Volume 4, Issue 6, October/November 2015
If you live or work in downtown Toronto, Canada, between Parliament and Sherbourne, Carlton and Shuter Streets, then we are your neighbourhood residents' association. Join us!
Our Next Gathering will be our Christmas Party Wednesday December 2nd, 2015 6:30 pm
Please join us for our annual Christmas Party at the Retsina Restaurant 209 Gerrard Street East (near Seaton).
Tickets for the Christmas Party will go on sale soon. Watch for the email regarding our annual neighbourhood Christmas Party in the days to come.
Car Break In Alert! We have heard of several vehicle break ins in the last couple of weeks. We remind neighbours not to leave anything of value in your car and tuck things out of sight. If you notice anyone checking out parked vehicles please call 416 808 2222. If you see a break in in progress please call 911.
Sherbourne/Gerrard Redevelopment Proposal
The vacant lot at Sherbourne and Gerrard has recently been purchased by ObenFlats, a property developer which is proposing a 13 story market rate apartment building for that site. Councillor McConnell and staff wanted an opportunity for neighbours to informally look at the plan and offer suggestions, concerns, etc. prior to the broader Community Consultation meeting. Therefore we arranged a brief meeting with immediate neighbours, members of our Board and members of the Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation District Advisory Committee. To see the plan please click here.
Immediate neighbours voiced concerns about the size and the architectural style of the building. The concern about potential shading of Gerrard Street and Allan Gardens was also raised.
Other neighbours indicated they liked the idea of market rate apartments and liked the architectural design of the building and the need to redevelop the long vacant lot.
The HCD Advisory Committee is concerned about the height and the look of the building and how the proposed building would impact on the heritage character of the neighbourhood. They cited the row of Victorian houses south of Gerrard on Sherbourne as a good example of architectural conservancy in the neighbourhood. They felt that although our area has not yet been designated, the neighbourhood is slated for study as a Heritage Conservation District and any new development should be subject to height and design in keeping with the surrounding streetscape.
In contrast, we were also advised that the city had previously identified the Gerrard/Sherbourne property as a potential "tall buildings site". The 2013 Tall Buildings Design Guideline states that a well designed and appropriately sized building can make a positive contribution to an historical setting, which would suggest that the proposal at 13 stories is in line with City planning regulations. The developer also provided a shading study which did seem to indicate the shading of Allan Gardens is not an issue.
Some area residents felt the increased density with new tenants able to pay market rent would help increase the economic development of retail and commercial buildings on Gerrard Street. Others felt the height of the building is in keeping with Sherbourne Streetscape and were relieved that a much taller building was not being proposed.
ObenFlats is now reviewing their design based on comments received and will be moving their development proposal forward. The next step will be a formal neighbourhood meeting hosted by City of Toronto Planning Department and Councillor McConnell. At that time residents will be encouraged to voice their opinion on the project. In the coming months, Heritage Toronto will also need to host public meetings regarding Heritage Designation of the neighbourhood and again give area residents an opportunity to voice their support or concerns.
A broader community consultation meeting hosted by our City Planner and Councillor McConnell, will be organized soon. We will advise members when we are notified of the time and date.
Redevelopment in the Downtown East Neighbourhoods.
With ongoing redevelopment popping up around us, we might want to look at what is happening in other east end neighbourhoods. The area around Dundas East and Logan/ Carlaw has seen a number of new mid-rise buildings (see photo) in the last couple of years as well as infill townhouses along its residential side streets. The mid-rise buildings at major intersections have commercial/retail space on the main floor, housing cafes, etc., something Sherbourne Street lacks. The surrounding residential side streets are a healthy mix of mature housing stock and infill townhouses which draw family owner occupied-households. It would appear that most development is at the major intersections and the residential side streets are protected by zoning that limits height and density.
Regent Park seems to be redeveloping at a higher density levels with less townhouse infill and more mid to high rise apartment/condo development more reminiscent of the St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood. The redevelopment at Regent Park seems to be more focused on increasing the economic level of the community by upping the number of market rate housing units.
Sherbourne Street and the Garden District have a significant number of geared to income housing units in the blocks from Queen to Carlton and a similar approach in raising the economic level of the community with market rate housing would help greatly in raising the standard of commercial/retail activity. The area desperately needs a broader range of residents with more disposable income to impact on the commercial/retail main streets in the area. The Cabbagetown Preservation Association is concerned about redevelopment and the increase of mid and high rise buildings in this area. However, moderate intensification also brings more shops, cafes and the like into an area which is also something we need. Planning which brings jobs to the area is also important. The neighbourhood is under review/study for Heritage Conservation District designation which is set to begin in 2016 and the added protection under this designation may be helpful in retaining the heritage architecture of our residential side streets. However we need to carefully consider how designation might limit infill along our main streets and might want to consider if certain major streets and major intersection should be subject to less stringent height and density restrictions.
What is too high for our main street intersections and who should decide? Currently, developers can point to similar height and lot density in an area as a precedent for new development. Sherbourne Street has several large apartment blocks to the north and south of us and developers can argue that similar heights elsewhere in the neighbourhood do not threaten the character of the surrounding residential streets and neighbourhoods.Property owners in the Garden District to the west of us are already challenging proposed HCD designation at the OMB. That proposed Heritage Conservation District overlaps our area on Sherbourne Street and there is also a study in place to designate our area, although it is not clear whether our main streets/intersections would be included. The study area is not yet carved in stone and there may be some remapping of the boundaries to allow for infill housing proposals.
George Street Revitalization Project moves to Executive Committee and Council for Approval
The George Street revitalization project and Seaton House revamp will likely be approved by City Council in the coming weeks. In 2013, City Council approved in principal the revitalization of George Street through the co-location of long term care, shelter services and a community hub in a new facility to replace Seaton House. We continue to push for the placement of new shelter beds and transitional housing throughout the city and hope that the Salvation Army Maxwell Meighan hostel on Sherbourne will also revamp their hostel programs to help reduce the concentration of men's shelter beds in the downtown east neighborhoods. For further information about the George Street revitalization please click here.
Dealing with problematic properties in our area.
Area residents continue to meet with city staff regarding a long list of problematic properties in the area. City inspectors from various departments such as Health, Fire, and Safety, Police etc. have joined forces to try to combat poorly maintained and poorly managed properties. It is our understanding that most bylaw inspectors cannot enter properties unless invited to do so by the property owner or tenant. Many tenants are reluctant to initiate inspections out of fear of the landlord's reaction and fear of losing a roof over their heads. An approach where bylaw officers from different city departments visit properties in tandem seems to help in getting things done. Shabby repairs by unlicensed contractors is a big problem and quite frightening especially to those of us that own semi or row housing attached to poorly maintained and potentially dangerous properties.
Vacant properties however continue to be difficult to address under current rules and regulations. A property can sit vacant for years as long as the property is secure. Of course vacant building can eventually begin to deteriorate to the point where the structure is no longer sound and a danger to neighbours. This problem needs to be addressed.We continue to meet with Councillor McConnell and City staff and hope that our efforts will result in change at City Hall to more quickly address problematic properties/owners sooner. A Vacant Property Study is in the works which will hopefully help fix ongoing problems. For information on the study click here.
Duke of York School demolished at Shuter and Parliament
The Catholic District School Board has purchased the property and has demolished the Duke of York school and plans to redevelop the large plot with some sort of commercial/residential complex with a new school. Not sure whether we are looking at a new elementary school to replace the aging Park School at Queen and Sackville or the possibly a high school. Likely the new complex will be similar to other redevelopment in Regent Park which has some buildings of 30 storeys or more. No formal plan has been formalized, and until the property is redeveloped, a temporary park/green space will be managed by Toronto Parks and Recreation. There are a number of mosques and shops along Parliament across from the school property which at times creates parking problems along that stretch. Some additional parking would help alleviate that problem and hopefully any new development of the property would create some additional retail/commercial space to balance the west side of Parliament Street.
Rooming House operator loses yet another Rooming House License.
An elderly rooming house operator has lost yet another rooming house license in the area. There are now several former rooming houses in the area that now are operating without license. As a result the landlord is supposed to reduce the number of unrelated tenants to 4 per building. However, the landlord can reconfigure the properties into two or three apartments (with proper building permits) and continue to house a larger number of tenants. Duplexes and triplexes do not require the number of inspections that rooming houses do, a situation that City Council needs to fix. Poorly maintained rooming houses are likely to turn into poorly maintained duplexes or triplexes and need proper inspections to insure that the buildings are safe, secure and quiet. Revoking a rooming house license limits the number of tenants allowed in a rental property but also reduces the number of inspections bylaw officers can make on the property. City Hall needs to rethink how to make landlords better property managers and insure that bylaws function in getting the problems resolved. For information on proposed changes to the City of Toronto bylaws and enforcement practices around rooming houses please click here.
Toronto Enterprise Fund
The Toronto Enterprise Fund is a partnership among the United Way, the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, the City of Toronto and the Homelessness Partnering Strategy to support the implementation of social enterprises that provide transitional and permanent employment. They are also involved in training that leads to employment where participants gain training and work experience. An example of their programs and partnerships is KLINK coffee shop, an east end cafe that offers employment opportunities to former federal inmates. Giving employment opportunities to former inmates, who often end up in shelters and supportive housing, is an excellent opportunity to help move former offenders forward and improve their lot in life. A Klink coffee shop could be a welcome addition to our main streets such as Dundas Street. For information about Klink click here. For information about Toronto Enterprise Fund click here.
City Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan
The City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division is looking for input into a new revised 10 year plan to guide infrastructure development for parks. Parks and Recreational Facilities have become increasingly important in city neighbourhoods and good design, practices in maintenance and refurbishment of new and existing parks is essential in making the best use of our area greenspaces. We have certainly seen some interesting new concepts in park design around our area such as Underpass Park, The New Regent Park and Sherbourne Common at Sherbourne and Toronto Harbour. Both Moss Park and Allan Gardens need to be brought up to date and be better maintained and managed; fortunately both have been slated for refurbishment. The stress of two large men's hostels in our area has put a strain on these parks. Two things are long overdue; that the City have to rethink about the concentration of so many hostel beds in the area and that shelter services provide recreation programs (in conjunction with Parks and Rec.) for their clients.
For more information about how to give your input on the future needs or Parks and Recreation Programs click here. For information on proposed redevelopment and improvements of area parks please check out some of the links listed below.
Contact information and some interesting links
To renew your Cabbagetown South membership please click here
Councillor Pam McConnell email Councillor_mcconnell@toronto.ca
MPP Glen Murray email firstname.lastname@example.org
MP Bill Morneau email email@example.com
City of Toronto Tall Buildings Design Guide
The Moss Park/John Innis Redevelopment Project
For 51 Division Community Policing call 416 808 5152 and ask for Staff Sergeant Troup or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org . Or email in a complaint form for non emergency issues.
Raccoon Distemper cases on the rise in the GTA. for a recent article on the issue click here.
An interesting YouTube video on How to Make An Attractive City click here.
Animal Control Stoop and Scoop Regulations http://www.toronto.ca/311/knowledgebase/15/101000051015.html
Eyesore to Housing http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/106/ceraso.html