October 3rd, 2013
For years, development in the Yonge and Eglinton area has been handled in a piecemeal fashion, leaving local residents in the lurch as they have tried to preserve green space.
That is set to change with an initiative underway to create a plan for the midtown area to help set guidelines and improve the public realm.
Labeled a growth area, the area surrounding the busy intersection has been hamstrung not only by the fact that it is served by three councillors but also by the fact that development applications to the south of Eglinton go to Toronto and East York Community Council while those to the north are brought to North York Community Council.
As such, they were subject to rulings by different planning staff and different councillors.
“The ratepayers complained that it was confusing for them and they were worried that with the different jurisdictions, they weren’t getting consistent (planning) recommendations,” said City of Toronto manager of urban design for the North York District Leo DeSorcy.
A working group has been set up to deal with the issues, looking primarily at the public realm and how to make the community friendlier to the people who live there.
“We’re looking at the experience for the people who live here – the good, the bad and the ugly,” DeSorcy said. “This is a chance for the residents to envision what kind of neighbourhood they want, including parks and open spaces.”
More than 80 people attended a public meeting on the matter at the Anne Johnston Health Centre on Thursday, Sept. 26, and the city has tasked public consulting company Swerhun with helping to develop an overarching plan for the area based on community feedback.
While guests at the meeting made their voices heard, the city and Swerhun are still looking for more opinions.
“We’d love to get some more input so the next time we report back to the public, we can see some of their ideas implemented,” DeSorcy said.
St. Paul’s councillor Josh Matlow, who represents residents living south of Eglinton, said he and other local councillors Karen Stintz and Jaye Robinson came up with a motion to create the midtown plan.
“Because the Yonge-Eglinton community’s divided between three councillors and two planning areas, it was always impossible to ensure everyone was at the same table working together,” he said. “We also heard from residents who want to be at the table themselves.”
Matlow noted plans by RioCan to expand the shopping centre on the northwest corner of Yonge and Eglinton, building over Yonge-Eglinton Square, was but one example of the way open space in the area has been chipped away at.
“We have to make sure we have green space and good public realm space,” he said. “We want to make sure this is a people-friendly community instead of just a concrete and glass jungle.”
A website has been set up to allow the public to chime in and offer their opinions, with plenty of interactive features, including maps and a section where residents can upload photos with suggestions.
“People can find a place on a map or send in a photo and say ‘this place needs trees and benches’ or ‘this is my favourite garden,’” DeSorcy said.
Subsequent meetings of the working group, which is open to all, will be posted on Matlow’s website at www.joshmatlow.ca
For more information on the midtown plan, or to make comments or suggestions, visit www.midtowninfocus.com
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