A big victory for residents of Bloor West Village yesterday when Toronto City council voted unanimously to oppose Plaza Corp’s proposed development at the site of the Humber Theatre!  Thank you Sarah Doucette (@DoucetteWard13) for your leadership!  We’re now two months away from mediation with the OMB and residents support will be crucial to a successful outcome: follow our page to stay informed as to how you can help.

On November 18, many residents picked up their new (and free!) trees and shrubs at the Tree for Me event at the Annette Street Public Library.  Native trees and shrubs were provided by the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation.  Residents learned how to plant and take care of their new woody friends and received free mulch to help get them off to a good start.  Over 150 trees and shrubs were distributed. The goal is to increase Toronto’s tree canopy to 40% coverage.  More trees in yards are a big part of that and every tree counts.

Check out the photos at snapd Bloor West.

Thanks to Green 13 and the Annette Street Public Library for hosting the event and, of course, the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation.  And keep an eye out for the Spring 2018 Tree for Me event – not long from now at all!

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.

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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.

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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