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Beach Triangle Residents Association

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The Beach Triangle Residents Association, Toronto, Ontario

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Neighbourhood Groups Win Development Changes

By John Ellis and Hans Looije
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The Greater Beach Neighbourhood Association (GBNA) is incorporated to concentrate and reinforce the views of local associations in seeking the best possible development planning. The GBNA has as members virtually all local residents associations, including the BTRA, and are also seeking memberships from individuals living in the area. Another group, Friends of Queen Street (FoQS), is tightly focused on the Queen East streetscape and is supporting GBNA aggressively in fighting developments currently in progress that are clearly not in keeping with traditional Beach values.

These groups coordinated a standing-room-only meeting at the Kew Beach School Gym on April 12, and our Councillor, Mary-Margaret McMahon organized another well-attended community meeting with good representation from news media on April 30, both meetings largely focused on a condo proposal for the Licks site. Residents objected to the condo being greatly out of character, with four storeys facing Queen Street and only two storeys set back, as well as a large, unattractive east wall.

City Planning takes the view that the over-arching goal of the Official Plan is greater density on "Avenues" that are well-served by transit, that Beach residents have had ample opportunity to make their objections known, and that all of the proposed re-developments are small in size compared with many others across the city.

As a result of the work of the residents groups and the impact of the community meetings, the Licks site developer, Fentons, has agreed to some enhancement to the side walls, brick facing on Queen Street, and more landscaping, and Councillor McMahon has won a concession that the building will be three storeys (rather than four) on Queen with three storeys set back. This revised proposal went to the Toronto East York Community Council on May 15 and was passed unanimously.

Also cited is the new building on the Pier One site to house a new LCBO branch, proposed to be one storey but four storeys tall, absolutely out of character with the Queen East streetscape. A large delegation of area residents at the Committee of Adjustment hearing resulted in the LCBO proposal being turned down. Based on meeting with the neighbourhood groups, the developer has now modified this plan but not sufficiently to gain full approval from residents.

Councillor McMahon has also initiated a Visioning Study. She has committed that the City Planning Department will not approve any new development along Queen east of Coxwell until the study is complete. She is looking for input from ALL parties including neighbourhood residents and business owners.

Looking at the historical perspective, developers had plans for 20-storey condos on the former racetrack lands. Residents and Councillor Tom Jakobec had a vision of all parkland. We got a compromise that is better than the old racetrack - residential and parkland.

Regarding the Triangle, the condo at 200 Woodbine is unlikely to be affected by results of the Visioning Study as it is just another condo in an area that is more than 50% condos already. Plans for the building have already been filed with the City Planning Department to beat an increase in development fees, but the application is on hold. Public consultation on the development is slated for late Fall. Plans for the former Shell station lot are uncertain, due to the need for soil remediation, expected to postpone any development for about two years. A pit will be excavated and contaminated soil removed at a cost of about $2M.

What is your vision for Queen Street East? Contact Mary Margaret McMahon: mmcmaho3@toronto.ca.

The GBNA is looking for volunteers. It takes a lot of money and a lot of time to keep groups going. The people who are now very involved in the fight for the Beach brought up the fact that there needs to be a lot more 'us' than 'you guys need to.....' Check them out at: www.gbna-toronto.com.