Letter from BENA (Bloor East Neighborhood Association) To Councillor Wong-Tam

Dear Councillor Wong-Tam;

I, as a BENA representative, attended the virtual meeting for the residents of Glen Road and surrounding area last Thursday night and have some overall comments. I have been involved in the area since just after the North St James Town Planning framework was passed in August of 2010, first as a member of BENA and then as President. I, as BENA’s representative, attended all of the Working Group Meetings for the subsequent development applications, attended the Toronto Preservation Board meeting, all the Design Review Panel Meetings except one, he TEYCC meetings including deputations, participated as a Participant at the OMB hearing and attended the Site Plan Working Group Meetings. I also attended all of the meetings to which stakeholders or the public were invited as a representative of BENA.

The following outlines why the project fails to fulfill the Planning objectives for Glen Road South.

By way of background, Glen Road South is significant in the history in the preservation of Toronto’s heritage assets. The following is an except from the Heritage Report submitted to Council for the North St James Town project. As is indicated the demolition by neglect of one of the townhouses was a catalyst to bring for standards of upkeep of heritage properties.

<em>“In March 2006, the designated heritage property at 6 Howard Street was ordered to be demolished by the City’s Chief Building Official after it was determined to be structurally unsound and in danger of collapsing on neighbouring buildings. This demolition brought attention to the deteriorating condition and vulnerable state of several other vacant heritage properties in the neighbourhood (Glen Road) and elsewhere in the City. Subsequently, with the new powers made available to municipalities through the 2005 revisions to the Ontario Heritage Act, in March 2007 City Council adopted Heritage Property Standards amending the existing City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 629, Property Standards, to prescribe minimum standards for maintenance and preservation of the heritage attributes of properties designated under Parts IV and V of the Ontario Heritage Act. At its meeting November 19 and 20, 2007 City Council stated its intention to designate the properties at 6-16 Glen Road under the Ontario Heritage Act allowing staff to enforce, through Municipal Licensing and Standards, the Heritage Property Standards By-law (1027-2007) to require the owners to undertake the necessary repairs to protect the heritage attributes of the properties. https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2007/cc/decisions/2007-11-19-cc14-dd.pdf The designation of the properties at 6-16 Glen Road was appealed by the owners and a Conservation Review Board Hearing was scheduled. In 2010 the owners withdrew their appeal on agreement with the City that the language in the Reasons for Designation would be revised to specifically exclude the additions at the rear of the properties at 6-16 Glen Road from the list of heritage attributes. https://www/toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2010/te/decisions/2010-08-17-te36-dd.htm. Following a survey and detailed research by Heritage Preservation Services staff of the other properties in the North St. James Town neighbourhood, a report from the Acting Director, Policy and Research, City Planning Division was considered by City Council at its meeting August 25 and 26, 2010 recommending the designation under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act of several additional properties, many of which were already “listed” on the City Inventory of Heritage Properties. City Council adopted the staff recommendations with amendments. https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs.mmis/2010/te/decisions/2010-08-17-ye36-ddhtm. Staff Report for Action – North St. James Town 5 A preliminary planning report (December 8, 2010) from the Director of Community Planning, Toronto and East York District on the subject Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendment application for the North St. James Town neighbourhood was considered by Toronto and East York Community Council at its meeting on January 11, 2011 and was adopted without amendment. https://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2011.TE3.25 A final planning report from the Director of Community Planning”</em>

We draw this to your attention, as one of the aspects of the design presented by Transportation Staff for the plans presented do not seem to address this context. Additionally, the concept for the application for the North St James Town project looked at the entire three blocks wholistically and certainly contemplated the redesign of Glen Road South in the context of the heritage preservation of the townhouses and existing heritages properties.

As I recall, Councillor McConnell’s deputation at the Heritage Preservation Board articulated a dream of bringing Glen Road back to what had been a thriving “village of Glen Road” atmosphere. Her vision brought a developer to the table that would restore this area, but at the same time knew that in order to restore the heritage assets, the area would have to be redeveloped. As such, the area had a comprehensive Plan covering three blocks of property, which have now been split up. Fortunately, City Council directed that the heritage preservation be completed first and should be applauded at the restoration that has been completed.

One of the end pieces of this restoration was Glen Road South itself which was addressed in the Section 37 Report (see excerpt in italics). While the monies referred to below, may not be needed, the intent was the Glen Road South improvements be done in conjunction with and in consideration of the heritage restoration.

The community benefits recommended to be secured in the Section 37 agreement provides a total contribution of $8,250,000, with a cash contribution of $7,750,000 which will be allocated for: 1. Glen Road including streetscaping, lighting and safety improvements around the TTC Glen Road entrance/exit;

We respectfully submit that this wholistic approach to preservation of the local character has not been adequately addressed, takes only a portion of the entire short block into consideration and finally only in the context of Transportation as it connects to the Glen Road Bridge.

I as the BENA representative, have stated verbally before, that it would be ideal to carve this portion out of the current project and evaluate it within the context that was contemplated starting in 2010 with the North St James Town Planning Framework. Parts of the current project plans may be appropriate, including wiring for CCTV, panic buttons, lighting etc but the landscaping, sidewalks and design be dealt with in the context that was Councillor McConnell’s vision.

Respectfully submitted;
—– —–, President BENA
On behalf of BENA