With your help, and with the hard work of our professional team, the SOV steering committee has reached a settlement with North Drive Investments re: 1990 Bloor St. West. This will avoid a showdown at the Ontario Municipal Board and, we hope, set the stage for substantive future input by residents.

Full details are on the Save Our Village website:

http://saveourvillage.ca/bwvra-reaches-a-settlement-on-1990-bloor-west-condo-proposal/

Bloor West residents’ group loses bid for more changes to condo plans; issues going to OMB

Dianne Bradley, executive director of the Bloor West Village Residents Association (BWVRA) recognized the work that’s been done by the city planning department to reach a settlement agreement with the developer.

“And, we are pleased with two of their requirements that have been met: the support of the rental replacement for this property and the natural heritage impact study along with the peer review,” she said in a deputation to councillors. “As an organization, we are not anti-development. We know we are an area that will have more development coming our way. We are simply asking for responsible development, which enhances and compliments the character of the neighbourhood (i.e. standard set-back, mid-rise heights of six to eight storeys, a street pattern that respects and adapts to the topography of the area).”

The BWVRA’s chief concern with the proposal is its continued lack of adherence to the mid-rise guidelines, particularly, it’s above the eight storeys recommended by the mid-rise guidelines and it provides significant massing along the street level of Bloor Street West, which significantly alters the experience of the avenue along the street. There has been no attempt to respect the angular plane of the building to respect the mid-rise guidelines, Bradley said.

Read more

Dear BWVRA and Save Our Village Supporters:

We lost an important vote on Tuesday (Nov 19/13) in our quest to reduce the impact of an over-sized condo building proposed for 1990 Bloor West at the Parkview Gardens TTC station.

The Etobicoke York Community Council (a committee of West end City Councillors) accepted a settlement reached between the City’s Planning staff and the developer, North Drive Investments. We and our Councillor Sarah Doucette had asked that the deal be rejected because none of our final concerns were addressed.

The Councillor, the Chair of the BWVRA, and the lawyer hired by the BWVRA and the Save Our Village coalition spoke to the need to avoid establishing a precedent that sets the stage for the creation of a condo canyon along the Bloor West Village retail avenue. We remain seriously concerned that this building will soon be copied by the same developer as he pushes ahead with an application made for 2114 Bloor (next to the Grenadier Retirement home).

Under pressure from our side, the developer has made some concessions. The considerable efforts of our team have meant improvements for the people who would have to live beside and behind this building. However, our concern for the whole of the Bloor West Village neighbourhood is also important.

This vote at Community Council still has to be ratified by the full City Council.
We are meeting with our urban planner, legal counsel, and Councillor Doucette to discuss our next moves. Because the developer has still not reached a settlement with the BWVRA, we are likely to go to the OMB, opposing both the developer and the City planner on the file. The hearing dates are set for February.

To make a compelling case, we’ll need even more financial support from the community – so please take a moment now to make a donation, even a modest one, to the SOV fund (link is below).

Your support so far has sustained our volunteers through a lot and allowed us to pull together a thoroughly professional team that has achieved real, if so far partial, solutions to concerns about this building.

We will be in touch as we prepare for the next stage.
Thank you very much!

Directors of the BWVRA and SOV Coalition

You can make your quick donation now on the main BWVRA page: www.bwvra.ca. Look for the Save Our Village donate button. A statement of disbursements is also there.

Dear BWVRA Members and Supporters:

Here’s a short update on what the Residents Association has been up to on your behalf.

The City’s Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat was keynote speaker at our AGM.
Over 200 people attended, confirming the concerns many have about the tall condos proposed for our area.

Her advice in response to our concerns about over-development and a flawed system for regulating it, was to continue to make our voices heard, and to engage with our politicians.

Keesmaat’s comments confirm the BWVRA’s decision fully engage as a registered party for the OMB hearing on the first of these towers – 1990 Bloor St. West. This is not only the first in line to be built, it is the one that will set a precedent for all of Bloor West Village. It is being opposed by the City.

It’s of the utmost importance that we raise sufficient funds to present a case to reduce it to the maximum 8 story limit. We urge you to visit our site at www.SaveOurVillage.ca to see how this development will ripple through, and change, the Village for the worse.

We also urge you to contact us if you can lend your expertise in fundraising, or in environmental issues relating the the protection of High Park.

Hundreds of hours have been put in by the BWVRA, it’s members, and the SaveOurVillage coalition to prepare this case with an urban planner and a lawyer. We have raised over $14,000 (of the $40,000 needed) and we can continue on your behalf, with your financial support. Even $20 can help the cause. See how easy it is to donate to the fund, who controls it, what it is for: http://saveourvillage.ca/participate/donate/

The BWVRA’s other major undertaking is also connected to the preservation idea. In partnership with several neighbouring residents’ associations, and with the help of a planning intern, we have begun the long process of having Bloor West Village recognized as a Heritage Conservation District. While this can take some years, it would recognize and protect the key characteristics of the Village.

This has been the busiest and most ambitious year in the history of the BWVRA. We need you to help as never before, both in informing yourselves on the issues we are raising, and in reaching into your pockets to make sure we establish a precedent that ensures responsible development of the Village for many years to come.

We also need you to write to our Ward 13 Councillor Sarah Doucette. She is key to this process and we have to assure her that we want her to get the right building for Bloor West Village. Here is her contact information:

Sarah Doucette
City Councillor Ward 13
Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Suite C46. Toronto ON.
Phone: 416 392 4072
councillor_doucette@toronto.ca

Steve McNally on behalf of Executive of the BWVRA.

BWVRA Members and Supporters,

Please read this update on a proposed development that the BWVRA has put at the top of its priority list.

It’s a 12 story condo proposed for 1990 Bloor West, near the High Park TTC stop (West entrance). A project, one of two by this developer, we see setting a precedent that endangers the character of Bloor West Village.

What’s new?

The OMB (Ontario Municipal Board) has set May 28th as a pre-hearing date. The developer, NDI, is applying to exceed the City’s zoning and mid-rise guideline maximum of about 8-storeys. It has launched a marketing campaign that describes it as a “boutique” condo. Though, at 12-storeys and 131 units, City Planning describes it as an “over intensification” of the site and a “negative precedent.”

ndisign

NDI’s sign on the site shows only a small portion of the “boutique” condo, that would surpass the tallest building in the Bloor West Village area by four storeys.

Here is the NDI rendering that shows the true scale of the proposed building.

1990Bloor

 

Why worry?

Precedents count for a lot. NDI has an almost identical building ready to go closer to the Village core at 2114 Bloor – next to the Grenadier Retirement Centre. The sales signs are up. NDI’s urban planners have identified a total of NINE sites that are ripe for re-development in the Village. An exceptionally tall precedent will make it impossible for the City to say no to the others.

Imagine towers on the No Frills lot, the Turner&Porter site, the current Tim Horton’s location. They are all on the list.

Look at the building by the same designers that now dominates the corner of Bloor West and Indian Road (East of the Keele TTC station). Is this the look and character you associate with Bloor West Village?

Anti-development + NIMBYism?

Absolutely not. The BWVRA, several other local groups, Councillor Sarah Doucette and City Planning have been pushing for a building that works for this important area. One that simply complies with new zoning (and extended) height guidelines. The developer has instead done an end run to the OMB, hoping to have much more imposed.

Next Steps

We’re raising enough money among small groups near the proposed sites to seed a BWVRA Save Our Village Fund dedicated to responsible development in our neighborhood. We’ll hire an urban planner to appear at the OMB pre-hearing. After that we’ll know how much it will cost to present the full case on the community’s behalf.

That’s when we’ll broaden our request and ask directly for your help. This is a costly and technical process, but there is no alternative: City Council can’t just say “no”. We’ll need you to pitch in what you can.

Find out more

Visit the website called Save Our Village – It has all you need to know about the proposals and the arguments for scaling them back. It will tell you how you can help us to press ahead. Only help from people like you will allow us to succeed. Please look to the near future and consider what is at stake.

Send any questions or comments you have to us at info@bwvra.ca.

saveourvillagebanner

We received an email late in September that North Drive Investments had appealed their re-zoning application to the OMB.

Sarah Doucette told their lawyer at the Oct 1 meeting that it was a slap in the face to residents (we all agreed) and then agreed to listen to why they’d done it and to why they propose continuing with the Working Group process, should residents agree. Basically, they said that it was clear differences on massing and height were irreconcilable, and they wanted to get in the queue for an OMB hearing – likely in the early Spring. We agreed to listen.

They’re willing to think about a short list of items but not height, massing, design, and angular planes. That leaves window dressing.

After the meeting we spoke with Sarah Doucette and Phil, the planner.

They are able to opt for the OMB appeal because the process of applying for and getting a decision on their application has now taken more than 120-days. They have not done the same with their application for 2114 Bloor, but it’s been suggested 1990 was their first priority in terms of timing.

It was agreed last night that Sarah Doucette’s office will contact the Working Group members who were not there and fill them in. She will also contact North Drive and 1) get them to respond to some things that were added/re-iterated last night by us, and 2) tell us what concrete proposals for change they are willing to commit to so that we know whether we want to show for the scheduled next meeting of the W.G. on Oct 15th.

It may not be worth continuing with the Working Group. The things that matter most to those who live nearby and to the Village as a whole will not be touched. The smaller issues can/might be addressed by the OMB, or later by the City – when and if some kind of building goes ahead.

Residents wanting to participate in the OMB process can do so as participants or parties. These are legal terms to the OMB, but basically participant allows you to vent (minimal weight to the quasi-judicial OMB) while parties get to introduce their own planning evidence and question the evidence led by the applicant.

Parties have to be incorporated in some fashion. Fund raising is the issue. It would take several thousand dollars to hire an expert to report and attend. It would be a big step and would require extensive networking with other RAs and residents near the 2114 project.

Great meeting. Very productive. There were about 8 residents – which had a range of professionals; architect, landscape architect, engineer, real estate agent, transportation expert, teacher. Councillor Doucette was also there.

The next meetings are: October 11 and 17th (each to start at 7 pm).

The local residents provided all of their concerns; height, massing, set-backs, shadow impact on residential area and park, traffic, design, materials. The only thing I had to add was that we were concerned that these two projects were going together and had similar looks. The proponent said they were intentional to have the same look so that “the design provided unity and would inspire more like it”. He actually said this with a straight face.

The greatest element of the meeting was knowing that City staff were very much behind the residents’ concerns. Staff made it very clear that they did not support the application and that it had a long way to go for improvement and acceptance. They have asked that if we have examples of other buildings we like and would like to see elements of those on this site then please bring those examples to the next meeting.

North Drive was represented by Moiz Bahar, lead urban designer, Marco (designer from Quadrangle) and Shelley from Goodman’s (I believe) the law firm for NDI. She’s their planning consultant.

Residents included Steve Dewdney (landscape architect), another architect from Durie, several residents from 2000 Bloor, one or two from 20 Gothic, and Marshall Leslie – the sole representative from behind the development site.

We all got to state our concerns in a quick go round, then it was the turn of Carvalino/Flora from the City.

They sounded pretty uncompromising in listing the reasons for the Mid-Rise Guidelines, said they envisions maximums on height and massing, not a starting point for an upward negotiation. They described the M.R.G. study as more like a culmination of thinking and planning, rather than a work in progress. There was no doubt left that the proposal infringed on just about every principle the guidelines are meant to regulate.

Moiz pointed to the obvious: it’s near a subway stop along a major transit line. He drew from the comments made in a side report by the consultants who helped develop the Mid Rise document. They said that Council should be able to take that, and the fact that small lots will be in the mix, into special consideration and be prepared to grant a host of exceptions to the guidelines.

The Planners were quick to note that these comments/recommendations were NOT adopted by Council and are not part of the Guidelines they are bound to enforce.

We were put in three mixed groups with a goal of unleashing some creative suggestions for the developer.

One group suggested, among other things, that part of the building extend over the TTC tracks and that a green space be created in the portion that would wrap around the adjacent building.

Others focused on lowering the height and (effectively) reducing the massing by having the front of building step back more dramatically, possibly from a lower starting point, to lessen it’s dominance of the street “wall”. Others dealt with access issues (ie: putting the condo door on Parkview Gdns) to lessen car backups on Bloor.

North Drive’s representatives were polite and apparently receptive, though anything to do with the TTC was rejected by the lawfirm’s planner.

She was the one to say they needed some time to “digest” the night’s proceeds and Planning said the date for the next meeting would be set once North Drive had been in touch with their offices.

It’s clear NDI haven’t moved a bit toward what Planning had said in its initial reports. They might cherry pick from the suggestions made without compromising on the key money issues of height and massing, play out the process and take that to Council, then the OMB if they lose the vote.

Several people pushed them more than once on the issue of rental units: split them between buildings, put them somewhere else in the Village, think creatively about unplugging the argument that the building has to be a certain size because it’s got to accommodate 24 rentals. Neither side seems to want to go there.

(See our Development page for more background on local development issues)

September 17/12

To: Philip Carvalino – City of Toronto Planning
Councillor Sarah Doucette – Ward 13
CC: North Drive Investments

Re: 1990/2114 Bloor West applications by North Drive Investments

I am writing on behalf of the Bloor West Village Residents Association with regard to the above applications by North Drive Investments. Several members of our Executive attended one or both of the public consultation meetings held on the applications, and we have discussed the proposed buildings and the comments that accompanied the application.

The mandate of the BWVRA is to assess what we see as the wider impact on the residents of Bloor West Village, their use and enjoyment of the heart of their neighborhood. We recognize that intensification is an important goal and that re-development in a desirable area is inevitable and potentially positive.

Our concerns with these applications are as follows:

We feel there has been a clear message expressed by the public in support of maintaining the existing character of the Bloor West Village. That message has been consistent every time the City and developers have collaborated with its residents; during work-shopping of the Bloor West Urban Design Study; the Humber Odeon proposal; deputations on 20 Gothic and 1844 Bloor West; and, the Tridel/Old Mill charrette process. As participants in these meetings, we heard almost no arguments against development. But, we heard a lot about managing growth in a way that enhances and preserves the Village’s major asset, its character.

The BWVRA identifies the following elements as forming that character:

  • A consistent street scape with buildings of a standard setback, heights, massing, materials and style.
  • An overall style that reflects the era from roughly 1900 to 1930, when the area was developed.
  • A commercial core along Bloor Street West with a five storey maximum, with a mix of building facades and street amenities.
  • A street pattern that deviates from the grid layout to respect the original undulating topography of the area.
  • The opportunity for small open green spaces to be enjoyed by the general public.
  • A canopy of mature trees that not only provide aesthetic appeal but also provide a cooling effect in the summer and define the street scape.

One does not need to walk far from either the 1990 or the 2114 Bloor West sites to observe that character. It is reflected in the entire block on both sides of 1990 and all around 2114 Bloor. Even taller/newer buildings such as the Grenadier Retirement Centre pick up on bricked, tiered and varied elements seen throughout the Village. Some similar elements were attempted at Bloor and Ellis Park Road, though with rather limited success. Nonetheless, both developments are a number of storeys lower than what is currently being proposed for smaller sites.

It is our view that, as proposed, the North Drive applications are not in tune with the local consensus or the physical reality of Bloor West Village.

The two buildings are of commendable design and material quality. But, their designs, tall, generic and modernist, neither reflect nor contribute to the character of Bloor West Village. We feel they actually risk intruding on that character. In our view, two buildings very similar in design and style, would undermine the existing character by introducing incompatible elements and heights in separate locations. This is of great concern as we look to applications in the future for other sites within the Village.

It also appears that the projects have not been designed for these specific sites. We see poor integration of the proposed buildings with their surroundings. The building at 2114 does not relate to the neighbourhood onto which it backs, nor does it relate directly to the small park it would overlook. Development of this site provides the opportunity for the creation of an appealing entrance to a quiet residential area, rather than a corridor leading to a utilitarian service bay backside.

Similarly, the massing of the building at 1990 Bloor ignores that it is on a corner, and would create something of an industrial dead end, with parking bay doors on both sides. It could instead open possibility of an appealing off-Bloor plaza, usable by pedestrians and High Park patrons.

It’s clear to us that these weaknesses stem from North Drive’s desire to maximize the number of units on each site. In the case of 1990 this would produce a narrow sidewalk, the crowding of the adjacent low rise and overshadowing of the homes across the TTC tracks. The impact of overloading of the site 2114 Bloor is similar.

It’s the opinion of the BWVRA Executive that these concerns would be mitigated with adherence to the Mid-Rise building guidelines. We feel strongly that these are important; developed specifically to deal with proposals on the Bloor West, and other city Avenues. It would be a dangerous precedent for Bloor West Village for those guidelines to be compromised at this early stage, and in two locations. The result would almost certainly be an irresistible precedent for future developers, planners and Councils.

We foresee that kind of precedent having a serious impact on the quality of life in the Village area. In our view, it can’t be taken for granted that thousands of new users can be added to the TTC services in this one stretch. Peak service is almost inadequate at present, even by the low standard of simply having a place to stand on the subway. The TTC has not secured stable funding to expand its services and it faces serious challenges in trying to add capacity to existing lines. A ten year horizon would be short in terms of meaningful upgrades, if and when they are focused on this part of the system. However, that is a relatively short span of time for the development and construction of new condos.

In the public meetings, North Drive was asked more than once to state its case for two exceptions to the Mid-Rise performance standards. None was given, leaving us to conclude that it is bidding high and hoping to get most of what it seeks, either from the City or later from the OMB.

In our view the City’s approach at this crucial time for the BWV must be to put the onus on the applicant to make a convincing case. And that case must rest on more than the general goal of intensification and the proximity of public transit. We, like the City, believe in sound planning. And so we would not support an exception based on the pledge of Section 37 funds. We would much rather see a good building for each location.

While it is clear that we feel that North Drive needs to address these issues, we also feel that the City needs to be flexible in order to achieve important goals.

One is protecting the rental status of the 24 replacements units. They must not be left vulnerable to downstream conversion to condos.

Another important goal, in our view, is setting a positive precedent for new mid-rise buildings in Bloor West Village. A “success” would involve setting a positive solution-oriented precedent – not one based on exceptions to Mid-rise rules, or by imposition by a higher authority.

To achieve that the City may need to consider some creative thinking. For example, perhaps it can it give some way on residential parking space standards, shared amenities, and/or service bay standards to help yield more units in a smaller building. Perhaps not all of the rental units have to be at the 1990 Bloor location.

These are not formal proposals from the BWVRA. They are ideas aimed at re-enforcing the concept that creative thinking needs to be brought to bear on finding a Mid-rise solution to these unique sites.

We look forward to participating in the Working Groups with yourself, with Councillor Doucette and with representatives of North Drive to achieve a solution that works for all interested parties.

Steve McNally
BWVRA Communications

CC: Councillor Ward 13 Sarah Doucette
North Drive Investments

Dear BWVRA Members & Supporters:

An update on two important developments in the Village.

As we reported earlier, two condo buildings are proposed for our stretch of Bloor West Village (1990 Bloor and Parkview Gdns and 2114 Bloor and Kennedy Rd.)

[nggallery id=1]

Public meetings were held a few weeks ago for both at which the developer detailed his plans and the residents were invited to react and ask questions. City Planning staff and Councillor Doucette also attended.

What’s the concern?

The developer is asking for much more height and density than even the latest guidelines allow (link below). Neighbours to both sites made it clear that at 10+ and 12+ stories, they will likely lose daylight, street parking, trees, privacy and enjoyment of their homes.

The BWVRA shares these concerns, but is also looking at the wider impact on the Village, its traffic, its parking, its transit, its livability.

There is no doubt in our minds these proposals represent an important precedent. These buildings are tall, compared to others, and they are not of a design that fits the character of the Village. In short, we believe that, as proposed, they would undermine the character of Bloor West Village. And , they would set an important precedent for the numerous other sites on the avenue that are ripe for re-development.

The BWVRA is not opposing natural growth on principle. On your behalf, we have agreed to participate in a “working group” whose task will be to negotiate changes that deal with the main concerns of those affected by the projects. We have been working closely with the people neighbouring the sites to help them marshal their case for a reduction in the scope of the buildings. We have talked with the Planner and other urban design professionals to make the larger argument for holding the developer to the limits set out in the recent Mid-Rise apartment guidelines.

We urge you to look at the proposals on the North Drive Development websites (see links below) and to forward your comments and concerns to Councillor Doucette, North Drive Developments and the City Planner on the file. Their addresses are below. Please copy us on your correspondence.

Obviously, a broad expression of support for the position outlined above, will lend weight to our argument. Silence will signal consent if not indifference.

Indifference is dangerous. Precedents carry a lot of weight in planning arguments, especially with the development-friendly Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

We have some weeks to work with. Please take a few minutes to look at the potential impact. Contact us if you have any questions, especially if you have expertise you could contribute to the 3 or 4 working group meetings in September. We can be reached at info@bwvra.ca.

Warm regards for a lovely summer.

Links

Plans for the buildings: http://www.2114bloorstreetwest.com and http://www.1990bloorstreetwest.com

Newly adopted Mid-Rise guidelines http://www.toronto.ca/planning/midrisestudy.htm

Councillor Sarah Doucette councillor_doucette@toronto.ca

Sr. City Planner Philip Carvalino pcarval@toronto.ca

North Drive Developments info@north-drive.com

Resident’s Group near 2114 Bloor West savebloorwest@gmail.com

Bloor West Village Residents Association info@bwvra.ca

Dozens of local residents came together for Saturday’s Earth Day clean up. They joined the BWVRA Exec, Councillor Sarah Doucette, the Bloor West Village BIA, and the City of Toronto in the event, braving some chilly weather with great enthusiasm.

Powered by coffee and hot chocolate kindly supplied by Starbucks, and bake sweets donated by Opera Cafe residents young and old grabbed bags and plastic gloves (courtessy of Shopper’s Drug Mart and Pizza Pizza), the clean up crew fanned out from the Runnymede Library across the Village area.

Maps and routes supplied by the BWVRA made sure the retail strip, residential streets and area parks got the once over. Thanks to everyone who participated and those Village businesses whose contributions made it all so much more fun.