Four towers proposed for Prince hotel site

City planning staff concerned with a loss of employment lands in the area


Published:

A rendering of what the development at 900 York Mills Rd. could look like

A developer has submitted a proposal to add several towers around the long-standing Westin Prince hotel on York Mills Road, but city policy could stop the bid for increased density.

In October, an application was submitted to the City of Toronto to amend the official plan and zoning bylaws at 900 York Mills Rd. to allow two mixed-use towers of 32 and 26 storeys and an eight-storey office building. The proposal also calls for a 10-storey addition on the north side of the hotel that would include a new ballroom and conference centre. 

In a city planning report issued in March, staff expressed “significant concerns.” Sarah Ovens, the city planner handling the file, said chief among them is the request to convert the site from an employment area, which the city defines as a place of “business and economic activity,” to a mixed-use area, which could support condos.

“First and foremost would be the land-use issue,” she said. “One of our big employment policies in our official plan is to conserve what employment lands that we have currently because, once it gets converted to something that’s not employment, it’s not going to go back to employment most likely.”

“The neighbours would like to see whatever is built to be of the same high standards as the hotel.”

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong of Ward 34, argued the proposal would result in a net gain in jobs for the area. 

“They are actually building one or two commercial buildings, plus they’re expanding the hotel, so, in fact, they’re creating more jobs than are there already,” he said. 

According to a study prepared for the landowner, the proposed development would support 1,460 jobs at the site, versus a current estimate of 300. 

“The proposed development would generate a variety of financial benefits that would flow directly to the City of Toronto,” it read.

At a May 7 community meeting at the Westin Prince concerning the possible redevelopment, Minnan-Wong said attendees noted the importance of the existing hotel. 

“The neighbours would like to see whatever is built to be of the same high standards and quality as the hotel,” he said. “There was a general agreement from the community that the Westin Prince Hotel is an asset to the neighbourhood.” 

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