Friday December 4, 2020 9:56 pm

The Front Page

Scarborough’s New View Photo Contest winners announced; Mayor John Tory and Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson led City Council in commissioning the photo contest after media reported that when you Googled Scarborough an image of a broken down, decrepit house came up – which is in no way a representation of Scarborough. Winners were announced Wednesday November 18th in a virtual awards ceremony. The photo contest, in partnership with Scarborough Arts, received more than 3,700 entries from new and experienced photographers who captured photos of people, places and things in Scarborough. The photo contest was led by Scarborough Arts with support from the City of Toronto, the Ontario Arts Council and XVXY Photo. All the winning photos as well as runners up and honourable mentions are on our home page www.bluffsmonitor.com

Development 2.0 ~ Residential Infill

By John Smee

I once considered publishing a black and white version of the Bluffs Monitor, similar to vintage Globe and Mail publications, before deciding it would be out of character for the neighbourhood. Nothing about south Scarborough is black and white - especially where the debate over infill construction is concerned.

Infill is the process of demolishing a home, then rebuilding or renovating the property in an established neighbourhood.

Councillor Crawford spent a considerable amount of time driving through our neighbourhoods with me this past month. When it comes to development in Ward 20, he has a near encyclopedic knowledge of the changes that have occurred over the past 10 years.

Crawford reminded me that the city has no control over the development of privately owned property that is within established building and zoning guidelines. Full stop. Developers, however, are always looking to push the envelope of what’s allowed and what ‘might be’ allowed.

In Birch Cliff, residents are currently seeing a lot of change. A study of the Birch Cliff Area 15 years ago set parameters for what residents wanted their neighbourhood to look like, and therefore what the city would allow to be built there. It was a long and exhaustive process. Now that it’s 15 years old, some wonder if it is still relevant.

As more and more condos have gone up on Kingston Road, from Victoria Park to Birchmount, the neighbourhood has taken on a different feel. Some positive changes can be seen from these developments, such as the LCBO outlet moving into the Kingston and Blantyre condo’s street-level retail space. More retail stores are sure to follow suit as residents are drawn to shop local. In fact, it has already started. While driving, you can see many new businesses opening up as you travel west through Birch Cliff. Change is inevitably coming to the side streets of Birch Cliff as the area becomes more desirable for builders. The neighbourhood gained some level of attention when BlogTO called it one of the 5 most up-and-coming development neighbourhoods in the entire city.

The marketplace dictates the speed of development. Money is currently for sale at prices (interest rates) not seen in a generation.

As homes in the Beach get priced out of sight, people have begun looking to purchase properties in adjacent neighbourhoods. As the area study and zoning is already in place in Birch Cliff – that is for builders who follow the guidelines – consultation with city officials or area residents isn’t necessary. For area residents this means their property’s value will increase, arguably something everybody wants.

Cliffside is another area undergoing substantial change. The areas south of Kingston Road haven’t caught on with the market just yet, but a drive through the side streets north of Kingston Road is a different story. There is construction going on on every street. One reason for this is because the city has allowed lots to be severed there; two homes on a property where there was once only one. This is an area undergoing more than revitalization, the whole appearance and atmosphere of the neighbourhood is changing. Some will argue for the worse, but what is the alternative?

As Crawford told me, “People have talked about, Bret (Snider) being one of them, and let’s look at this... what does he call it, the south Scarborough policy, and I understand where he’s coming from, but... do you want a policy that will put in place restrictions that will not allow people to, you know, allow their house to get full market value?”

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