There is great potential for our area laneways for redevelopment such as coach houses and townhouse development. The example below is a good example of a coach house that offers much needed parking/garage space with the potential for a "granny flat" or office studio space above. As more and more residents move away form car ownership and opt for public transit or short term car rentals such as zip car, the need for private parking may diminish. We are currently compiling stats on how many people actually use the laneways for car and delivery access. Many neighbours find the laneways uninviting and scary and opt instead for street parking. Laneways need to be spruced up and kept clear of broken glass and garbage to encourage legitimate foot traffic through the neighbourhood. The more eyes on the laneways make for a safer and cleaner environment. By allowing infill housing such as the townhouses in the photo left to be built in our area laneways, we can increase the housing stock in the neighbourhood and bring new life to otherwise under utilized back alleys. For the City of Toronto Guidelines on Infill Housing, please click here.http://www.toronto.ca/planning/urbdesign/infilltownhousing.htm
The city needs to come to terms with their responsibilities concerning snow clearance and other maintenance issues. Our recent neighbourhood cleanup concentrated efforts on the area laneways and there was a lot of litter, evidence of illegal dumping and a considerable amount of dog poop. Property owners are reminded to take some care in the laneways behind and adjacent to their properties. A small pile of debris can quickly escalate to a dumping ground. Please report illegal dumping and dog owners who do not stoop and scoop and report them to 311 Toronto.
There is currently some opposition to laneway infill projects by City Departments such as Fire and Solid Waste Management in reference to how large fire trucks, garbage trucks might maneuver in narrow laneways. European Cities have come to terms with narrow streets and laneways; we can too.
This laneway running parallel to Sherbourne Street along the back of the Dan Harrison Complex to the east and Seaton Street to the west is a pretty good example of how not to add midrise development to the neighbourhood. The Dan Harrison Building looms large over the neighbouring residential housing on Seaton Street. Built right up to the lot line, there is no consideration for the privacy, light etc. overlooking the neighbouring backyards behind. The laneway is often littered with discarded furniture and garbage and is one of the most uninviting places in the neighbourhood. The complex likely started out as more open and allowed for pedestrian traffic to flow through the complex between the laneway and Sherbourne Street. Several units within the complex actually had street/laneway doors from their units which accessed small porches and patios. Since then, fences and gates were installed, probably to address security and access problems, creating many uninviting and under utilized areas around the complex. The Dan Harrison Complex has many problems around security, safety and is far too much for the neighbourhood. The complex should be rethought and a better and workable plan brought forward.
Named after the former hospital, now Sherbourne Health, this lane is a combination of parking, coach houses and even a good sized playground serving a low rise apartment building near the north end. The lots backing along Seaton Street are especially deep and there would be some potential for new coach houses or infill townhouses.
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