Letter To Peter Milczyn, Chair, Planning & Growth Management Committee
February 8, 2011
Mr. Peter Milczyn, Chair
Planning and Growth Management Committee City Hall, 10” floor, West Tower
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Re: Request for Comments – 5-Year Official Plan ReviewEdenbridge-Humber Valley Neighbourhood
Dear Councillor Milcyn: Introduction and Summary
I write on behalf of the of Humber Valley Village Residents’ Association (HVVRA) in response to the City’s request for comments from stakeholders, as part of the consultation process undertaken for the purpose of the statutory 5-Year Official Plan Review currently underway.
The HVVRA is concerned that the Official Plan lacks objective and meaningful standards for the development of lands designated as Mixed Use. In the absence of such standards, or an appropriate Secondary Plan for Mixed Use lands, development projects contemplated for such areas cannot be planned and designed with reference to a set of generally supported policies and criteria that will protect and enhance the character and stability of the communities that Mixed Use lands form a part of.
In our neighbourhood – officially designated as the Edenbridge-Humber Valley neighbourhood by the City – a major redevelopment proposal on the site of the neighbourhood “Humbertown Shopping Centre” (Zones CR SS3-x932 & CR 2.0 SS3- x933), located near our geographic centre, illustrates the problem of the lack of standards for Mixed Use lands. The application involves an intense, large-scale and high-density redevelopment of the lands. (A summary of the key aspects of the proposal is attached as Schedule “A”). This submission is not intended to address the issues arising from this redevelopment application, but we will refer to the application in order to illustrate our concerns with the Mixed Use designation.
The HVVRA submits that there is a clear and demonstrable need for greater precision in and clarification of the permissible standards for the development of Mixed Use lands. Such guidelines would fill the present void and be of great assistance in guiding development activity in neighbourhoods such as ours to ensure that it is compatible with the neighbourhoods surrounding Mixed Use lands.
You will find hereafter more background, context and validation for our request. Edenbridge–Humber Valley: Our Neighbourhood
Toronto is often referred to as a “city of neighbourhoods” and for good reason. Neighbourhoods are a defining and precious characteristic of our city’s urban structure. They are, for the most part, vibrant yet stable. “Protecting our neighbourhoods” is documented as one of the key concerns expressed by citizens across Toronto during the Stage 1 consultation recently completed. The summaries produced by city staff all report essentially that “participants expressed considerable support for the Official Plan policies that protect neighbourhoods”. Nonetheless, we
submit that these policies are deficient in reference to the Mixed Use designation in certain areas, with our own neighbourhood being an obvious case in point.
The boundaries of Edenbridge-Humber Valley are Dundas St. to the south, Islington Ave. to the west, Eglinton Ave. to the north, and the Humber River to the east. Within these limits the land use is predominantly residential, with single-family housing, town houses and low-rise multi-family buildings (2-5 storeys) accounting for approximately 70% of the resident population.
The main roads that connect our local streets to the peripheral arteries are Royal York Road and The Kingsway, which are two-lane streets with 27m and 23m rights-of-way, and 50km/hr. and 40km/hr speed limits, respectively. Under the city’s road classification system, Royal York is a “minor arterial” and The Kingsway is a “collector”. They are both bordered by single-family homes (including a primary school) and a few 2 to 4-storey buildings on approximately 85% of their length,connecting Islington Ave. and Eglinton Ave. with Dundas St. The nearest subway station, Royal York, is 2.4 km from our neighbourhood centre.
With the main streets bordering the Humbertown site being minor roads (and not “Avenues”) with relatively low capacity, and without a close connection to the subway system, this is clearly not a “hub” suitable to support high-density commercial and residential buildings and the resulting transportation and services demands.
With the exception of a very small commercial building on the north side of Dundas St. at the Islington intersection, the only retail commercial/office use is the Humbertown Shopping Centre located near the geographic centre of Humber Valley Village.
Humbertown Site: Mixed Use Designation
The Official Plan designates the site of Humbertown Shopping Centre, somewhat less than 10 acres in size, as Mixed Use. Other than that, the Official Plan is basically silent as to the criteria that should govern the eventual redevelopment of this site. The existing site-specific zoning reflects what is already there: retail commercial and offices uses, a two-storey height limitation, a maximum 12,000 sq.m. gross floor area and a maximum 33% lot coverage. It appears that the land was zoned for residential use before the adoption of By-law 1990-178.
There is currently no residential use permitted (under site-specific By-law 1990-178) and, on its face, the Mixed Use designation opens the door to the addition of residential use including, potentially, mid and high-rise residential buildings. We do not suggest that a neighbourhood should be static and we are not opposed to development per se, but the Mixed Use designation provides few, if any, standards that guide future development and changes to the zoning. We are concerned that the lack of any concrete standards that take into account the character of our neighbourhoodrender the Official Plan a document with little real impact, and potentially “toothless” in terms of ensuring the protection of the stability of our neighbourhood.
Although we do not object to change that protects and preserves the character and stability of our neighbourhood, we strongly object to the “one-size-fits-all” designation for Mixed Use lands.
We therefore request that the Official Plan be strengthened through the enactment of objective and meaningful standards that will fill the present void in the Mixed Use designation, and thereby supply the city planning staff, Community Council, and other decision-makers with clear and specific guidelines. It is vital to our community that any future development of zones CR SS3 and CR 2.0 not compromise the integrity and quality of our neighbourhood environment, but rather be a welcome complement to the existing community fabric.
Proposal for Standards for Mixed Use Lands
We submit that the following types of standards should be enacted for Mixed Use lands such as the Humbertown site:
§ Maximum limits for the density of residential buildings, having regard to the; low-density of most of the surrounding areas and the protection of the general character of our neighbourhood;
§ Maximum limits for the gross floor area of retail, commercial, and office buildings;
§ Maximum height limits for buildings;
§ Appropriate setbacks for buildings from property lines, in keeping with the
character of the neighbourhood, and including provision for landscaping and significant tree planting;
§ Appropriate angular planes to further set back building frontages, again in recognition of the prevailing character of the neighbourhood and to ensure adequate sunlight on adjacent open space and sidewalks;
§ Approximate siting guidelines for buildings to avoid adverse wind tunnel
§ Appropriate transitions between buildings, such as the single-family homes on the north side of Royal York Rd. directly opposite the Humbertown site.
§ Limits on increases in permissible traffic volume, to maintain a proper balance between the overall scale of the development and the acceptable impact of traffic generation, in a manner that respects the classification and limited capacity of the adjoining road network.
We believe that these types of standards, and others that support their objectives, should be enacted following appropriate public consultation.
The Humber Valley Village Residents’ Association firmly believes that standards for the Mixed Use designation under the Official Plan are urgently needed to ensure that any future project will respect and enhance the character and stability of the Edenbridge-Humber Valley neighbourhood and other neighbourhoods throughout the City.
Niels Christensen, President – HVVRA
Cc: Ms. Gloria Lindsay Luby, Councillor
Mr. Bill Kiru, Manager, Etobicoke-York City Planning
Redevelopment of the Humbertown Site
The main features of the proposed redevelopment, as we understand them, are as follows:
§ Addition of a residential component comprised essentially of five high-rise buildings containing 650-700 condominium units along Royal York Rd. and The Kingsway, plus 28 townhouse units at the rear of the site, on Lambeth Rd.
§ Height of the proposed high-rise buildings is 21, 18, 16, 16 and 11 storeys.
§ The high-rise buildings are to be built “on top” of two-storey structures.
§ The three towers located between Royal York Road and The Kingsway are located on top of two-storey commercial buildings.
§ The two-storey commercial buildings are to be built right to the property limits, without any setback from the public rights-of-way.
§ All commercial buildings have two storeys. The projected floor sizes are as
follows: 160,000 sq.ft. for retail and 80,000 sq.ft. for offices, for a total of ±240,000-250,000 sq.ft., equivalent to an addition of approximately 100,000 square feet to the existing neighbourhood shopping centre.
§ The bulk of the planned 1,400 parking spaces will be provided in a 4-level underground parking garage located between Royal York Rd. and The Kingsway Rd. Above-ground spaces will be for short-term parking only.