As you know, work has begun on constructing midtown's underground Crosstown LRT stations. Today, Council approved Eglinton Connects, a long term plan to beautify Eglinton with wider sidewalks, new planters and well-designed public space. Council also considered changes to the Official Plan to facilitate redevelopment in areas such as the West Mall and Dufferin. To be clear, there was nothing in the report before Council this week that changes the zoning in our Midtown community.
However, it has come to my attention that misleading information has been spread about the future plan for Eglinton Avenue. I know some of you are understandably worried about the troubling claims being made regarding your homes.
Below are answers to some of the questions that my office has been receiving over the last week. I have also had this Q & A hand delivered to homes near Eglinton Ave West. More information is available at www.toronto.ca/eglinton.
Are houses going to be expropriated to create laneways?
No. A potential new laneway or laneway widening would only occur through redevelopment and would have to be contained on the developer's property, not on yours. There is nothing in this plan that facilitates new development in our community. If there is an application to build a new condo, or anything else, you will be invited to a public meeting.
Will existing laneways be changed into arterials or otherwise accommodate through traffic?
No. Laneways are for servicing and local access only. These functions are done through rear laneways so delivery trucks don't clog traffic on arterials like Eglinton and cars coming in and out of buildings don't run into pedestrians.
Through Eglinton Connects, will all of Eglinton Avenue have only 1 travel lane in each direction?
No. Eglinton will have four lanes throughout most of the 11 km portion where the new Crosstown will be underground. Between Mount Pleasant and Avenue Rd. the TTC will be removing most of the nine bus routes that currently travel on that stretch. The opened road space will be allocated toward wider sidewalks, public space, large street trees, a dedicated bike lane and three lanes for cars with a permanent left hand turn lane. However, I do share concerns about traffic congestion due the lack of right turn lanes between Mount Pleasant and Avenue Road and potential infiltration into our neighbourhoods. Therefore, I successfully advocated to include right turn lanes at intersections and for coordinated traffic signals to keep traffic moving. I want a plan that improves Eglinton and makes sense.
Please also see this letter from the Presidents of four local Residents' Associations submitted to City Council this week regarding Eglinton Connects for additional information and feel welcome to contact me if you have any additional questions. To learn more about the vote today, please click here to read this article from the Toronto Star.
Improving Development Proposal Public Notices
Development Proposal Public Notices (signs) on an application site are often the only information about a new building proposal that Toronto residents will encounter. That's why it's important that these notices are attractive and well-designed, written in language that is informative and easy for the average person to understand while encouraging involvement in the planning process.
Unfortunately, the City of Toronto's current Development Proposal notices fall far short of these goals. The notices are black and white with a very small picture of the planned building; the text is dry and does not encourage the reader to exercise their right to engage in issues that can have significant effects on their neighbourhood.
I'm pleased to report that my motion that requests the Chief Planner to redesign the City of Toronto's Development Notices was supported by my colleagues.
Development Permit System to be considered for Yonge and Eglinton- Consultation first!
This week, my colleagues approved City Planning's recommendation to consider a Development Permit System for several areas of Toronto, including the Yonge-Eglinton Urban Growth Centre. Planning contends that this system will make it harder for developers to appeal individual building applications to the Ontario Municipal Board.
While I have some questions about this new system, I believe it is important to at least review any possible tools that might give our community more control to limit height and density in our Yonge and Eglinton Urban Growth Centre neighbourhoods. Through my motion that ensures fulsome consultation, I have ensured that you will have an opportunity to learn how a Development Permit System will work (or won't) for Yonge and Eglinton before we decide whether or not to adopt it. What I am certain of, with regard to the City's planning process, is that the status quo needs to change.
New Funding for an Accessible Playground at Deer Park Jr/Sr Public School
Deer Park was one of the many schools that had their wooden play structures removed a decade ago. Unfortunately, a comprehensive playground has not been constructed to take its place. The few play apparatus' on site are inadequate for the special needs students at the school and in the wider community.
I'm delighted to report that my motion to support Deer Park parents' efforts with $300,000 toward their fundraising initiative to construct a new accessible playground was approved by Council unanimously today.
POPS- Securing Privately Owned Publicly-Accessible Spaces
The final staff report on my initiative to secure privately owned publicly-accessible spaces (POPS) for your use was approved by Council today. As Toronto's population grows, we must ensure that our urban parks, plazas and squares are publicly accessible and protected from future infill development. There are dozens of POPS throughout the Midtown and Downtown areas that are poorly used. Clear signage at the entrance to open spaces, along with an interactive, online map let people know they have the same right to relax, eat their lunch or read in that space as they would at any City park. Thanks to this initiative, you're likely to see a new POPS sign at a creative open space in your neighbourhood soon. Please visit our new interactive POPS webpage here!
Planning and Growth Management Committee Public Meeting