Parking, affordability concerns raised by residents at community meeting on development proposal for Benlamond Avenue site

A Community Consultation Meeting on a proposal to build a four-storey apartment building at 9 Benlamond Ave. took place on June 12. Photo by Alan Shackleton.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A Community Consultation Meeting for a development proposal at 9 Benlamond Ave., in the Main Street and Gerrard Street East area, took place on Monday, June 12.

At the meeting were City Planner Sean Guenther; Planning Consultant Christian Chan; Arborist Consultant Kyle Berwick; Engineering Consultant Grant Kauffman; Studio JCI architects Samantha Carnevale and Jaegap Chung; and a representative for Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford’s office, Madison Leisk.

The zoning bylaw amendment application is for a four-storey low-rise apartment building just west of Main Street. Currently at this site is a low-rise detached residential building that has vehicular access from Benlamond Avenue.

Residents gathered online Monday evening to discuss the proposal which will see 16 residential units added to the community. The units will consist of one single-bedroom unit; one two-bedroom; six two-bedroom units with a den; six three-bedroom units; and two three-bedroom units with a den.

At the moment, it is unclear whether these units will be for rent or sold as the building’s tenure is yet to be decided by the applicant, according to Chung.

The biggest concern raised by those in attendance was regarding parking. Although the city bylaws previously required 23 vehicle parking spots, the applicant’s proposal only includes six spaces since City Council amended parking space regulations on Oct. 12, 2022.

One community member reported that as a resident of the area, he has noticed that the roads are “fairly congested with parking on the street” and suggested that the proposal needs to include more parking spaces to avoid further congestion.

Chan explained that Toronto Council removed the requirement for parking spaces in low-rise buildings last year with the intention of having new developments relying less on vehicular transportation.

He also suggested that the neighbourhood is “extremely well served by transit” as well as having many bike paths and doesn’t require as many parking spaces as perhaps residents living in a more suburban environment. But, one community member said that this theory doesn’t account for the winter months when biking isn’t an option for most.

“There is no parking minimum [required by the City] except for two visitor parking spaces,” said Chung. “But we really wanted to provide more than minimum so we’re providing six vehicle parking.”

However, another resident highlighted the essential nature of parking spaces in such a building since the applicant is marketing it to people with families with children. She mentioned this because the applicant said the aim of this building is to provide housing in the “missing middle”, a term used to describe the lack of low-rise, single family homes, and mid rise apartment buildings in the city. The building also mostly consists of two and three-bedroom units in order to cater to families with children.

“We need a car because we have to travel with our children,” said the community member. “Plus we have four bicycles for our family so I don’t really see how you’re addressing that issue. I just think you’re missing the point of what a family needs in terms of parking and accessibility for bicycles.”

As far as bicycle spaces, Chung said that the application proposes 20 – more than the required 16 spaces – due to the building being located in close proximity to some of the major bike transit areas.

Other suggestions made by participants included adding speed bumps in an area that is susceptible to speeding especially since the building will be increasing traffic on Benlamond Avenue., as well as an affordable units component.

Amanda, a resident at the current site which provides affordable units for families pointed out that although it hasn’t been decided whether the building’s units will be for rent or sale, she believes that, considering the current state of housing in Toronto, it would be “heartbreaking” for the City of Toronto to greenlight tearing down affordable units and replacing them with condos.

“Potentially, you’re demolishing affordable housing with yard space for families to build condominiums,” she said. “I think that’s something that needs to be addressed.”

Although unable to speak on the current lack of affordable units in the plan, Chan said that the City of Toronto has secured special needs compensation, rental assistance and move-out allowances for current tenants of 9 Benlamond Ave. as required by city policy.

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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More parking will only increase congestion. This multiplex is being planned in a very transit and walking accessible neighbourhood. We need affordable units and not requiring car ownership increases affordability.

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