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E-BLAST: Development keeps booming in Don Valley North


Against all odds, growth from development and construction continues in Toronto, right through the worst public health crisis we’ve ever faced with all of its economic impacts.

We came into this pandemic with a deep housing shortage already underway. All three orders of government had already implemented programs to incentivize affordable housing construction, such as allowing for more extreme intensification along all transit corridors. Coupled with extended construction hours, the usual slowdown of development that accompanies an economic downturn simply has not materialized.

I know that the scale and pace of development in Don Valley North has been stressful for many residents. We’re home to one of the busiest development corridors in the city, second only to Yonge Street. Some community members have told me they’re worried that approvals are being pushed through without consultation. Many folks might look at the sign on a development site, with its jarring orange box where a building might be, and think it’s already a done deal. In fact, every development proposal is very much a work in progress.

Our city planners continue to apply the same amount of rigour to any development application they receive. This includes a long and complex process of planning, consultation, negotiation, approvals and appeals which has given our planners a reputation with developers for taking too long to produce final reports. At the City, we don’t apologize for this. Every development application must be carefully considered and our planners only write a final report when they have a result they can defend to Council. The circumstances of the pandemic have not changed that.

The pandemic has, of course, changed the way we conduct consultations for these development proposals. Public consultations are happening virtually. I know this is not ideal, but it does have one benefit: virtual meetings can be recorded and reviewed when it comes time to sit down with the developer to demand key changes.

Still, I know that it can be challenging to have your voice heard during a ward-wide public consultation. My team and I are always willing to schedule a virtual follow-up meeting for a group of neighbours, a condo board, or a resident group. This will give your group a chance to get more detail on the application and really spell out your local knowledge and input.

Recently, my team and I met with North York planning staff to receive a quarterly update on all development applications in our area. Ryan Lo, my planning and policy advisor, has written an extensive Lo-Down report this week to bring you up to speed on development in Don Valley North. Unfortunately, this will be our last Lo-Down as Ryan is leaving us to join the City’s public consultation unit. When our ward doubled in size, I hired Ryan to help keep us on top of all of the development applications we were receiving. Ryan’s keen interest in mobility planning also made him the perfect person to spearhead our DVN Connects transportation plan.

I’m always sad to lose a bright young staffer like Ryan, but it softens the blow to know he’s bringing his talents to the Toronto Public Service. I hope you will join me in thanking Ryan for all the work he’s done for Don Valley North. Development updates will always be a part of my E-Blast as long as our neighbourhoods are challenged by growth, but we will have to find a new name for the report. The Lo-Down will always belong to Ryan Lo. The Lo-Down: Development Overview At our meeting with City Planning staff, we discussed the progress on the nearly 40 active development applications in Don Valley North. This tremendous growth our community is facing highlights how important it is for us to continue engaging with residents like you about each proposal and its potential impact. While it's impossible to go over every application in this E-Blast, here are the key updates for our ward's most high-profile development proposals: 680-688 Sheppard Avenue East Shelley and City Planning staff still have many concerns about the current proposal for a 24-storey residential building. Issues such as height and built form remain unresolved at this time. 1181 Sheppard Avenue East Shelley met virtually with residents at Singer Court last month to discuss this application, which includes an office and residential building. Traffic and built form continue to be major concerns, while a public TTC/GO station connection presents an opportunity to improve transit access for the area. We anticipate that there will be changes to the proposal that will be shared with the community. 630-686 Finch Avenue East City Planning staff will be organizing a series of working group meetings in the coming months for this 12-storey mixed-use building proposal. Staff and the developer will be meeting with resident representatives to find solutions that address the community’s concerns. 6 Foxdale Court This application proposes to subdivide a large residential lot into five smaller lots. City Planning staff will be requesting permission from North York Community Council to schedule a community meeting, which will give residents an opportunity to share their concerns with City staff and the owner. 1 Heron's Hill Way The proposed 39-storey mixed-use building is on a site that is currently zoned as an employment area. This means that specific policies apply to the proposal and the review process is more stringent. City Planning staff will need to further study the merits of changing the zoning to include residential uses. What about the others? As always, you can find more information about other development applications and upcoming community meetings on our website: https://shelleycarroll.ca/development-updates. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at councillor_carroll@toronto.ca or call 416-338-2650.

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