DIG IN:New Development
Ensure that new development improves and relates positively to the area
It is important that our community be concerned and informed about development plans. Early community response to plans can substantially improve the final development project. We must insist that development comes attached to local community benefits.
• Industrial Evolution, Toronto Star, story about local development
Galleria Mall Redevelopment
• General Electric Complex, The Standard
• "The Standard" Condo With Bad Attitude, Globe and Mail Story
• Go Transit, GO Transit plan jolts residents, Globe and Mail Story
• Lansdowne Homeless Shelter
• Ideas to Improve architecture, BETTER ARCHITECTURE / CITY-WIDE ARCHITECTURE INCUBATOR
Aug. 13, 2005.
Condominium projects are transforming abandoned factory lands into residential neighbourhood. Local residents want redevelopment that integrates with the community, writes Theresa Boyle
About four years ago, shortly after developers tore down a derelict industrial building on Lansdowne Ave., local resident Dyan Marie decided it was time to get a cat.
The rodent population in the neighbourhood exploded when the boarded-up eyesore, once home to the American Standard factory, was razed.
"No one wanted to touch those buildings for 20 or 30 years, so we were delighted when the developers moved in. But when they started cleaning it up, the mice and rats infested the neighbourhood," the local activist recounts.
Adopting her cat, Pip, was a small price to pay to see Lansdowne Ave. redeveloped. New condominiums and condo townhouses are now replacing abandoned factories, and the influx of new homeowners is revitalizing the neighbourhood.
"The rodent infestation was just a passing phase," laughs Marie, founder of DIG IN (Dupont Improvement Group: Improving the Neighbourhood.) "We're delighted we're getting these lands back on line. We do see the neighbourhood making huge improvements."
A century ago, factories were drawn to the neighbourhood because of three railway lines that run through it.
But most have since shut their doors and moved to cheaper, more accessible properties outside the downtown core. Like other former industrial sites in Toronto, such as Liberty Village, Lansdowne is now transitioning into a residential neighbourhood.
About 24 hectares of land on Lansdowne between Bloor St. and Davenport Ave. were formerly home to Canadian General Electric's Davenport Works, which set up shop in 1902. The Davenport Works churned out everything from locomotives and transformers to televisions.
Much of the land has now been purchased by developer Tom Falus. He has begun building about 210 stacked, two- and three-storey brick and stucco condominium townhouses on the southwest corner of Lansdowne and Bloor. Units in the project, known as Davenport Village, range in price from $204,990 to $309,990.
Next year, Falus hopes to begin converting a century-old building into 100 live-work, two-storey lofts.
"It has good bones. It will be brought back to its original glory," he says, speaking excitedly about what is now known simply as "Building 13," which fronts onto Lansdowne.
Falus, who has also built many rental units and houses in the area, sees Building 13 as his crown jewel.
Touring the dark, gritty interior, he boasts of its potential. Skylights that run the entire length of the building have been boarded up for decades. Falus plans to remove those boards and bathe the new lofts in natural light.
He hopes to do a similar conversion on an identical structure, adjacent to Building 13, rather than knock it down.
He also plans to spare a 216-foot-high smoke stack from the wrecking ball. It was once the second-tallest such structure in Canada.
For Marie, the best part of the development is seeing the toxic brownfields cleaned up. The former GE site is contaminated with such chemicals as trichloroethylene, a degreaser for metal.
"In the 1980s, this was the most toxic neighbourhood in Canada. A lot of work has been done to clean it up," she says.
Ward 18 Councillor Adam Giambrone has his fingers crossed for the future of the site.
"I'm really afraid that if you don't do it right, you just put up boring condos. Historical renovations cost more. The cheapest thing to do is put up boxes ...," he says. "There's a potential there for the absolutely most amazing development."
Giambrone is nervous because of some of Falus' earlier work in the area, namely the replacement of the former American Standard factory with a six-storey rental complex. The building, aptly named the Standard, is covered in stucco and its back faces onto Lansdowne.
"It's classic bad planning. There's only one point of vehicular access," Giambrone says. "What you have is an area that's cut off from the surrounding community."
Falus says he was constrained in building the Standard because he wanted to keep some of the old American Standard infrastructure intact. For example, he says he wanted to preserve some interior brick walls, and that meant having to insulate on the outside. The insulation, in turn, then had to be covered in stucco.
Marie is trying to get developers to work in tandem with area residents.
"Development is going to overtake this neighbourhood, no matter what we do. We just want to moderate it so that it integrates into the community. Development is a powerful force here," she says.
She and her group have been instrumental in lowering the height of some developments, and in promoting the existence of more green space.
For example, they were successful in fighting to lower the height of a 1,600-plus-unit development on the site of the existing Galleria Mall, on the corner of Dupont and Dufferin.
"We're not happy with everything developers are doing, but they are working to improve the neighbourhood. They're taking big financial risks to move into the neighbourhood. It's up to us to work with developers in a positive way," she says.
An artist, Marie has also helped create public artwork in the neighbourhood. The Walk Here Project, a work in progress, is a walkway connecting area parks. It includes displays of works by area artists, including Marie.
She says the area is a haven for artists.
"A lot of artists moved into the neighbourhood because Queen St. has become so expensive," she says. "This is the most reasonably priced neighbourhood that's still within the city."
Marie notes that plans are in the works to open two art galleries in the area this fall one on Dupont and another on Lansdowne.
But as with all regentrified neighbourhoods made cool by artists, conflict inevitably arises when developers purchase the land for redevelopment and displace artists from their affordable digs.
Such is the case with a former industrial building Falus owns on the northwest corner of Lansdowne and Dupont, now home to more than 25 artist studios. The developer plans to knock down the structure and build a commercial-residential complex there.
`In the 1980s, this was the most toxic neighbourhood in Canada. A lot of work has been done to clean it up'
Dyan Marie, local activist
It could become home to a drug store, a video store and a condominium tower. Falus is enthused about the project and hopes it will be among his proudest achievements, up there with the GE loft development.
Kitty corner to that is a new development that has met the satisfaction of both existing residents and developers.
The new, seven-storey, modern glass building, known as the Chelsea Lofts, will be ready for occupancy later this month.
Its 69 units range in price from $129,900 to $289,900, and the building is 75 per cent sold.
"It's a very urbane, contemporary design. We are very proud of our work," says developer Rashmi Nathwani.
The units boast nine-foot ceilings and large, warehouse-style windows.
The building also includes three ground-level retail units, one of which has already been purchased by a dentist.
"We go into areas in transition. That's what we do. It's where the land is most affordable," says Nathwani, who specializes in infill projects.
He says sales started off slowly, but picked up this summer. Asked about the slow start, he explains: "It's not College and Clinton yet."
Indeed, Lansdowne has long been known for its problems with drugs and prostitution. But that's changing, Nathwani says.
He points to a similar transition he saw when he built a development on Jarvis and George streets 10 years ago.
"There was a big problem with crack there, but as soon as we built, it went away," he explains.
Ross McKerron, who works with Falus, agrees.
"Development changes the tone of a neighbourhood. When you talk to planners, they talk a lot about having eyes on the street."
During the years that buildings sat idle on Lansdowne, there were no eyes on the street.
"It becomes an attraction for vagrancy and squatters," he explains. "Not that anyone is putting out the welcome mat for them, but no one is saying you're not welcome either."
Area residents are hopeful that a new police station, planned for the west side of Lansdowne just north of Bloor, will serve as a deterrent to crime.
"You're going to see more police presence ... and I think we're going to see an actual reduction in the drug and prostitution trade at Bloor and Lansdowne," Giambrone says.
Marie bristles at the media's fixation on the area's crime problems, choosing instead to focus on its assets.
Attractions include the Wallace Emmerson Community Centre, the Joseph Picininni Community Centre, Corso Itialia and Earlscourt Park.
Marie also points out the neighbourhood's vast array of quality eateries, including Piri-Piri Portuguese Churasqueira and Grill House on Dupont, Caldense Bakery and Pastries on Symington, Soul Food on Lansdowne and South Indian Dosa Mahal on Bloor. A new café, called Yasi's Place, is set to open on Wallace Ave. in the fall.
The restaurants reflect the neighbourhood's diversity. Many residents are of Portuguese and Italian heritage, while many people of South Asian and Southeast Asian heritage are moving in.
The area has always been a draw to new Canadians because of its affordability and proximity to the Lansdowne subway station and Bloor GO station.
The new condominiums are attracting a lot of young, single first-time buyers. Nathwani says the majority of purchasers at Chelsea Lofts are young urban professionals.
Many young people are moving onto Bloor St., just west of Lansdowne, where several condos are sprouting up, such as the Bloorline Lofts, Bloorwest Lofts, Bloor Street Station, Be Bloor and The Bloor.
McKerron says the neighbourhood is ideally situated between the Annex and Bloor West Village.
"It's still in the early days of its transformation. People who buy here now are ahead of the curve," he says.
"If I had to buy a house today, I would probably pick right in the Bloor-Lansdowne area. There are still a lot of challenges and I don't think we can underestimate them, but the area is incredibly undervalued in terms of property values," he says.
"You can still buy a house in the area for $250,000, which is pretty amazing for being that close to the subway," he adds.
According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, the median price of single detached resale homes in this area W2 has increased by a whopping 52 per cent since July 2000.
The median price of a single-family detached home in the area in July was $439,500, up from $290,000 in 2000.
"That area is only getting better with a new police station going in, with condos going in and with the price of land continuing to go up in Toronto," Giambrone suggests.
"I think if people are looking for an area that's going to be changing, that's it."
Galleria Mall Redevelopment
Statement from the Development Team: June 24, 2003
The owners of the Galleria Mall site are proposing a comprehensive mixed-use redevelopment of the property that will add attractive streets, landscaped areas, street related retail and improved park amenities to this central Toronto neighbourhood. This significant investment in the community will be undertaken in phases.
In April 2002, an application was filed for an Official Plan Amendment for the entire site and a rezoning for the Dundas/Dupont corner to permit a residential building within an overall concept plan for the site. A revised proposal was submitted in August, 2002.
City staff and the community identified a number of issues that they wanted addressed, including how the new development would relate to the park and surrounding low density area. The applications were deferred at City Council, with a direction that the applicant work with staff and the community to address the issues raised.
The applicant has retained a new team of consultants to design a more comprehensive plan for the site and in consideration of the many issues and ideas raised. The team includes an Urban Designer (IBI Group), a new project architect (Quadrangle Architects Limited), a new planner (Bousfield, Dale-Harris, Cutler & Smith) and a new transportation consultant (iTrans).
The consultant team has met on various occasions with City Staff and twice with a group of community representatives. In addition, a larger community meeting was held.
The team is now in a position to modify the previous applications to reflect a new concept plan. The new plan proposes a variety of housing types ranging from 3 1/2 storeys for the townhouse units, 6 to 8 storeys for the mid-rise buildings, and stepped/terraced buildings to a maximum height of 15 (two buildings) and 19 (one building) storey incorporated into a podium base. The higher elements have been located along Dupont Street, furthest away from the park and have no identifiable negative impact on public recreation spaces or existing houses. All of this housing will be condominium ownership, which will contribute to the ongoing stability of the community and the sense of ‘pride of ownership’. The unit sizes include a range of one bedroom, two bedroom, some family sized units of more that two bedrooms and townhouses. In addition, it is proposed that live/work units and retail space be provided on the main floor of the buildings along Dupont Street.
The entire redevelopment contain approximately 1,500 units, all condominium tenure. There will be a variety of types suitable for families, smaller households and seniors. The traffic generated by the proposal will be less that the current mall generates today.
The project will result in a number of community benefits including as follows:
The high quality urban design of the project will set the tone for reinvestment in the area
The site will be revitalized while maintaining a retail component
The site will be opened up with new public roads and will be integrated with the existing community through careful placement of uses, buildings and height
Additional parkland will be provided
• The reconfigured park space and eyes on the park resulting from units facing the park and the new public road system will improve the usability and safety of park
Additional population in the area will support local services and facilities such as the community centre
The streetscape improvements along Dufferin Street and Dupont Street will add activity and interest at the street level
There will be a better link to surrounding community for pedestrians and cyclists
Development charges/parks contribution will provide opportunity to improve the community centre/park
The development concept allows the project to start at either the west or the east end of the site, in a phased manner, depending on when the opportunity arises to begin. Community benefits will be provided with each phase.
Galleria Mall Redevelopment Website:
for the lastest report see
May 26, 2003, Re: Galleria Mall Redevelopment
DIG IN Recommendations & Suggestions:
Redevelop the Wallace Emerson parkland first before any other construction starts. This action would offer some compensation to the local community in general and especially to the residents that edge the Park.
This is a massive development and should be designed to add quality, excitement and energy to the area. It may be desirable to have different architects for each of the three blocks to ensure that the development does not contribute to a monolithic sameness of ideas, visual appearance and services.
Ensure carefully planned commercial spaces on the first floor of the development that relate to the overall community as opposed to only servicing residents in the development.
Help control traffic by contributing to the planning and development of a green walking system throughout the area that connects the development to the neighbourhood both internally and to the city at large.
Include car time-share spaces in the development to help reduce car dependency.
Develop a policy to employ a percentage of local people throughout the life of the project. The area is home to a large number of residents and businesses in the construction trades and in the arts.
This is primarily a family neighbourhood. The development should include some family residents.
The area should not move towards becoming a bedroom community, this development should help contribute towards a vibrant, well services city neighbourhood. We need to ensure affordable commercial space to replace the services of the Galleria Mall including grocery shopping, drugstore, LCBO, etc.
Include bike lockers.
Keep local residents informed and up-to-date regarding the development and ensure that the community knows where to find information.
The name of the development should reference the Dupont West area.
Commercial space could be planned to help develop and retain an original community character, for example, space could be allotted to establish small business incubators.
Develop a traffic calming strategy for Dufferin Street
Increase number of buses on Dupont
• General Electric Complex The Standard
On - Going OMB, Ontario Municipal Board meetings for
800 Lansdowne Ave. The Standard second phase,
request for twoadditional buildings, 592 units.
Please check under welcome for meeting dates
Recent MEETINGS: July 10, 2003,10:00 am, April 6, 2004, 1:00
655 Bay Street, 16th floor, Hearings Room
GO Transit plan jolts residents
Condo with bad attitude; Developers of The Standard may have missed a chance to preserve a kind of rough architectural poetry at the site. But something can still be done to forge better links between the project and community by JOHN BENTLEY MAYS
23 April 2004
The Globe and Mail
‘Transitional” is the polite word sometimes used to describe Toronto neighbourhoods like mine, out along Dupont Street at Lansdowne Avenue. But if it's a nice way to say “scruffy,” the term also has the ring of accuracy.
Most things in my district of the city have long been transiting from one thing to another. A hundred years ago, the area was a mix of bald farmland and, along the north-south CN Rail corridor, factories and warehouses. Then, around the time of the First World War, the old farms were abruptly carpeted with houses for immigrant working families British ones first, later Italian, now largely Portuguese.
A plant of some kind for making radiator pipes or aircraft parts, the stories differ came and went on the present-day site of the Galleria Mall. The brick building I live in was put up circa 1915. It was first used as a tool and die shop, then became a furniture factory, then slid into dereliction until discovered, in the 1980s, by developers who saw a market for loft living early on.
While small manufacturing operations continue alongside the railway tracks, the fires in the bellies of the great old factories spluttered out long ago.
General Electric's Davenport works has been taken over by movie people. The American Standard plant shut off its huge kiln and stopped making toilets and sinks only a few years ago, and the building has since been undergoing a transformation into apartment homes for some 3,000 new neighbours.
Considered in broad outline, the continuing American Standard changeover is a welcome development. The two hulking concrete buildings along Lansdowne were not torn down, and a sensible residential use has been found for these monuments from Toronto's heavy-industrial past.
Boring, blank expanses of metal siding have been stripped away, and windows punched into once-concealed walls. Viewed up close, however, The Standard (as the project is called) is a distinctly mixed blessing. While it's fine to have hundreds of new rental properties on the once-bleak corner of Lansdowne and Dupont, it's not so fine to see the tough old industrial buildings smothered in mushroom-coloured plaster and otherwise deprived of their blue-collar vitality.
What's been lost is an excellent opportunity to preserve, and even enhance, the rough architectural poetry of heavy concrete floor-slabs separated by forests of majestic columns. Modern design, which is all to do with expressing and celebrating the bones of buildings, has been rejected in favour of faint-hearted Classicism cornices, Roman-style corner treatments and the like lightly and cheaply applied to exterior surfaces.
These buildings also have something of a bad attitude toward the community. The district they sit in features a few pleasant north-south side streets, but several barren, fast east-west thoroughfares, and, because of the CN railway, a lot of dead ends and bad interruptions in the urban grid.
The general layout of the neighbourhood, and the scarceness of retail shopping along the streets east of the railway tracks (and north of Bloor Street West), discourage walking, and make casual strolling an almost extinct phenomenon. There's a no-go air about the whole place.
The last thing such a situation needs is an apartment complex that looks like a medieval fortress. But once the proposed new buildings are added to the old structures on the site, The Standard will face inward, with the adjacent streets getting a lot of hard, unfriendly backside.
Unless street-level shops or a daycare or some other useful neighbourhood facilities are allowed to liven up the factory building now under conversion, Lansdowne south of Dupont will likely remain as inert as it's long been.
To some extent, that outcome may be inevitable. It's nobody's fault, after all, that the recyclable structures on the site are pushed up against Lansdowne, while the areas open to new construction are in the interior of the site. But things can be, and should be, done to improve the links between The Standard and the surrounding area.
Talks are under way between city planners and the developer, Tom Falus, to make the whole project more amiable. Suggestions from community activists include poking more portals in the heavy wall-like facades, to invite walkers and generally to make the development more porous.
The Standard's owners may be asked to put up money toward a pedestrian bridge across the CN corridor and other street-level improvements.
Local homeowners are ready to be good neighbours to The Standard. All we're asking is that The Standard be a good neighbour back.
All material copyright Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. or its licensors. All rights reserved.
Huge rail overpass in west-central area would carve strip out of many backyards
Globe and Mail, Saturday, September 20, 2003
Residents of some west-central Toronto neighbourhoods are on a collision course with GO Transit if plans are approved for a huge project involving construction of an elevated railway bridge.
A report produced for GO Transit -- that has not been made public -- calls for a bridge of up to two kilometres in length and the expropriation of property to make room for additional and reconfigured track from Wallace Avenue (north of Bloor Street) to Innes Avenue (south of Rogers Road)
The project would form part of a plan to bring all-day GO service to towns north of the city.
The Bradford Corridor Planning Study Final Report, dated March of 2002, came to light at an Ontario Municipal Board prehearing session last week. The Globe and Mail had an opportunity to examine the document after it was turned over to representatives of a developer who is appealing the city's rejection of plans to construct residential buildings near the tracks, south of Dupont Street.
Residents of the affected neighbourhoods expressed shock about the existence of the plans.
"Nobody consulted us, but that's the way these guys work," said Carey Rookwod of Prescott Avenue, before going to get a neighbour to view a copy of plans that would carve a strip out of their back yards.
Neither of the city councillors who represent the affected areas is familiar with the plans either.
"I heard about a report, but I never saw anything," Ward 17 Councillor Fred Dominelli said.
Ward 18 Councillor Mario Silva said he has heard nothing about the existence of such a report or any talk about a railway bridge or expropriation. "I'm supportive of GO Transit, but this sounds outrageous. I'll be asking the city planners what they know."
GO Transit managing director Gary McNeil denies there has been any attempt to suppress the report. "I'm not sure if this report has been made, quote, public. It's more a study of how you can physically get to all-day service in the corridor, so if we get infrastructure money to build some of this stuff we know roughly the money we're looking at for what we're required to do. It's probably a crossing that's in the 15- to 20-year time frame. There's no need to get people's concern up when it might not even happen."
Mr. Rookwod expressed concern about noise. "High-speed trains right in my back yard -- that's going to be loud," he said.
Some barely finished townhomes on Rankin Crescent and a 10-metre-wide strip of the Campbell Avenue Playground are recommended for expropriation -- prompting an Antler Street resident, who would give his name only as Mike, to say, "This neighbourhood has changed a lot since the Holly Jones murder. These guys sound like they want to pick a fight with the wrong people."
The plan recommends expropriations and a bridge near Steeles Avenue and in York Region as well as in the west-central area. The big problem in the inner city is a railway-level crossing near Dupont Street that reduces capacity and forces trains to slow on both the north-south Canadian National and east-west Canadian Pacific tracks.
Delcan Corp., an international engineering and consulting firm that produced the report, lists two options for the elevation of the north-south tracks used by GO trains, but acknowledges in one case that "the height and length of the structure will be a significant visual intrusion for approximately two kilometres [beginning south of Bloor]."
The other elevated option calls for a shorter, steeper bridge that would "significantly increase locomotive noise," according to a transit planner and engineer who viewed the documents at The Globe's request.
The Delcan report also lists two options involving tunnels but says each appears impractical.
"They want to tear down the Gardiner Expressway in one part of town, and put up essentially the same thing up here," said Ted Davidson, a consultant for Ridgevest Developments Ltd., the appellant in the OMB case. "You don't think they would try to ram something like this through in a wealthier neighbourhood, do you?"
Mr. McNeil, of GO Transit, called the Gardiner comparison unfair. "It's like a scare tactic," he said. "This would be the width of a two-lane road. There are lots of things we can do -- we can put in pedestrian connections."
Lawyer Alan Heisey, who represents GO Transit and CN in the OMB case, cautioned last week that the GO expansion might not happen for several years. "The planning horizon is 30 years," he said. "The important thing is that we protect the rail corridors for the public good. It's part of the city's official plan."
• Lansdowne Homeless Shelter
NOTES FROM MEETING:July 3, 2003, 6:00 to 8:00, Wallace Emerson Community Centre, 1260 Dufferin
1. Signing contract with the city in 4-6 weeks--construction.
i. begin kitchen reno and intake office
ii. transitional housing
-hostel will remain open during reno
-garden go-ahead obtained from City; 2-3 weeks to start
-power washer obtained to clean wall
-should see improvements beginning 2-3 weeks
2. Cameras (front/back)
-to be completed by the end of this month once the City signs off
3. Community concerns
-Concern about residents late at night and during daytime at 730
-linking with community services
-"street help" cards to be dropped off so people know who to call
-(416) 989-6768 outreach van for pick-ups
-Where do clients come from?
shelter clients come mostly from our neighbourhood/community
-why is the shelter only for men?
men make up the 8:1 majority of homeless people
women's hostels do exist
(1. Christie/Ossington Women's Shelter @ Bloor/Lansdowne;
2. Savard's place @ Bloor/Lansdowne
3. Evangeline @ Dundas/Keele)
-Do other (wealthier) neighbourhoods have shelters?
Until this, Ward 18 was the only municipal ward without one
4. Community involvement
-create a committee?
-community space will be part of renovation
-idea of community contract and committee for liaison
FOCUS: community members
REPRESENTATION: equal amongst interest groups
COMMUNITY OUTREACH: flyers, posters, email, etc.
LANGUAGE: meetings should have interpreters to broaden involvement
PURPOSE: to create a dialogue with CONC/Community and residents to
build a relationship
-Community relations person to research what is happening and bring
-new director Randall Sachs will oversee the process
-tours of the facility can be arranged for anyone interested
-July 12: Street Festival @ Christie Pits (youth-focused)
Meeting Notes from Kevin Beaulieu
We need to ensure better integration the Lansdowne Avenue / Dupont Street homeless shelter into the community.
The homeless shelter at 973 Lansdowne was presented to the neighbourhood as a temporary shelter. Within a year the shelter applied for permanent statue and made plans to expand. Regardless of concerns voiced by some members of the community stating that the same area already had many problems, the shelter was approved. Toronto has a serious problem with homelessness and and the city is trying to do something about it. Little can be done to reject a shelter because they are so needed.
DIG IN member and members of the community all have their own feelings about the homeless shelter, many recognizes the need for homeless shelters but feel this is one of the worst locations that could be consider. The corner at Lansdowne and Dupont has long standing problems with drugs and prostitution.
If DIG IN's has an official position is to recognize that the shelter is there regardless of if we personally like it or not. The shelter is helping homeless people. DIG IN accepts the reality that it is now part of our neighbourhood so lets ensure that it is a good shelter, is monitored and integrated into the community as a responsible member. The communities constructive ideas are needed to help with this and the shelter needs to guaranty the good-will that they will listen and act on community concerns quickly.
Toronto City Hall
2nd Floor, West Tower
100 Queen Street West, Toronto ON M5H 2N2
November 10, 2002
Dear City Officials and Concerned Neighbours,
Re: Notice of Public Meeting (Nov 12, 9:30am) re application to amend Official Plan to make permanent the use of 973 Lansdowne as a 45-bed men's hostel and to allow for the addition of 20 bachelor units, a dining room and office/ancillary space.
Homelessness in our city is an appalling situation. Of equal concern is the growing number of at-risk man wandering around my neighbourhoodas well as increased crime, prostitution, drug abuse and poor police response to emergency and other calls.*1
The Lansdowne and Dupont area is densely populated, yet it is under-supported with the means to face its multiple, long-standing neighbourhood issues. As a result, there are pressures and stress with which we already have difficulty. Examples include:
A distinct lack of enhancing, positive physical features to the neighbourhood amidst a pronounced abundance of trouble spots.
Large, entrenched pockets of dysfunctional residents crowded into low-rent apartment buildings.
No real recreational walking routes or desirable end destinations for walks
Laneways misused and littered with rubbish
Vehicle congestion, safety and traffic pattern issues
With 50% more children than average Toronto neighborhoods, families also have issues about safety, especially since children have been hit by cars*2
Few and poorly maintained neighbourhood parks*3
The area also has little usable green space and few residential trees
Its physical layout is not favorable to building a sense of community (two railway lines, for example, divide the neighborhood)
Affordable housing for Individuals of all cultures and backgrounds
A widely varying housing stock, that includes poorly maintained high-rise apartments, which are not conducive to community building
An illicit drug and sex trade is present
A concentration of individuals living in poverty or who are among the working poor
Families of new Canadians of various nationalities
For many individuals, English is a second language
This list needs consideration when any development idea is set in motion. The priority for the neighbourhood is to make it a better place to live.
I have been sent information about the proposed shelter and have toured the site. It was clean and well organized. I, like everyone else, wants homelessness to disappear but, also like everyone else, would prefer not to have a shelter in my backyard. If the neighbourhood is to support a residence for homeless men, it is absolutely important that the city also offer better support of the area. We need firm assurance that we are not going to continue a downward drift but that we are moving towards a neighbourhood that is that is green, clean, safe and civil.
We need good, community police officers active in reducing violence, drugs, prostitution
(perhaps police could make an office in one of the problem high-rise apartments)
We need support and pressure for the people who are engaged in crime to help them to change their lives.
We need problem housing inspected and forced to improve.
We need clean, bright, safe laneways and parks
And we need to plan physical urban aspects that will support a healthy neighbourhood. These include:
A connected walking system through the neighbourhood that pulls it together as a "place"
A plan for the Wallace Emerson/Galleria development to become a major link in a walking system that connects the park to a greened Lappin Avenue, onto and across the railway lines, to an improved Campbell Street Park.
Utilize the large green spaces currently edging the railway lines
Examining creative use possibilities for the long-empty TTC barns on Lansdowne Avenue
Enact inventive ways to calm traffic
Revitalize Wallace Emerson Park as a family park
Develop new approaches to paving, road construction, heat in the area etc
Work towards making the area green, clean, safe and civil.
1 DIG IN organized a meeting this Oct 10th, about reducing crime in the area, over 30 residents attended. The major speaker, community police officer, Mario Guglick, did not show up.
Mid June at 6:00, in the morning, there was a terrible fight outside on the street in front of my house. A man was badly beaten, blood covered his face, the fighter's girlfriends stood nearby, screaming. Many of the neighbors came out to try to stop the fight. Four people confirmed to me that each had called the police. THE POLICE DID NOT COME. I called them again to ask what was happening, they said the shift was changing but the police were on the way. We waited, but they NEVER came. Everyone on the block was very upset, they were as upset that the police did not show up as they are about the fight. Also in June the police were examining some suspicious looking chemical containers in a nearby laneway off Emerson Ave, behind the Galleria Mall. I thought, great, the matter was being cared for-this, isn't the first time things have been dumped in our alleyways. But the next day, the same containers were there, only now turned over with chemical ooze tracked over the laneway.
2 This summer, a mother and child were hit by a car on my street. This is not first car accident. Collectively, we can count seven children that have been hit over the past ten years on a three-block stretch of St Clarens Ave. A little girl was killed a few years ago.
We need a new traffic control pattern with more one-way switchbacks so that cars are discouraged from using our residential side street as a northbound alternative to Lansdowne Avenue. Other traffic calming devices such as traffic islands extending into the street should also be established.
We also need to consider way of making drivers in this area more polite. We should plan ways to encourage people to get out of their cars and walk.
3 Wallace Emerson Park removed the children's playground from the far west end of the park a several years ago. In doing this and concentrating the childrens play area at the east end of the park parents no longer come to the other end of the park with their small children. In the past, the parents had acted as informal guardians for that part of the park. Without the playground, mostly men and teenager boys now use this area, and the park, as a whole seems less safe. (Drinking parties, gangs, fights, are regular events.)
Parents first let children play in the laneways but the laneways have seen an increased numbers of men who are strangers as well as drug activity.
Parents now prefer to have their school-aged children play out on the street where they can see them and know other parents are keeping an eye on the situation. That the Park is not working well for school-aged children means that there will be even more children hit by cars because they are using the street as an alternative park.
We need new architectural ideas and new models throughout the city and we need to put-in-place on-going opportunities to make this happen.
BETTER ARCHITECTURE / CITY-WIDE ARCHITECTURE INCUBATOR
• advancement of innovative architecture,
• exploration of building and design materials
• architecture that incorporates better use of art, planning and landscape architecture.
Institute citywide small and large-scale progressive architectural commissions by creating a architecture incubator mandate for all new development projects. Developments over 50 units must provide one unit, per 50, to be a limited or open commission for an architect to design. The winning projects must include concerns that are now under-explored but in need of attention.
Concerns to be addressed
Each commission would be required to address say 5 of 15 issues including - but not limited to:
1. Original and inventive design
2. Affordable housing
3. Better environmental footplan
4. Innovative use of building materials
5. Better use and/or creation of green space
6. Green roofs
7. Life-long houses: suitable from birth to death
8. Creation of teams that include artist and/or landscape architect
9. New design of various features such as better and more attractive windows, doors, bricks…
10. Recycled materials
11. Water run-off
12. How the project leads and/or is integrated into the surrounding neighbourhood
13. Local community participation in planning and design process
14. Front yards as street integrated green space
15. Orientation considerations for new residents to quickly feel and become a part of the neighbourhood and…