Two towers near Yonge-Eglinton to be put on hold?
City staff want the OMB to halt a development until capacity concerns are addressed
Image via the City of Toronto
City of Toronto staff have requested a two-tower condo development by Times Group in the Yonge-Eglinton area be put on hold until infrastructure can keep up with an influx of new residents. Staff are concerned about the strain so much development is putting on resources such as public transportation, schools, parks, water and sewage.
On April 4, the Toronto and East York community council approved a city planning report that requests the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) put a hold on any future decision concerning the development pending more information.
The Times Group had previously appealed to the OMB to get the necessary approvals for the proposal for 1925-1951 Yonge St., 17-21 Millwood Rd. and 22 Davisville Ave.
The OMB was abolished on April 3 of this year, and replaced with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. However, the OMB is tasked with overseeing all development proposals submitted before that date.
Councillor Josh Matlow of Ward 22, St. Paul’s, said the problems in the Yonge-Eglinton area began when the OMB declared it a high-growth area in 2005 without ensuring that the infrastructure and services would be able to keep up with the density.
“I agree with the intent behind it,” Matlow said. “Here’s the problem: nothing in the provincial legislation ensured that adequate social services and infrastructure would keep up with that piece of growth.”
Matlow said the Midtown in Focus study, which is still underway, has found that if development in the area continues at its current rate, there is a concern that there won’t be adequate water and sewage capacity for new residents.
“The city has determined that there is a real fear that if some developments take place now, including the Times Group development, that there could be a genuine concern about sewer and water infrastructure for that building,” he said. “I also added that school capacity and transit capacity should be considered as part of the development as well because it’s not anecdotal any longer, there’s real concern now about school capacity.”
The Times Group development, which would comprise a 25-storey tower and a 34-storey tower between Davisville Avenue and Millwood Road on Yonge Street, would be built adjacent to Davisville Junior Public School.
Matlow said the development would be a detriment to the quality of life for area residents.
“It would be frankly irresponsible to approve buildings where you can’t be sure that they will have those basic services and infrastructure,” he said. “Then you’re just approving the development rather than approving good planning and a good community. We’re going to do everything we can to fight the development so it’s not approved.”
Andy Gort, President of the South Eglinton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (SERRA), said he is concerned about overdevelopment in the Yonge-Eglinton area because the schools and transit systems are already severely crowded, and only a small fraction of condos slated for development have been built so far.
“We’re starting to really notice infrastructure creaking quite badly and most of the growth that’s planned for this area hasn’t really arrived yet, so it’s making us quite worried that if we get more buildings approved that we’re really going to run into trouble in four or five years, especially if it’s showing up now,” he said.
Cassidy Ritz, project manager with the city planning strategic initiatives unit, said the city is still in the process of finalizing the Midtown in Focus study, and they are now assessing the impact new developments will have on the area in the long-term.
“We do know there is a concern related to the schools’ capacity in the area that the school board has identified, and we do know we have constraints on the line one subway, so these are some of the well-known challenges,” she said. “How those will get resolved on any particular site is going to be different, and so we’re still assessing that.”
Ritz said the city is revising the plan and finishing the infrastructure assessment so they can report to the June Planning and Growth Management Committee meeting.
The issue will be considered by City Council on April 24.