Humber Valley residents stake their claim against development

Reprinted  from the Etobicoke Guardian
Sep 05, 2012


Cynthia Reason
Etobicoke Guardian

A group of Humber Valley Village residents have taken their opposition to the Humbertown plaza redevelopment away from the meeting table and into the streets – more specifically, onto their lawns.

Over the Labour Day weekend, hundreds of “SAVE HUMBERTOWN” signs popped up around the neighbourhood surrounding the site of the contentious development proposal at 270 The Kingsway – which, if approved, could see a 660 per cent increase in total floor space on the site.

Humber Valley Village Residents Association (HVVRA) President Niels Christensen said the association launched the sign campaign over the weekend in order to alert its members to a city-hosted meeting about the development next Tuesday.

“We want to allow our residents to express their concerns with the development proposal at the meeting, because this is really the only opportunity that residents have to express their concern,” he said.

At question is the “too big, too dense and too tall” proposal put forth by First Realty Corporation – which owns Humberwood plaza – to the city back in January.

The current application before the city proposes a mixed-use development at Humbertown by way of a two-storey commercial base covering the majority of the site – including the retention of existing tenants Loblaws, LCBO, and Shoppers Drug Mart – as well as five 11- to 21-storey residential towers containing 654 residential units and 28 four-storey townhouse units.

If the redevelopment of Humberwood proceeds as planned, the site will see its retail space expanded by 40 per cent (to 160,000 from 111,000 square feet), its office space increased by 250 per cent (to 80,000 from 25,000 square feet), and a 180 per cent increase in its parking spaces (to 1,400 mostly underground spaces from its current 500 above-ground spaces).

Cyndi Rottenberg-Walker of Urban Strategies Inc., the urban planning design firm hired by First Capital, said despite the opposition to it among local residents, the proposed redevelopment promotes the concept of “complete communities.”

“It’s the idea that we’re trying to build places where people can live, work, recreate and shop, all in close proximity, with the ultimate goal of decreasing the dependence that we have become so heavily reliant on – on the automobile,” she said at a community meeting in May, noting that the community will benefit from the increased mix of uses on the site, including pedestrian walkways, a day-care centre, a fitness facility, four banks, underground parking, and new streets so that the plaza can “better knit into the fabric” of the existing community.

Etobicoke Centre Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby, however, has been fighting the Humbertown proposal since its first incarnation, calling it consistently “too big, too dense and too tall.”

During the May 15 meeting of Etobicoke York Community Council, she put forth a motion requesting a “comprehensive” review of the redevelopment proposal by an already-formed working group consisting of First Capital, city planners, and representatives from six area residents associations – HVVRA, Kingsway Park, Buttonwood, Princess Anne Manor, Kingsway Residents Against Poor Planning, and Royal York Tenants Association – over the summer months.

The aim, she said, was to give all sides a few months to iron out some of the major concerns with the proposal.

Christensen said that while he couldn’t comment on the specifics of what was discussed during the “confidential” working group process, “what I can tell you is that our resident’s association is disappointed with its results.”

“It’s a bit like David and Goliath,” he said. “The developer’s a $3.8-billion publicly traded company and we’re a mere group of resident volunteers – but we all remember what happened to Goliath.”

The city will host a statutory meeting about the proposed redevelopment of the Humbertown plaza on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at Martingrove Collegiate Institute, 50 Winterton Dr. (at Eglinton Avenue and Martin Grove Road). An open house will run from 6:30 to 7 p.m., followed by the meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. More than 300 residents are expected to attend.

This article is for personal use only courtesy of Etobicoke Guardian a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.