22 Story Condo on Kingston Road.
By Derek Pinder
The Planning Application for a large condo development that will replace the Royal and Avon motels on Kingston Road has been amended to reflect discussions between the developer and the City of Toronto and the community consultation held in June 2019. There’s good news and bad news.
At a virtual community meeting on November 4, Sean McGaffey of WND Associates summarised the changes as follows. The building to the west has been reduced in height from 13 storeys to 11 and has been pulled back from Kingston Road. The building to the east, which is already well back from the road, increased its height from 16 to 22 storeys. No, that’s not a misprint; 22 storeys! Setbacks and landscaped areas have generally been increased.
We don’t know how many people attended the meeting and WND has not responded to a request for information, but the paucity of questions and comments indicates that there were not very many. Those questions that were raised reflected the same concerns that were expressed at the 2019 meeting, namely height and traffic.
The tall tower will certainly dominate the neighbourhood, but it is not inappropriate for the unusually large lot size. With the right architectural finishes, it could actually be quite eye-catching and has the potential to bring some sparkle to this rather bland area.
The biggest concern, however, is traffic; specifically the entrance and exit onto Kingston Road. Because the road is a divided highway, there will be no direct access to or from the eastbound lanes. Motorists have the choices of a U-turn on Kingston Road, circling around Brimley and St. Clair, or wending through streets on the south side of Kingston. All of these choices have serious consequences such as dangerous manoeuvres, increased traffic congestion, and more cars on residential streets. Meeting attendees were advised that this topic could be addressed during the future site plan review process.
The surge in the building of condos along Kingston Road has failed to produce a single top-notch structure. This development has the potential to break away from the ‘blending-in’ approach to give us some ‘wow’ – but let’s solve those traffic problems before we start building.
8 Storey Controversy in Highland Creek
By Derek Pinder
Highland Creek Village is the only Bluffs community that retains a village feel in more than just its name. Although most of the community has become just another suburb, the village identity still applies to the retail core and a handful of historic buildings, and many residents continue to express a wish to preserve that heritage. Does the arrival of an eight-storey condominium put an end to that dream?
Altree Developments is proposing to build two 8-storey residential buildings at the north west corner of Military Trail and Kingston Road. The two buildings will contain 620 units and 577 underground parking spaces. The site is a strip of land that overlooks the Highland Creek valley. Amendments to the Highland Creek Secondary Plan and the zoning by-law will be required to permit construction.
At a City-of-Toronto convened virtual consultation meeting on November 3rd, which was attended by about 110 members of the community, the biggest concern was the height of the buildings. The responses to this concern included the fact that since 2010, various studies have recommended a maximum height of six stories but an appeal by another developer to the Ontario Municipal Board was successful in establishing a maximum of eight stories. It was also pointed out that Military Trail will be widened from 20 to 27 metres, which generally would allow an eight-storey building, and shadow studies indicate no significant difference between six and eight stories.
Now, the Highland Creek Community Association recently conducted a survey in which they asked: “Is eight storeys too high?” 91% of respondents said “yes”. But a better guidance document is the Highland Creek Village Area Study which was written by the City in consultation with residents, land owners and business owners. This Study recommended a gradual transition in building height from Main Street to the edges of the Village where heights of six to eight stories are contemplated.
As for the Village heritage dream, the development is far enough away from the historic area that its impact will be minimal. But it will bring some 1,000 potential customers to the shops which are badly needed to arrest what seems to be a state of terminal decay.
Brimley Cycling Lanes Removed
By Derek Pinder
Temporary cycle lanes were installed on Brimley Road in July. Now they have gone. What happened? They have been removed based on data that show that, although there was an increase in the number of cyclists using the lanes, there was also a significant increase in traffic congestion. The cost of installation and removal is estimated to be $240,000. Judging by comments on social media, many more citizens wanted them removed rather than made permanent.
To have expedited this experiment at a time when traffic was light and budgets were stretched due to the COVID pandemic was almost as strange an idea as introducing lower speed limits in school zones when the schools were closed. Moreover, the data from which decisions have been made are fatally flawed. Traffic volumes were measured in May and June and were compared with measurements that were made from July through November. During this period, traffic volumes, patterns and mix changed dramatically and are not back to normal yet.
This story has a happy ending. Brimley Road is scheduled for reconstruction in two- or three-years’ time. That opportunity will be taken to examine the possibility of engineering-in cycle lanes without negative impacts on other road users. Good thinking: haste makes waste.