February 23rd, 2014
CURBING EROSION: Design guidelines for Forest Hill Village would ensure all future developments in the area are in keeping with the look of the neighbourhood.
Councillor Josh Matlow is on a mission to protect Forest Hill Village and to ensure it doesn’t become a distant memory.
“It is of the utmost importance, because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever,” he said in an interview. “So much of our city’s heritage has been destroyed in the false name of progress, and I don’t believe that progress destroys.”
Calling it one of Toronto’s three remaining unique enclaves that still feel like a village — the other two being Cabbagetown and the Beach — Matlow says some recent developments along Spadina Road, nestled between Coulson Avenue and Heath Street West, are taking away from that village feel.
He cited the “metallic-looking box” that is the LCBO as an example of a structure that doesn’t fit into the character of the street.
“I think it really destroys what we love about the village, which is the fact that it looks like a village,” he said. “So I want to be proactive and make sure there are guidelines in place.”
Now those guidelines are on the way.
In January, Toronto and East York community council adopted a plan to look at forming urban design guidelines for Forest Hill Village.
It’s a process that would set rules for any development applications in the area. It would take about a year to put in place once given the green light by the city.
Matlow said he expects it to be a consultative process that will include input from the Forest Hill Village BIA as well as members of the community, and will be a plan inclusive of much more than just height and density limits.
The design guidelines, while not formally a part of the city’s Official Plan, will equip the city’s planning department with parameters to help development applications in Forest Hill Village stay onside, Matlow said.
Yvonne Bambrick, co-ordinator for the Forest Hill Village BIA, said that since 2009 her organization has been working on implementing a streetscape master plan, which would work alongside any development guidelines set out by the city’s planning department.
“The Forest Hill Village BIA is encouraged by Councillor Matlow’s announcement,” she said. “(We will) be supportive of the creation of development design guidelines for the village as long as they are determined through consultation with the BIA and other local stakeholders, and inclusive of our input.”
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