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Proposed Neville Park condo proves controversial

Neighbourhood gears up for development battle

by Carole Stimmell

IN A SUCCESSFUL urban setting, there is always a tension between maintaining the stability and character of a neighbourhood and the need for new housing stock. Over the last decade, a number of battles have been fought in the Beach over this issue, with winners and losers on both sides.

So ultimately, who should decide what is in the best long term interests of the community – taking into account the competing requirements of residents who have committed their homes and lives to the status quo of a neighbourhood and the land owners/property developers who are entitled to get the maximum return on their investment?

There are two recent development proposals which would seem to expand the envelope on local zoning. Both will probably end up being decided at the Ontario Municipal Board.

On June 26, about 100 neighbours from the Neville Park south area attended a meeting at St. Aidan’s Church held by Councillor Sandra Bussin. It was billed as an information session to give residents their first opportunity to see the official plan amendment and rezoning application for 2/4 Neville Park Blvd/Lakeshore.

The application, submitted by architects Sweeny Sterling Finlayson and Co, calls for a five storey, 16-unit apartment (condo) building and one detached house to be built on the properties. Because the proposed height and the density of the building is considerably over that allowed by local zoning (12 m allowed, 17.4 m requested; .6 density permitted, 1.94 proposed), the city would have to approve the deviations.

Dermott Sweeny, who is one of the developers of the property, said in his presentation to the meeting that the condo would have a maximum of 16 units ranging from 2,500 to 10,000 sq ft. The final number could be less because the building’s flexibility allows it to be configured into a smaller number of larger units.

Each condo will be served by an elevator which opens directly into the unit, so space taken up by hallways is at a minimum.

Sweeny reassured the audience that he intends “to maintain Gordon Kaiser’s gardens.” And while, he admitted, a few trees would have to go, the developer’s plan call for planting more.

Sweeny argued that there were already two four-storey apartment buildings on the lakeshore very close to Neville Park. He also pointed out that, “If three single family houses were built on the property, it would take up the same volume [as the condo].”

His final argument was that the developer could – as of right – build three duplexes (even triplexes) on the site. “Our project is better than that,” he concluded.

Sweeny has an additional vested interest in this development. He plans on moving in to one of the units when it is completed.

As the developers took their leave so that residents could “strategize,” Bussin made her feelings known. She does not support the project because she believes it will have a negative impact on the quality of life in the Beach. It would also set a precedent for development of other sites on the beach lakefront.

None of the audience who spoke appeared to favour the development in its current configuration. “We are looking at the Harbourfrontization of the Beach,” said one.

However, City Planner Leontine Major said that the planning department will be taking a careful look at the project, starting with getting input from a number of other city departments such as fire, works and urban forestry. Major said the planning report to Toronto/East York Community Council would be available this fall. At that time, an official community consultation will also be held. Then, once the applicant has a chance to respond and/or revise their application, the public will have another opportunity to make presentations at community council.

Emotion ran high among many audience members, many of whom believed the apartment complex to be totally out of character for the street.

While current planning would seem to rule out the proposed development, Neville Park homeowners are not about to take anything for granted. A number of local residents have already formed the Beach Lakefront Neighbourhood Association.

The association will be holding a community meeting on Sept. 25 starting at 7 p.m. at the Beaches Recreation Centre (6 Williamson Rd.) Munro Park resident Dennis Wood said that in all likelihood the application for development will end up before the Ontario Municipal Board.

Anyone who wishes to express their views on the development can contact Councillor Bussin at 416-392-1376 or Leontine Major at 416- 397-4079. Anyone interested in joining the association or finding out more about the project can contact Harold Tabone at 416-205-9909 ext. 222 or You can visit the BLNA website at

Kingston Road and Woodbine neighbourhood face similar issues

At the other end of the Beach, Kingston Road residents had similar concerns about a development planned for the former site of the Canadian Legion Hall at Kingston and Haslett (303 Kingston Rd.).

The developer proposes to construct an eight-storey 71-unit apartment (condo) building.

An official community consultation meeting was held on June 28 at the Fairmount Community Centre. The planning consultant for the developer told the audience that the property was an ideal location for the type of intensification which the new city official plan calls for. It is on a major street, and has good assess to the TTC. The building, which would have 7 living floors with 12 units per floor. The eighth floor would contain amenities places such as a party room.

Hill pointed out that the developer could built a five-storey building as of right. Other new condos in the area, such as the one at the former Bun King location (Kingston and Main), while only six-storeys were also the same height as the proposed building. “Taking a look at the Kingston Road context, there a quite a number [of condos] of five to nine storeys in the neighbourhood,” said Hill.

Parking access to the building would be off Haslett – a prospect that did not please residents. However, said Bussin, the city might object to a Kingston Road access point.

The building would also have three levels of underground parking with 54 tenant spaces and 8 visitor spots. When someone pointed out that this meant fewer parking spaces then units, Hall said that the developer anticipated that people buying into the building would not necessarily own cars. He said that there are also plans to have spaces for Autoshare cars.

One of the things that concerned a number of local residents was the make up of the building – almost all the units would be 680 sq. ft. one-bedrooms. One Haslett residents remarked, ”We wanted a quiet family neighbourhood. It is the reason we live here.”

Once again, Major will take the feedback provided by the meeting and from other city departments and prepare a response to the applicant.Anyone who wishes to express their views on the development can contact Councillor Bussin at 416-392-1376 or Major at 416-397-4079.