Click to find out more about some major developments in Don Mills
A developer proposes to demolish these houses, divide the 2 lots into 3 and build 3 large houses on the 3 lots. The minimum lot size allowed in Don Mills is 550 sq m. The 3 lots created would all be smaller than 450 sq m. The proposed houses would cover ~35% of each lot (when the max allowed is 25%) and the houses would be closer to each other than is allowed in Don Mills (1.2 m instead of 1.8m) which would result in the houses being 2.4m apart instead of 3.6m apart.
Don Mills was designed with a Garden City concept in mind. This was achieved in part by having relatively large lots with small homes and green space around the homes – large front and side setbacks for example. The proposed development would fundamentally change that by reducing the size of the lots, increasing the lot coverage and putting the homes too close together.
The DMRI, our councillor and City Planning opposed this application at the Committee of Adjustment (CoA), along with a host of local residents. In spite of that the CoA approved the development. The City and DMRI appealed the CoA decision to the Toronto Local Appeals Board (TLAB). There were two days of hearings May and we await the Chairs decision.
801 York Mills Road & 1855 Leslie Street
This development is essentially at the corner of Leslie and York Mills. It includes the buildings currently housing Windfield’s Restaurant and the Swiss Chalet. It also includes the property on Leslie where Browns Veterinary clinic was. It does not include the property at the corner containing a strip plaza with the Big Smoke Burger restaurant (recently closed), Sleep Country and a cleaners.
The owner of the property is First Capital.
The subject site is occupied by a 3-storey commercial office building, a 1-storey restaurant pad, and surface parking. The proposal contemplates its redevelopment with two 21-storey towers and a 9-storey mid-rise, comprised of 636 residential units, at-grade retail commercial uses (2,015.6 square metres), and a 561.5 square metre public park (“the proposal”).
There has been and continues to be considerable opposition from the residents closest to this development – immediately south of the site. The developer modified its application in several ways. The towers were reduced to 16 stories and the 9 storey apartment building was replaced with a 5 storey townhouse development. The number of residential units has been reduced to 492 and the park was substantially increased in size. The townhouse development did achieve the 45-degree plane but the towers did not quite achieve this. (The 45 degree plane as seen from the street/house opposite, it intended to soften the appearance of the building, making it look less massive. However, the 45 degree plane is a guideline not a hard and fast rule. Local resistance continues in an effort to reduce the height of the towers further and reduce the bulk of the towers.
As noted, this proposal does not include the property at the very corner. We anticipate a development application for that corner at some point.
895 Lawrence (SW corner of The Donway W and Lawrence – Congee Queen Plaza)
“Proposal for a mixed-use building comprised of two towers having heights of 17 and 22-storeys connected by a 6-storey podium, and containing 438 dwelling units. The proposed retail space gross floor area is 1513 square metres, and the proposed residential gross floor area is 36,763 square metres. Proposal provides 334 vehicular parking spaces, 438 bicycle parking spaces, and 3 loading spaces.”
The owner of this property is First Capital, the owner of the property at 801 York Mills and the Longo’s Plaza. This proposal is similar in that it has 2 towers with a podium. The area is zoned mixed use but does not currently have residential on it so changes to the Official Plan and Zoning by-laws are required.
There are some design concerns with this application, but the biggest issue is the elimination of retail that are of value to the community. The shops at this plaza (e.g. pharmacy, cleaners, vet, hearing aids, … ) will not move to the expensive spaces at the Shops of Don Mills. While the proposal contains a small amount of retail, it is insufficient and not designed for the kind of retail currently at that location.
This location is prime for redevelopment as the property is considered underutilized. The City has a challenge of providing more housing and one way to accomplish this is by increasing the density in under utilized spaces. You will note that there are fewer parking spaces than the number of units. This is common as the City tries to force us out of our cars. To achieve this, we must have alternatives. One of those is efficient transit. That will take decades to achieve. The Eglinton LRT has been 13 years so far and the Ontario Line is likely to take a similar time period. The other factor in reducing our dependence on cars is to provide shopping within walking distance. The shops at the Congee Queen Plaza are that kind of shop. They are within walking distance for many in Don Mills. To eliminate them goes against the objective of encouraging us to not use our cars.
150 The Donway W and 4 Overland
“Proposal for a development includes a total of 17,990 square metres of GFA, a density of 1.72 FSI and 242 new dwelling units within two buildings of 10-storeys (33.31 m) and 15-storeys (49.94 m) in height. A total of 355 residential units are proposed on the Subject Property. Proposed parking will consist of 178 vehicle parking spaces in two levels of underground. The current property is occupied by two rental apartment buildings;”
The property is occupied by two rental apartment buildings, a low-rise 4-storey building (known as 4 Overland Drive) located towards the western property boundary of Paperbirch Drive, and a midrise 6-storey building (known as 150 The Donway West) located towards the eastern property boundary on The Donway. These are rental buildings which is very good and something we need more of in Don Mills.
The application effectively appends a tower onto each of the existing buildings. One of the towers is located on the current surface parking lot and in the other, on some green space. The proposal puts virtually all of the parking underground and enhances the remaining green space between the existing buildings and on Overland.
We have identified some issues with the proposal:
It calls for 10 existing units to be renovated and, in the process, converted from 2 bedroom units into 1 bedroom and a den. As a result, the current residents will be required to move out of these units. We question that this is required; there must be a better way to manage it.
While there is more parking proposed than in many other local developments, the number is still 50% of the number of units. In addition, there will only be 20 visitor spots which seems minimal as there are already 17 spots for 113 units and when complete there will be 355 units. We think both regular and visitor parking is inadequate.
The towers seem too tall. When the Shops at Don Mills was designed, the intention was that the taller buildings would be in the centre of the site and the lower buildings would be around the Donway. The lower buildings are in the 10 – 12 storey range thus providing a transition to the single-family homes on the outside of the Donway. This proposal would be as tall or taller than the buildings across the Donway at the Shops site. That seems a move in the wrong direction.
2, 4, 6 The Donway East and 1053 Don Mills Rd.
(SE corner of Don Mills Rd. and The Donway).
Zoning By-law Amendment and Draft Plan of Subdivision applications to permit four residential buildings ranging in height from 16 to 32 storeys. The proposal also includes a new public park and a new public street.
The application calls for the demolition of the existing rental buildings on the site in favour of four residential buildings ranging from 16 to 32 stories, sitting atop 6-storey podiums. The proposal also includes a small public park and a smaller ‘privately owned, publicly accessible open space’ (“POPS”).
Collectively, the proposed development contains approximately 1,185 dwelling units, comprised of 991 condominium tenure units at 194 rental tenure units, including 160 rental replacement units.
There are some issues with this proposal although there are positives here too. The application provides more than the minimum number of rental units, some park space and open space – all good. However, it seems to us that the buildings are a too tall for this side of Don Mills Rd. There are also issues with the road in terms of connections with The Donway (sight lines) and with future developments north of this site. While there is a park and open space, it is smaller than we would like to see.
The developer has met with the City, is considering these concerns and hopefully will revise its plan before proceeding. Wynford Concorde
1-3 Concorde Gate and 10-12 Concorde Place
This property is located just east of the Don Valley Parkway and north of Eglinton. The original application called for:
Zoning By Law Amendment Application for 1-3 Concorde Gate and 10-12 Concorde Place. The Rezoning Application and associated Draft Plan of Subdivision application proposes to demolish the existing office buildings on the lands at 1-3 Concorde Gate and 10-12 Concorde Place. Application proposes to redevelop the lands with five residential and mixed-use buildings comprised of nine towers ranging from 40 to 52 storeys. The proposed development also includes two new public parks located at the north and south ends of the site, which comprise a total of 3,690 square metres in size, in addition to a new public street which will bisect the 10-12 Concorde Place property in a general north-south direction. Overall the application proposes 4,086 dwelling units and 307,004 square metres of residential space, 841 square metres of retail and 437 square metres of community space at grade. The overall gross floor area proposed is 308,284 square metres, resulting in a gross density of 9.95 FSI.
The application has been modified slightly. For example, it now includes a school which is critical given the significant increase in population in the area due to this development combined with the ones at 175 Wynford and 123 Wynford. Unfortunately, the school is proposed to be located beside the DVP and the train track.
While there have been some changes the magnitude of the development has not changed, nor has the fact that it will create major issues for the community.
The developer is Fengate and the owner is Liuna (Labourer’s International Union of North America) Pension Fund. The approach taken by Fengate has been very aggressive and largely ignoring the local community. Fengate appealed to the OLT at the earliest opportunity possible signalling that it had no intention of listening to the community or the City for that matter.
The application for this site has gone through many changes in the past few years. The original was for 2 buildings, 30 and 34 storeys with a 4 storey podium. As you can see from the description below the new application is dramatically more intensive. The owner and developer are Fengate and Liuna respectively, the same as for the development above and the same comments apply.
Revised Proposal: A revised Zoning By-law Amendment application with revisions including a new public road and new public parkland of 1,799 sq.m. A proposed reduction in the number of tall buildings from 4 to 3 towers, and increased building heights ranging from 55 to 65 storeys. The gross floor area has decreased from 199,696 sq.m to 181,332 sq.m, resulting in a density of 7.79 FSI. The number of residential units has decreased from 2,750 units to 2,500 units and the retail space has increased from 545 sq.m. to 1,791 sq.m. The number of parking spaces has decreased from 1,558 spaces to 1,003 spaces within 7 levels of underground parking and the amenity space has decreased from a total of 11,000 sq.m. to 7,502 sq.m. Zoning By-law Amendment application to permit four mixed-use tall buildings ranging from 45 to 54 storeys in height and containing 2,750 dwelling units (189,963sqm residential gross floor area), as well as a minimum of 10,082sqm of non-residential gross floor area for a hotel, retail uses and a child care centre. The proposed density is 11.9 FSI. The existing Don Valley hotel would be demolished and a new hotel located within the podium of the 54-storey tower. A new signalized intersection is proposed on Wynford Drive at the location of the existing driveway and a total of 1,558 parking spaces are proposed to be located within 6 levels of underground parking. The proposal also includes 5,500sqm of indoor amenity space and 5,500 sqm of outdoor amenity space.
This development is on the LRT and that generally means that higher density will be allowed. A small hotel and a day care centre are included in the proposal. The park space will be minimal and while access to the LRT from the property is on the plan, it crosses property owned by other developments so challenges to this aspect of the proposal are likely to arise.
In addition, the vehicular access to and from this site is via one driveway on Wynford. This promises to be a very busy intersection.
Major Issues – common to most developments
The proposed developments in Wynford Concorde illustrate prevalent issues in almost all developments to some extent.
Parking and traffic
The City has removed the minimum amount of parking required for developments. In most cases here in Don Mills, that means the developers are building .5 parking spots for each unit in the condo/rental apartment. This is an effort to force us out of our cars. If there is no place to park a car, either at home or elsewhere, there is no point in having one. And if we don’t own cars, the traffic congestion will be resolved.
This is a fine long-term objective, much like New York City. But it must be accompanied by efficient transit that is available to take us where we need to go. That is certainly not the case in Toronto and won’t be for many decades at least.
Additionally, this approach requires ‘complete communities”, where one can shop for necessities within walking distances and therefore a car is not required. However, there is no requirement to build a complete community within the legislative framework created by the Province. They pay lip service to the concept and nothing more.
As a result, we will continue to have increased traffic congestion with the increased density with no end in sight.
Community amenities – open spaces; parks; schools
The objective of the various pieces of legislation is to increase the number of homes by increasing the density. In Wynford Concorde the population will be triple with this development and yet, there is no provision for additional retail shopping, additional parks for the increased population, or amenity space for community activities. The province could require this, but it is not. Instead, it has reduced the amount of park space required and reduced the money for community benefits which could provide some of the missing amenities. This seems to be creating an undesirable living situation – increased density but no place to play or recreate.
123 Wynford Drive
Proposed two residential towers of 55 and 48 storeys with 1128 residential units. A portion of existing listed heritage building (Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre) will be preserved. A total of 78,659.75 square metres of residential GFA are proposed (FSI 6.48). 463 parking spaces are proposed.
The first and most significant issue with this proposed development is the heritage aspect of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC). This is a very significant building, one of first buildings designed by Moriyama. It financed in part by the personal mortgages of 75 Japanese families in Toronto. The mistreatment of Japanese Canadians during and after the second world war is a significant part of our history. Retaining this building is essential in this regard. While the statement above suggests a portion of the existing building will be retained, the fact is that almost the entire building will be destroyed. This is not acceptable.