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NEWS (MAY 2017): Development dominates discussion

May 26th, 2017 · No Comments

ARA holds annual general meeting

By Geremy Bordonaro

Development dominated the Annex Residents’ Association (ARA) annual general meeting on April 27.

The area has seen an increase in developments over the last few years, most notably the Westbank Projects Corp.’s Mirvish Village development, and that coloured every topic of discussion, from bike lanes to community housing.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to accommodate people, move those people efficiently and safely”—Albert Koehl, vice-chair, Annex Residents’ Association

“Our time here at the ARA in the past year has included a very strong focus on planning and development. As we discussed last year, the Annex has a lot of different developments around our ward,” said David Harrison. “We became somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of development activity that we needed to be on top of and participate in.

“It’s my estimate that between Yonge and Bathurst [streets] along the Bloor Corridor if you take all of the development that has been approved there could be up to 20,000 more people in that strip. And there’s already difficulties moving people around.”

The traffic and transportation committee reported mostly on matters of public safety concern, which it believes are being alleviated by lower speed limits on side streets and the implementation of the Bloor Street bike lanes.

However committee member Albert Koehl, also the organization’s vice-chair, sees a new trend coming as new buildings are completed and filled with residents.

“If you look at the dozen of development applications for our neighbourhood you’ll see that the future is not going to be single-occupancy cars,” Koehl said. “We cannot accommodate new residents if they insist on being in single-occupant cars.”

A big believer in bike lanes, Koehl has advocated for the Bloor Street pilot bike lanes as a part of Bells on Bloor. He said that more support for public transit and bike lanes is necessary to accommodate the ever-growing Annex population.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to accommodate people, move those people efficiently and safely. That’s got to mean better transit, more walking, and more cycling,” he said. “With the bike lanes we’ve seen some people change their behaviour. We’ve seen more cyclists on Bloor [Street] and fewer cars. That’s got to be the way of the future.”

“Our ward is sort of the heart of [development in the city],” said Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) at the meeting. “Right now one quarter of all proposed development in the entire city is in Ward 20.”

Speaking of the community’s future, Cressy said that the city needs to change in order to keep up with the demand.

“On one hand we are thriving, but on the other the cracks have emerged…. Our infrastructure is 40 to 50 years old. And it’s not always sexy to invest in what is below the ground. But it is needed.”



CHATTER: Annex Residents’ Association app tracks developments (April 2016)


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