Quarry Lands development plan gets fresh look

If you are among a growing group of people who think that a final decision on the development of the Quarry Lands may outlast us all, you could be right. Despite the multiple efforts of elected representatives from two levels of government, negotiations by City Build, and a very proactive community organization, Gerrard Clonmore Development (GCD) still could choose to build seven high-rise towers on the site – a plan that might have been suitable in the 1960s but not in today’s Gerrard/Clonmore neighbourhood.

The problem is not that no one is trying to find a solution. Councillor Gary Crawford spent many long hours this summer attempting to broker a deal. Working with City Planning, Transportation Services, City Build (the city’s arm’s length agency responsible for developing City of Toronto land holding), community groups and the owners of GCD, Crawford thought he might have a fix. Build Toronto approached GCD with a plan to swap the Quarry Lands for another city-held property on Grangeway Avenue.

One of the major conditions of a swap was that GCD get a piece of land with similar density rights as the Quarry Lands.

The Grangeway Avenue property is of similar value to the Quarry Lands near to the Scarborough Civic Centre and a TTC Rapid Transit Station, an area much more suited to high-rise development.

Crawford was optimistic about the proposal because such a plan had not been tried before. “I felt this was a unique opportunity to find a reasoned solution that would benefit the community and the developer,” he wrote in an update to his constituents.

While negotiations continue until Oct. 19, City Build and GCD could not come to an agreement.

Crawford plans to hold a meeting with the Concerned Citizens for the Quarry Lands Development (CCQLD) and other community stakeholders to discuss how to proceed from here.

However, the plight of the Quarry Lands has drawn the attention of York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. The area will be the basis of a year-long project by faculty and second-year Masters students enrolled in a bioregional planning course.

The project will consider the full Quarry Lands area,  not as the current planning dictates, but as a blank slate. In  a release to its members the CCQLD  said that the faculty and students will take into account real-life environmental and site conditions factors, but not by current land ownership rights. “In this way, they hope to illustrate the kinds of outcomes that could take place on this land if good planning, city building and environmental stewardship are taken as top priorities.”

“CCQLD believes this exercise can only help our cause, as it will provide us with an unbiased assessment of the opportunity represented by potential development that makes sense both from a planning perspective and for the community.”

As part of the course process, the York students would like to hear from community members directly. They need to  incorporate what the neighbourhood believes the Quarry Lands might be, as well as any concerns that exist. The students will be holding a community workshop, Thursday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m., at Variety Village (3701 Danforth Ave, just east of Birchmount Road). The CCQLD hopes to have a strong community turnout for this event.

Space is limited, however. If you would like to attend, please RSVP as soon as possible to course instructor Steve Heuchert at sheucher@hotmail.com.

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How heartening to see that York University and its Masters students are involved in looking at the quarry lands as a blank slate. I could hardly stomach the grim scenario
of 7 high-rise towers.

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