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City moves quickly to get ahead of Westbank application

February 15th, 2015 · No Comments

Long in need of a rethink, the corner of Bathurst and Bloor streets is currently the focus of renewed scrutiny, as City of Toronto planners work to lay down guidelines in advance of a much-anticipated application to re-develop the Honest Ed’s site, and adjoining land.

This area is bounded by London, Lippincott, Lennox, and Markham streets, and includes the entire area marked for redevelopment, as well as the Bathurst Street subway station.

The planners are reviewing the possibility of designating parts of Mirvish Village and Honest Ed’s under the Ontario Heritage Act, and hope the developer, Westbank Projects Corp., will commemorate the store’s contributions to the neighbourhood somewhere within the new project.

The four corners study is part of a larger project that has been underway since 2013, and is aimed at developing a built form and land use vision for Bathurst Street from Dupont to Queen streets.

Public consultation has been a major part of the process, and the City has met with local business improvement areas, residents’ associations, and held open public meetings.

Issues under consideration have included pedestrian and cycling connections, heritage conservation, open and green space, residential unit size, affordability and diversity, as well as the relationship between the transit station and its surroundings.

Some consistent themes emerged from this process: sidewalks should be wider on Bathurst Street, which is particularly unfriendly to pedestrians; there should be more green space and public seating areas; big box retail is not popular; and, building heights and densities remain a concern, as does the lack of affordable housing.

The City has already approved a planning statute as a result of the study. Official Plan Amendment #246 limits retail in size and frontage at 3,500 square metres and 12 metres respectively.

Westbank has appealed the amendment to the Ontario Municipal Board.

For further information on the study, please visit http://toronto.ca/ planning/bathurst.htm.

—Brian Burchell/Gleaner News

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