Community Council wants comprehensive review of Humbertown redevelopment

Working group to spend summer trying to resolve outstanding issues

Reprinted CYNTHIA REASON  May 17, 2012 – 8:20 AM “The Etobicoke Guardian”

An “extremely thorough” examination of the controversial Humbertown redevelopment will now be undertaken as an alternative to a broader secondary plan review shot down by city staff at this week’s meeting of the Etobicoke York Community Council.

After being presented with a city report in which planning staff stated a secondary plan is “not required” on Tuesday, May 15, west-end councillors instead unanimously approved a motion put forth by Etobicoke Centre Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby – one advocated by both the applicant, First Capital Realty, and the project’s most vocal opponent, the Humber Valley Village Residents Association (HVVRA).

Lindsay Luby’s motion requested a “comprehensive” review of the application by an already-formed working group consisting of First Capital, city planners, and representatives from six area resident associations – HVVRA, Kingsway Park, Buttonwood, Princess Anne Manor, Kingsway Residents Against Poor Planning, and Royal York Gardens Tenants Association.

“We are committed to working through all of the issues,” Lindsay Luby said, noting a community consultation meeting initially scheduled for June is now being held off until September to give the working group time over the summer to try to iron out some of the major concerns with the proposal.

“I think that what we’ve got here is some trust and faith that together we can resolve many issues; that instead of the developer trotting off to the OMB, they have agreed to work with us to come to some resolution over a number of issues. Maybe not all of them, but I think we can do a good job to satisfy concerns in the community.”

First Realty’s proposal, which has been criticized by both Lindsay Luby and neighbouring residents as being “too big, too dense and too tall,” seeks a zoning amendment to pave the way for the construction of a mixed-use development, including five 11- to 21-storey residential buildings containing 654 residential units and 28 four-storey townhouse units, at the Humbertown site (259 and 270 The Kingsway and 1144 Royal York Rd.).

Etobicoke North Councillor Doug Ford, who lives close to the plaza and “uses it everyday,” said both he and his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, are ‘dead against” First Realty’s proposal for the site.

“To say that putting 600 units up, doubling the size of retail? In my opinion, because I use it everyday, I think it will destroy the area,” he said, to enthusiastic applause from the dozens of area residents in the gallery at Etobicoke Civic Centre Tuesday. “I promise you we will scrutinize this right down to the last item, and make sure there is public consultation.”

Niels Christensen, HVVRA’s president, said he and other members of the working group designated to carry out the review have accepted a secondary plan is not in the cards, and put forth a number of alternative recommendations – which were later echoed in Lindsay Luby’s motion.

They included:

– the director of community planning include in his review of First Capital Realty’s application a thorough examination of the contextual surroundings of Humbertown Shopping Centre, considering all potential impacts on the community, as well as the need to preserve the unique character and long-term stability of the residential communities that surround the site;

– planning staff consider potential alternative development concepts that arise out of the working group discussions, and that may provide a more compatible relationship between the development and the surrounding communities in terms of height, density, land-use mix, traffic impact and overall urban design;

– council direct a qualified consultant to be retained by the city in order to provide an independent peer review of the retail market analysis/ market impact assessment report which was provided on behalf of the proponent;

– the city reaffirm its support and further clarify the mandate of the working group to include the active participation of the appointed city planners, the city, the proponent, and the designated residents associations with the intent that issues and concerns arising from the application may be discussed and resolved while the city’s review is ongoing.


PICTURE: Community Council wants comprehensive review of Humbertown redevelopment. Humbertown Plaza, at 270 The Kingsway near Royal York Road and Dundas Street West, is the site of a proposed development. (May 9, 2012) Staff photo/MARY GAUDET