By ALAN SHACKLETON
A bid to sever a single-family home lot on Gerrard Street East is heading to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal next month.
If approved, the house at 2165 Gerrard St. E., between Main Street and Norwood Road, will be demolished and replaced by a pair of four-plexes and two laneway houses for a total of 10 residential units.
The developer, P & R Developments says the proposal meets the City of Toronto’s need for “missing middle” housing.
Opponents, however, say the severance of the lot and the loss of the house will set a precedent for future developments and change the character of the neighbourhood.
Missing middle is a term used by municipalities and developers to describe housing that is generally medium density and medium affordability. Examples include duplexes, laneway housing, low-rise walk-up apartments, and more. The city is currently pushing for an increase in missing middle housing.
Development proposals for 2165 Gerrard St. E. have been in the works for more than a year, and have been met with resistance by many neighbourhood residents.
The current proposal is going to the LPAT on appeal by P & R Developments after the severance request was refused by Toronto’s Committee of Adjustment (CoA) in December of 2020. The LPAT hearing is expected to take place in June.
The CoA denied the severance request for a number of reasons including “the suitability of the land for the purpose for which it is to be subdivided has not been demonstrated to be in the interest of public good” and “the adequacy of roads, vehicular access, parking and loading facilities has not been adequately demonstrated.”
In a statement sent to Beach Metro News last week, P & R Developments said the proposed development will be a benefit to the community while providing much-needed housing options.
“P & R Developments is a missing-middle developer. We believe in building projects that maximize the amount of livable space while maintaining the look and feel of the neighbourhood,” said Rolf Paloheimo, president of P & R.
“The community benefits when it is open to more people. Toronto is in the midst of a housing shortage, and it is exacerbated by a lack of options between expensive single-family housing and highrise condominiums that rarely have space for families. With large, multi-bedroom apartments, our project will give our residents housing options that are currently extremely rare in the City of Toronto.”
However, the present tenant of the house at 2165 Gerrard St. E. said his family is the definition of what the missing middle is, and the proposal for the property will not help them find housing in Toronto. “They say they’re adding to the missing middle, but my family is the missing middle,” said Jeff Moneo. “We’re the missing middle ourselves, but we’re getting pushed out of the neighbourhood.”
Moneo, his wife and two children began renting the house in 2018 with a different owner as their landlord.
He said that owner sold to P & R Developments five months after they moved in, and they been living with the fact they will be evicted once development plans move forward.
He said the house was built in the 1890s and is a wonderful home for his family. Moneo said the residential units which are proposed to replace the house would not work for a family such as his. He is very worried that the character and appeal of many of Toronto’s neighbourhoods are being negatively impacted by affordability issues facing families looking for housing that meets their needs.
“If your city is not affordable for young families, then you no longer have a city because kids aren’t growing up in it,” he said.
Moneo said he feels splitting the lot in two to increase the number of units is too much, and suggested that a plan in which the current house offers a basement apartment and one laneway house is built would be a much better solution.
Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford has been following the process for 2165 Gerrard St. E. plans since they were first discussed though councillors are not members of the LPAT or Committee of Adjustment.
He said it is important that a balance be struck between the need for missing middle housing and the character of the neighbourhood.
“We have to find the right balance to deliver housing at a time when our city desperately needs it. And it’s not just more condo supply we need, it’s two-bedroom units at a livable, walkable scale,” said Bradford.
“The reality is we just don’t have many options outside of the million-dollar home or the small starter condo, and that’s not sustainable for any city.”