If you live or work in downtown Toronto, Canada, between Parliament and Sherbourne, Carlton and Shuter Streets, then we are your neighbourhood residents' association. Join us. For info on the next meetings click the events section on the sideboard.
In any community, there are always many worthy things competing for time and attention. The Board of Directors of the Cabbagetown South Residents' Association chooses some among the many for special attention.
As you may be aware, the City of Toronto and and The 519 are currently planning the redevelopment of John Innes Community Centre, Moss Park Arena and the park space around them. The original proposal was to build at the current location of these facilities, however, a recent and sudden change places the new facilities on the west side of the park, adjacent to the Moss Park Armoury. Based on a prior community consultation meeting, it is clear that the proposal change has taken a large number of resident by surprise, and as such, the CSRB forwarded a letter to the City and 519 voicing concern over lack of transparency in the decision making process and failure to provide the community with alternatives. The City and the 519 have responded by agreeing to meet with the Cabbagetown South Residents Board Board (CSRB) and members of the Garden District Residents Association. There was a secondary meeting in January with the 519 design team, both resident associations and Councillor Wong Tam. The Garden District remains adamant that the relocation of the building on the west side of the park is not appropriate. 519 presented a slightly modified plan but remain fixed on the idea of a new building on the west side of the park. Again residents questioned how parks and recreation can build a new structure in a park that has strict shading protection. Here is Moss Park's position paper. Fo 529's position please click here to read more.
A member of our board attended the "Moss Park - Walk through" meeting with the 519, Toronto Parks Ambassador Troy Ford, Sgt. Peter Troupe, GDRA representatives, and Clair Agre -- a representative from West 8 landscaping company -- contracted to assist with the redevelopment. The weather wasn't very appropriate for the stroll, so the discussion mostly happened in one of the meeting rooms of John Innis.
The conversation was largely focused around safety, with discussion regarding tree canopy preservation towards the end. Here are some of the main points:
Need for proper lighting was emphasized, and Clair from West 8 landscaping has assured us that there will be significant consideration given to provide maximum safety.
Currently, the plan is to have 2 tennis courts, a basketball court, a little-league sized baseball diamond, a multi-use area without fixed implements (e.g. for soccer), and a splash zone. There were some concerns that the miniaturization of the above -- especially the baseball diamond -- will disenfranchise the existing users, however, the counter-argument was made that it is undesirable for a single function field taking over the park, and consultations have been made with leagues making use of thereof.
We were assured that lines of sight will be maintained throughout the park, all possible obstructions, dead-ends and blind spots eliminated, and any connecting corridors will have multiple entry/exit points.
The idea of installing cameras throughout the park was brought up. Maura was positive about the idea, and said she will look into the legality of the matter. Decoy cameras are apparently illegal.
Troy Ford from Parks and Recreation security team express the concern that the completion of the redevelopment could spark new "turf wars" by the gangs and drug dealers in the area, and the gentrification happening south of Queen will exacerbate the situation as more undesirables are pushed north, and into the park grounds. He emphasized the importance of maintaining "ownership" of the park.
Currently, there is no plan to have a dog-run in the park. This was raised as a major issue, since the number of dogs in vertical communities tends to be high, and as more of these condos come up, the dog owners will be using the park regardless of whether the designated area exits. The idea was pitched to put a dog-run on the corner of Sherbourne and Queen. This way it can be easily dismantled when the new subway station is built, yet it will serve as a visual barrier between Sherbourne and the rest of the park. Additionally, a dog-run will ensure regular presence of dog-owners in the park, possibly in the later hours when the park grounds are most problematic.
Having some security presence, especially at night, was mentioned and will be considered.
Tree Canopy Preservation:
Clair has assured that utmost care will be taken to preserve as much of the old growth as possible. A tree canopy plan will be provided once (if) the project is approved later this year (~April) by the City.
Our association recently met with a group called The Laneway Project to discuss solutions around problems with laneways in our area. The idea is to see if there are ways we can change the design and function of our laneways to help deter unwanted behaviour. Laneways are often being used as toilets, Illegal dumping, street level prostitution and drug dealing and drug use. We need to take back our laneways by creating spaces that are attractive and safe for area residents to walk, ride bicycles, park their vehicles, play with their kids, exercise their dogs etc..
Several area residents have made great strides in taking on laneway gardening projects and engaging their neighbours in keeping the laneways green and litter free. One big challenge that we need to raise funds for is the watering of these laneway gardens during hot dry spells in the summer. We are working on getting information about who offers such services and what the cost would be to cover watering when the weather does not cooperate.
We have created a small working group that will look at all our laneways to determine what laneways are in good condition and relatively problem free and those which need a lot of work. We then hope to create a master plan for laneway revitalizaton that will look at improving laneway hardscape, lighting, solutions for graffiti and making the laneways safe and inviting.
INTRODUCTION and SURVEY QUESTIONS:
Some paving surfaces in the laneways are in dire need of a proper repaving and have been poorly patched over the years posing a hazard for cars and cyclists. For those people who have walked through the lanes of Regent Park, you will notice a completely different, family-friendly environment with a mix of paving types/surfaces that define sections of the lanes. This gives the lane character by breaking it up in relation to adjacent buildings, lots or changes in direction or lane type. What you may not realize is the pavement itself performs a vital role in managing stormwater run-off into Lake Ontario. The porous concrete paving bricks allow water to regenerate the water table while greatly reducing run off that over burdens the storm sewer system and pollutes the Lake.
As a connection between Regent Park and the Garden District, Cabbagetown South holds an opportunity to define our neighbourhood as a genuinely unique district while being part of a greater plan. However, if we don’t champion a vision, we will be left with patchwork of quick-fix solutions that further perpetuate the conditions we find today.
To read more click here.
Area residents recently met Councillor Pam McConnell, executive assistant Kelly Sather and city by-law staff, health department staff, representatives from police and fire departments to tackle the ongoing issue of problematic properties in Cabbagetown South. It was our hope that meeting with a large contingent of city staff from various departments that a consolidated effort to address ongoing problems around housing conditions, safety, and in some cases criminal activity could leverage a positive outcome to improve the conditions of poorly maintained/managed properties. To read more click here.
Word has it that the Gerrard and Seaton Beer Store has been sold to a developer planning to build a condo building with commercial/retail space on the Gerrard street frontage. The plan may include a new Beer Boutique Store and other commerical and retail outlets facing Gerrard Street.
For an illustration of a similar project on Avenue Road please click here. The new Beer Boutique Stores generally do not have bottle return facilities so this is something that would have to be resolved. To read more click here.
The City of Toronto is hosted a meeting on May 30th regarding a large proposal to redevelop a property at Ontario Street south of Queen.
The photograph is from the grounds of Moss Park Apartments looking south west.
The scope of the proposal is large and would have a big impact on the area. Several large warehouses on Richmond and Ontario would be demolished and replaced by three large condos with heights up to nearly 50 storeys. To read more click here.
Our Board Members for 2016.
President Jeff Lookong, and Vice President Don Purvis welcome Karen Marrin, Susan Dineen, Tanya English, Murray Bevin, Diana Flynn, Mike Laidlaw and Michael Portnoy to our 2016 Board.
We were also pleased that several area residents have volunteered to help with Community Police Liaison Committee, marketing and social events for the coming year. Thanks to everyone who turned out for our AGM on a cold and rainy April night. Our plan to delay our first meeting of the year until the spring in hopes of better weather did not work out so well. We need a few weeks to meet as a board and come up with our spring schedule and some interesting guest speakers. Watch for our emails and e newsletter update in the weeks to come.
For the latest updates, click here.
Since the initial application submission, proposal has been modified as follows:
Heritage Preservation Services
Tree Protection & Plan Review
The plan for a 13 story market rate apartment building at Sherbourne and Gerrard was the topic for discussion at a recent community planning meeting in January. Oben Flats development team gave a brief outline of the proposal to interested neighbours. To see the plan please click here. The city planner, heritage planner and Councillor McConnell then gave area residents an opportunity to voice their concerns, support and offer up suggestions about the proposal. City planner Jennifer Renaud advised that the plan is in its early stages and has not been approved. We were advised however that the site has been previously identified as a high building site by city planners. For information about tall building sites and the rationale in identifying such sites please click here. Heritage planner Paul Maka advised that the proposed building is subject to some heritage planning regulations due to its location across for Heritage Designated Allan Gardens and the heritage designated building on the south west corner adjacent to the vacant lot.
Immediate neighbours voiced concerns about the size and the architectural style of the building. The concern about potential shading of Gerrard Street and Allan Gardens was also raised. The developer provided a shading study which did seem to indicate the shading of Allan Gardens is not an issue.
Some neighbours indicated they liked the idea of market rate apartments,and liked the architectural design of the building and the need to redevelop the long vacant lot.
Concerns were raised about the height and the look of the building and how the proposed building would impact on the heritage character of the neighbourhood. Area architects suggested that the podium height is inappropriate and needs to be reduced to a three storey podium to better connect with the surrounding buildings. Many area residents voiced the need for some commercial/retail space on the ground floor to help anchor retail mix along Gerrard Strreet. Other neighbours felt that although our area has not yet designated, the neighbourhood is slated under study as a Heritage Conservation District and any new development should be subject to height and design in keeping with the surrounding streetscape.
There were also concerns about the lack of street parking in the area and that tenants and guests will further tax the availability of street parking in the area. Oben Flats representatives countered that parking reviews in the area indicated that most area buildings have an excess of parking spots and that most tenants will opt not to own a vehicle due to the walkabilty of the neighbourhood and proximity to the downtown core employment areas.
Some area residents felt the increased density with new tenants able to pay market rent would help increase the economic development of retail and commercial buildings on Gerrard Street. Others felt the height of the building is in keeping with Sherbourne Streetscape and were relieved that a much taller building was not being proposed.
The next steps will be for the City Planner to review the comments of the community and responding to the applicant. ObenFlats can either then revise their plans, or go to the OMB with the plans now on file. We will keep you abreast with any new developments regarding this proposal.
Further reading that might be of interest is a paper published by the Confederaton of Resident and Ratepayer Associations in Toronto (CORRA). They are reviewing a proposed Development Permit System which would be a fundamental shift in Toronto's planning process to a "vision based neighbourhood scale" planning process. For more information please click here.
Whenever a crime or a suspicious incident occurs, report it. If it is an emergency call 911 if ongoing issues such as noise complaints, street level prostitution or drug dealing call non emergency response at 416 808 2222. And get the incident number. Follow up with Community Police Officers.
Police Constable Julie Rice phone 647 921 6395 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Police Constable Scott Hodgson phone 647 921 6395 email email@example.com
For issues at Toronto Community Housing properties such as noise, drug dealing, etc.follow up with
Community Safety Advisor Michael Bezoff phone 416 899 8454 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Officers from 51 Division point out that the more calls they receive from a particular neighbourhood, the more patrols that neighbourhood receives. If problems are persistent it is also recommended you contact
Staff Sergeant Henry Dyck directly at 416 808 5152 to follow up. His email is email@example.com
Emailing a general complaint form is also a great idea as it helps determine the number of officers assigned to particular divisions. Click here.