, we’re very happy with the results.”

Read the entire article on the Toronto Star website (requires free registration)