At the Community Council Meeting on Tuesday, November 14th, Sarah Doucette, along with representatives from the BWVRA and the community, rallied her fellow Councillors in support of a motion to have City Planning and City Legal oppose, at the OMB, the development that’s been proposed for the Humber Theatre site.  The next step will be to have this Motion passed by City Council at their Meeting on December 6th.  Then it’s on to a second Pre-Hearing at the OMB, scheduled for February 7th, that hopefully will lead to a Mediation session rather than a full Hearing.

If you’d like a lawn sign showing your support of our involvement, please send an email to info@bwvra.ca

The majority of those who completed the survey (and the total number exceeded our expectations) have lived in our neighbourhood for over 25 years and boy, do you have some interesting thoughts and ideas on what makes a great neighbourhood.  You can read more by clicking this link.

Proposed Humber Theatre Re-development

On September 28th, the first Pre-hearing Conference at the Ontario Municipal Board offices in Toronto was held regarding the proposed Humber Theatre re-development. During this meeting, all of the Parties and Participants, who have an interest in the proceedings, were identified and the next steps were proposed and agreed upon. The Bloor West Village Residents Association was very capably represented by our legal counsel Paul DeMelo, a highly regarded lawyer at OMB proceedings. We have also retained David Butler, a noted Professional Planner in Toronto, who also brings many years of experience to our team.

It now seems to be common practice at Pre-Hearing Conferences for the OMB to encourage the Parties to explore the potential for “Mediation” as an alternative to a much more involved and costly “Contested Hearing”. Very often the Parties will agree but the Developer will usually also ask for a Hearing Date, should Mediation fail. However, in this case, it was very encouraging that Plazacorp did not make such a request. Instead, it was agreed there will be a second Pre-Hearing Conference on February 7th, 2018, with the understanding that this will lead to Mediation in the Spring, 2018.

In the mean time, our expectation is that the Developer will make a sincere effort to reach out to and consult with all of the Parties and other concerned representatives of the community. Our Association is mobilizing quickly to be a constructive voice for the community when these consultations begin.

But we need YOUR input ….on the kind of re-development the BWVRA should be advocating for on this site!
So please save the date October 30th, 7:00 pm, for a Community Meeting at the Humbercrest United Church Hall on Baby Point Road, just north of the development site.

In 2008, a proposal to re-develop the Humber Theatre site at 2442 Bloor Street West as a 10 Storey mixed-use commercial and residential condominium received approval from the Ontario Municipal Board. That project never proceeded.

Looking west through the Village, Bloor/Jane is one of our most iconic intersections and any development there will have a major influence on the eventual look and feel of our neighbourhood as intensification continues.

  • In January of 2016, Plazacorp, another developer, approached our Councillor, Sarah Doucette, to inform her it planned to submit an application to the City Planning Department for a 14-storey development on the Humber Theatre site and over to Riverview Gardens, from 2442-2454 Bloor Street West.  She asked that it hold a Community Meeting prior to submitting this application, to hear the thoughts and concerns of our residents. This meeting was held on Monday, February 8th at the Humber Theatre with a large group of local residents in attendance. Following that meeting, Plazacorp submitted an application to the City which did not reflect any of the input received from the residents at the meeting.
  • 1st PUBLIC CONSULTATION arranged by City Planning took place on September 29th 2016 at St. Pius X School. Many residents, along with the local Resident Associations, attended this consultation where they shared their views regarding the latest proposal. Overall, the residents thought the proposed building is much too high and massive for the location. They also expressed their concerns related to the potential for increased traffic at an already complicated intersection and their discontent with removal of the theater, which has been a highly valued cultural asset for generations of Village residents. The numerous objections expressed at the meeting did not reflect a categorical rejection by the community of the site’s re-development, but rather that a built form be utilised that respects the local midrise context of Bloor Street and the scale of the immediate residential neighbourhood.As a next step in the approval process, City Planning staff engaged the Design Review Panel.  The DRP’s mandate is to assist Council in fulfilling Official Plan objectives by providing staff with independent professional design advice on public and private development. The DRP’s goal is to improve people’s quality of life by promoting design excellence within the public realm, including the pursuit of high quality architecture, landscape urban design and environmental sustainability.
  • 1st DRP for the Humber Cinema site was held on November 23rd 2016. The panel voted unanimously for a redesign of the project.  Please see the minutes.
  • In December 2016, Plazacorp informed Councillor Doucette that it was prepared to consult more directly with the community starting early in the 2017.  In anticipation of this opportunity, a Working Group was formed, consisting of three local Resident’s Associations and led by the Old Mill Humbercrest Neighbourhood Association,(now merged with BWVRA); Regretfully, there was in fact no further contact from the developer and no consultations with the Working Group followed.
  • 2nd DRP for the Humber Theatre site was held on April 21st 2017.  Plazacorp, submitted a revised proposal to the City’s Design Review Panel. This scheme had substantive changes, but unfortunately the height and massing of the building were not significantly reduced.  Instead, the alterations to its form could arguably have made it even more imposing and less sensitive to it’s the Bloor West Village context.  Please see the minutes.
  • On May 15th 2017, after being roundly criticized by DRP, the developer appealed its’ original application to the Ontario Municipal Board, that did not address any of the concerns expressed by the community or the significant recommendations from the DRP.
  • Pre-Hearing at the Ontario Municipal Board to be held on Thursday, September 28, 2017.  This is the first step the OMB takes to identify all of the Parties that have an interest in the matter, explore whether there is an opportunity for a Mediated Settlement and, failing that, set a date for the Hearing.

We want to ensure that residents’ concerns regarding this proposal are heard at the OMB. To do that, we need your help to raise more than $60,000 to pay for legal and planning professionals who will attend the Pre-hearing and the proceedings that follow.

If you care about Bloor West Village, and everything that makes it  a highly desirable place to live and visit, please take the time to get informed, spread the word and DONATE!

 

http://www.saveourvillage.ca/

 




The Avenue Study is a first step toward better planning policies and zoning bylaws for Bloor Street from Keele to the Humber River. Changed policies and bylaws will determine the future size, design and character of new developments along Bloor. The current policies have proven to be very damaging when tested at the OMB, where developers have been winning the majority of the contested decisions.

Details of the Avenue Study can be found here on the City of Toronto web site.

Our residents’ association has two members on the local advisory committee with the City and the consultants to ensure residents’ concerns are incorporated into this study. The Avenue Study is targeted to be completed by the fall of this year.

 

There’s quite a fun piece in the Globe and Mail on three couples who have moved into the city from the suburbs: Turning their backs on suburbia (it will vanish behind the Globe’s paywall after a week or two, so read now!).

The O’Haras, who gave up their big house, big commute, pool and yard in suburban Caledon, Ont., for a more compact house and lifestyle in Bloor West Village, admit to being astonished by the congeniality of city neighbours compared with those they left behind.

“I thought people in the city would be more into their own thing,” says Mr. O’Hara. “It’s the very opposite to what I thought it would be.”

“You buy the lifestyle here,” says Ms. O’Hara. “This neighbourhood has a huge sense of community that we were unable to find in suburbia.”

A big welcome to all the families in the story: the O’Haras; Diana Hatzepetros, David Middleton and family, also in Bloor West Village; and Tom Poldre, Jane Lawton and family in Baby Point.

Below is an article based on a CBC Toronto radio report from December 2007. It refers to a type of neighbourhood planning that is aimed at protecting residents from nasty surprises from developers. The report, and the actions of the Annex residents, should remind us that the Bloor West Village already has such a plan. It is called the BWV Urban Design Study 2005. It was carried out by the same authors quoted in the story below.

You can view a copy under “Links” on our homepage.

What is important to note is that this document has not been adopted by the City Planning Department. So, it does not have the force of law and would have limited value before the Ontario Municipal Board, which tends to be highly sympathetic to developers.

It is the goal of the BWVRA to press the City to adopt the Urban Design Study so that it can do what it was designed to do: provide a balanced plan and guidelines for any proposed development in the Bloor West Village.

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Developers in Toronto are eyeing one of the great avenues of the city, which they say is ripe for change.  But before the construction crews can move in, residents want to have their say on how the street will be redeveloped.
The stretch of Bloor Street West, from the Royal Ontario Museum at the corner of Avenue Road, west to Bathurst Street, is poised for change — and residents know it. 
Small, low density buildings, street-front stores and lots of pedestrian traffic mark the area right now.
Residents understand that the area will change, but they want to make sure any changes keep the feel of the neighbourhood.
At a public meeting this week, residents, urban planners and city officials presented a vision for the future of Bloor Street, before any developers start making their own proposals.
Jennifer Keesmaat, an urban planner who was hired by city hall to help the residents, says she wants to attempt to define what people want before a developer walks in and shocks the neighbourhood with a proposal for a 50-storey tower.
Keesmaat says developers she’s spoken with actually like the plan. 
“They, in fact, are very excited about the clarity that has emerged because they know they can now come forward with a proposal, and they have a sense of whether there’s going to be support, or what the response is going to be,” she said.
The vision that emerged for Bloor Street is to reject very tall condo towers, but to allow buildings that are six to eight storeys.
Mimi Fullerton, with the Annex Residents Association, says it’s about sensible development.
“It’s a change, perhaps a shift, in the way we will be planning in the future, and I think a welcome shift. It’s been too much done on a remote basis, the neighbourhoods are an afterthought,” she said.
The plan would also put an emphasis on pedestrians.
It proposes to take out a lane of traffic on Bloor, along with some parking, in order to widen sidewalks. The plan calls for trees and a public square.
Annex resident Robert Brown says the plan will help prevent conflict.
“It adds a degree of certainty to the developers in that they know what the expectations of the neighbourhood are,” he said.
The hope is that developers will embrace the clear vision of the street and will tailor their proposals to it, instead of shocking the neighbourhood with a proposal for a giant tower.
The attempt by the community to guide development is new and it’s not known whether it will actually work. But if it does, many predict it will be copied by neighbourhoods all over Toronto. CBC News Toronto

The view from your Bloor West Village Residents Association

By Gregory Hamara, Chair, and Steve McNally, Communications Coordinator, on behalf of the Executive of the BWVRA

The Bloor West Village community is getting a building almost nobody wanted on the site of the old Humber Odeon theatre.

How is this possible after two years of thoughtful and restrained opposition by residents west of Jane Street and the BWVRA representing residents east of Jane, four community meetings and a clutch of private ones – including face-to-face meetings with the developer, architects, bureaucrats, and elected officials?

Read More

As you may know on April 4, 2006 the Etobicoke-York Community Council rejected a re-zoning request for construction of a 10-storey condo tower at Jane and Bloor on the site of the old Humber Odeon theatre. (see our previous posts & Villager April 7th)

This is not a final and binding decision and the developer may try to have it overturned by the full Toronto City Council on April 25th, arguing that the Ontario Municipal Board will eventually reverse the decision of Community Council.

The fate of the Humber Odeon site could be very important to the future development of Bloor West Village in ways that may not be readily apparent, especially to those who do not live near the property.

What is the big deal?

There are no 10-storey buildings in the Bloor West Village. This would set a precedent. Current zoning, and the Official Plan, say the limit should be 5-storeys. This height limit is designed to help retain the human scale of the Village.

If this exception is allowed, the precedent poses a risk. If 10-storeys is okay on a narrow site with houses close behind it, why not 20 storeys on a big open site like the No Frills grocery store site? There are several other sites in the Village that could be targeted for similar over-development.

Isn’t there a plan for future growth?

Yes — and no. There is the Toronto Official Plan, but it is very general and is constantly amended for specific projects like this one. Hence the significance of precedents.

Plans that are specific to a neighbourhood (and less readily changed) are called “Avenue Studies” – and none has been done for the Bloor West Village, yet. We need an Avenue Study to avoid the hodge-podge development that has plagued much of Toronto.

What’s wrong with this proposal?

Criticism has been broad but it boils down to this:

The community (and several Etobicoke York Community Councillors) says it’s a mundane and unattractive block tower with blank side walls that will dominate the view of Bloor West Village from all directions. You can see the big yellow billboard on it now from High Park. There’s also the issue of precedent and what this proposed development might mean to the future of our Village.

Residents near the site say 10 storeys is too high and, at three levels of retail and seven levels of condos, the proposed development would make the Jane and Bloor traffic problems worse.

What should residents do?

The City will likely be hearing from the developer, who might offer to tinker further with the design to provide the City with a way to avoid a costly battle at the OMB, where it would have argue against its own Planning Department report. The City no doubt will be tempted.

You should write a note to Councillor Saundercook supporting his position at last week’s Community Council meeting to reject the development proposal. Include the others on the list below (and the City Clerk), who will vote on this issue at City Council. If you want them to kill the proposal, tell them so. But, alternatively, tell them that any further negotiations should result in significant changes to the design, height and impact of the building. Tell them than an “Avenue Study” must be ordered for the BWV to offset the damage if Council allows this precedent-setting proposal to go ahead.

For your convenience, we have included a sample letter that you could cut&paste with your own modifications. Please CC the City Clerk – clerk@toronto.ca

Below is a list of people who should know your views and concerns. Please contact them as soon as possible. A final decision on the site will be made April 25th.

Local Council Members

Councillor Bill Saundercook councillor_saundercook@toronto.ca

Mayor David Miller (lives in Bloor West Village) mayor_miller@toronto.ca

Sylvia Watson (represents neighboring ward 14) councillor_watson@toronto.ca

City Clerk (will put it in Council’s agenda package) clerk@toronto.ca

Community Council Members

Rob Ford (voted against the proposal) councillor_ford@toronto.ca

Georgio Mammoliti (voted for it to avoid OMB) councillor_mammoliti@toronto.ca

Peter Milcyn councillor_milczyn@toronto.ca

Frances Nunziata councillor_nunziata@toronto.ca

Doug Holyday (voted against) councillor_holyday@toronto.ca

Gloria Lindsay Luby (voted against) councillor_lindsay_luby@toronto.ca

Frank Di Giorgio councillor_digiorgio@toronto.ca

Suzan Hall councillor_hall@toronto.ca

Cesar Palacio councillor_palacio@toronto.ca

All Council member E-mails

http://app.toronto.ca/im/council/councillors.jsp

Sample letter

Sample letter text to copy & paste into your own email or document (text-only format)

Sample letter text to copy & paste into your own email or document (Word format)