Development proposal for Broadview Avenue church site headed towards Ontario Land Tribunal hearing

A development proposal for St. John's Presbyterian Church, at 415 Broadview Ave., is expected to go to an Ontario Land Tribunal hearing. Inset image from the LCH Developments' website shows an artist's rendering of the proposal.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The first steps in an Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) hearing on a development proposal for a church site on Broadview Avenue has started this month.

A Case Management Conference was held by the OLT on Feb. 7 for the proposal for 415 Broadview Ave., just north of Gerrard Street East. The site is the location of St. John’s Presbyterian Church.

A 10-storey addition is proposed to be built on the site while maintaining the front section of the church that faces Broadview Avenue.

The development application proposal was first made to the City of Toronto by LCH Developments in December of 2021.

As consideration of the plan worked it’s through the city’s approval process, planning staff raised a number of concerns.

“The proposal is not acceptable in its current form,” read the application’s preliminary report from the city. “The proposed height, deployment of density, and heritage conservation strategy do not comply with the Official Plan or respond appropriately to the existing and planned context.”

The proposed addition will be 35 metres tall, and rise significantly above the church’s existing tower.

Other recommendations from the city included the addition of an affordable housing component to the development proposal.

With the city yet to make a final decision on the project, LCH (as is its right) has taken the plan directly to the OLT so that a ruling can be made.

LCH are no strangers to developing on top of religious buildings. In 2018, the company completed the Leslieville Church Lofts at 175 Jones Ave.; a four-storey condominium building with 14 luxury units.

The OLT hearing is still in its early stages and it could be months before any ruling is made.

A community consultation meeting hasn’t yet been scheduled for this proposal, but many residents in the area have voiced concerns via an online forum on Urban Toronto.

Most of the community’s issues surround the aesthetics of the proposal which was inspired by a similar building in Boston called The Lucas. For more information on The Lucas, please go to – https://www.luxuryboston.com/The-Lucas-South-End

According to Ryan Debergh, development manager for LCH, the developer even hired the same architect who designed The Lucas, Finegold Alexander, to lead this project.

However, community complaints say the plan for 415 Broadview Ave. does not do as good as job as The Lucas in blending the heritage look and feel of the existing church with the new condos attached to it.

LCH intends to demolish the inside of the church while maintaining the outside facade.

According to Debergh who addressed some of the online complaints, the church “would not be able to complete the growing list of repairs associated with the building without major investment.”

A member of St. John’s Presbyterian Church’s planning committee, Laurie McGugan, reiterated his comment.

“We have spent over six years exploring all options for the building and came to this solution with full support of the congregation and Presbyterian Church,” said McGugan of the plan by LCH.

As part of the development proposal, the church congregation will be able to access a smaller space within the new building for its services.

McGugan said that it is possible the congregation will be out of the church for two years “depending on many factors”. They will be looking into other spaces in the neighbourhood where their members can meet during the construction period.

St. John’s Presbyterian Church was built in 1908. Toronto Council voted to designate it a Heritage Property in late 2022.

Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.


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