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!

A local resident gave us a heads up that the Coffee Tree Roastery is celebrating its 30th birthday on Bloor Street West next month.  We agree that it has added much to the ambiance and special character of the village over those years thanks to its owner Susan, who’s worked hard to support the village and given it a special place in the hearts and minds of not only residents, but also  many well-known personalities of Toronto (see below.)  Make sure to drop by and say hello on May 12.

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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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.

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

Where’s the movie theatre going as part of the Humber Theatre development?

In the current plans, the curtain will fall on the Humber movie theatre once development starts on the project.  We don’t have a specific date as of now, but we do know it will be closing permanently (as well, the current owner of the theatre business is not interested in continuing.)  Like you, we’re guessing, we’ve also enjoyed having a movie theatre in the village; a venue you can walk to, to take in the latest films.  If retaining a local movie theatre is important to you, or perhaps seeing a new cultural or recreational spot incorporated in the design plans, we’d encourage you to write our local Councillor, Sarah Doucette and share your views.

The Laneway Project has complied a list of “no-brainers” based on the issues and opportunities that have come up in all of the laneways that they’ve worked in.  We share their hope that it inspires action and change in the way that we plan, design and manage the laneways in communities like Bloor West Village.  Read it here.

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!