Mar 24, 2015
The Yonge and Eglinton area is facing mounting development pressures, but councillor Josh Matlow, the City of Toronto and a variety of local stakeholders are looking to get a leg up on any new proposals.
On Monday, March 23, residents crammed into a meeting room at Northern District Library to get a look at the public realm elements of the ongoing Midtown in Focus process, which will lead to amendments to a Secondary Plan that will shape development in the Yonge and Eglinton area.
City of Toronto planners Paul Farish and Helene Iardas highlighted “five place-making moves” that would redefine the Midtown Public Realm Character Area. Those moves included 12-metre setbacks from the street for new developments along Eglinton Avenue East, landscaping along Eglinton Avenue West, public squares at several intersections, a green promenade, traffic calming on Redpath Avenue and more.
“The vision for the Yonge/Eglinton midtown area is one that balances the intensity and vitality of urban Yonge with a spacious green landscape that makes it unique to other areas of the city,” Iardas said. “It’s this very special character that we want to preserve and enhance.”
While many of the open spaces and parkettes included in the plan already exist, by developing a Secondary Plan for the area, it would ensure they would be protected. The amendment to a Secondary Plan would also ensure continuity in the Yonge/Eglinton community, which is split between three city wards.
Making matters trickier in the area is the fact that developments in the southern part of the area are reviewed at Toronto and East York Community Council while those further north fall under the auspices of North York Community Council.
The Yonge Street Squares call for public squares where several midtown avenues meet Yonge, including Sherwood, St. Clement’s, Erskine, Montgomery, Eglinton, and Soudan.
“The idea is that all these sites would be designed together and coordinated to create a really great space for the community,” Iardas said.
Broadway and Roehampton avenues would become a promenade with enhanced greenery as sites along those streets between Yonge and Rawlinson Avenue. That multi-use promenade would link Eglinton Park, Northern District Library, North Toronto Collegiate Institute, Northern Secondary School.
“Setbacks would be applied in the area at a minimum of 7.5 metres along one side of Broadway and one side of Roehampton such that not only is that promenade achieved, but also the greater landscaping that we’re expecting in that green, spacious character,” Farish said.
Farish noted many parts of the plan, including wider setbacks on some streets, would not be achievable until plans came through calling for redevelopment. The secondary plan would also not apply to existing development applications.
“It’s not achieved unless there is some kind of development,” he said. “Should an application come in (after the Secondary Plan is in place) and we have this in place (it would take effect.)”
While Monday’s meeting looked primarily at public realm considerations, with further public consultation and planning slated to tackle built form and development limitations. Farish said a proposal to council regarding those elements was expected to be completed and presented to council by the end of the year.
St. Paul’s councillor Josh Matlow said the plan would set strict guidelines that would ensure the Yonge/Eglinton area would maintain its character while hopefully minimizing additional burdens on its already taxed infrastructure – particularly transit and schools.
He noted developments in the area are often referred to the Ontario Municipal Board, when they can be rubber-stamped without the community and its needs being taken into account.
“The stronger the plan is, the better chance we have when presenting at the OMB to make a strong case,” he said.
The draft secondary plan policies are slated to be reviewed by the City of Toronto next month. Anyone looking to weigh in on the plan can view it online at www.toronto.ca/planning/midtowninfocus and add their voice to the process by contacting Ian Malczewski of Swerhun Facilitation at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, March 30.
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