Over 100 East End residents gathered on very short notice in the cafeteria at Malvern Collegiate Institute on Wednesday, Oct. 3 to hear about Build Toronto’s proposal for about 20 acres of land east of Victoria Park and north of Gerrard Street East, known as the Quarry Lands.
Most of the crowd were members of Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development (CCQLD), a group formed in opposition to a proposal for seven high rise residential towers on the eastern portion of the land. Build Toronto has been charged with coming up with a plan for the remainder of the land, an oddly shaped, irregular parcel wrapped around and sandwiched between the Conservatory Group’s proposed building site, a rail line, two gas stations and a retail plaza.
At the start of the presentation, Build Toronto’s Prakash David pointed out that despite the group’s stance on the Conservatory Group’s proposal, the evening would only focus on the parcel his organization has been charged with developing.
“This is the only piece of land that we own, this is the only thing we’re talking about tonight,” he said.
David then went on to list the numerous challenges associated with developing the land in question.
“It is contaminated land,” he said. Core samples from the landfilled areas included copper, boron, lead, arsenic, methane, organic vapours and other contaminants. He said those issues must be dealt with before the land can be developed.
There are also a number of large pipes – including a water main, storm sewers and combined sewers – that can’t be moved or built on, running through several portions of the land. There are a number of mature trees that will be saved, as well as a setback from the rail line that must be maintained for any residential dwellings.
“It’s not a typical development property, it’s a very challenging property,” said David.
He said the detailed plan, once set out, will focus on several key points. Housing will be developed “in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood.” That means wood-framed housing, possibly a mix of single-family houses, semi-detached homes and townhouses, or possibly stacked townhouses, to a maximum of four storeys. He estimated roughly 200 homes will be built on the property.
Another key issue is to ensure the development, which is also to include a retail portion fronting onto Victoria Park, will not make a poor traffic situation worse. Build Toronto will also ensure that the land currently zoned as parkland – about 4.5 acres, or a bit less than a quarter of the property – will remain as a park.
Many in the crowd were concerned about what impact the Build Toronto plan would have on the Conservatory Group’s plans for towers to the east. Mark Brender from the CCQLD said any development similar to the surrounding area, such as the low-rise housing David talked about, would be a help and would increase the influence of the character of the area. He also pointed out that in less than three years, Build Toronto had changed from a possible high density plan of their own to one much more favourable to the neighbourhood to the south of the site.
“The kinds of things we were talking about at that time were quite different from what we’re talking about today,” he said. “We think Build has moved a long way from the kinds of things we were talking about two and a half years ago.”
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Whatever happened to a parklands study?? Mid-term, municipally, and I haven’t heard or read anything about this option to address the proposed Quarry Lands developments. It was something Gary Crawford and other Ward 36 candidates included in their campaign programmes last municipal election. Has a parklands study been pursued? If not, why? And why hasn’t CCQLD pushed this option? Nothing should be moving forward until such a study has been done – whether Build Toronto or the Conservatory Group (not to mention terminating Beach Fairway Golf Range’s lease).
Also, I’m one of many in the community who are very disappointed with the loss of the driving range. So, people will have to jump in their cars and go how far to do this, now? And all that talk about staying active, fit, etc. – well, just talk. And we’re losing the range for what? – more retail space??? We have empty stores in the existing shopping mall at Victoria Park/Gerrard. At Shoppers’ World. And on nearby main street retail strips – along Danforth Ave., Kingston Rd. and Queen St. East. Just makes the loss of the driving range and those unheeded 7,000 signatures even harder to take. Cheers for a liveable city!