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NEWS (JUNE 2017): Affordable housing on the agenda

June 30th, 2017 · No Comments

PARA AGM focused on Mirvish Village development

By Geremy Bordonaro

Westbank Projects Corp.’s Mirvish Village development was the focus of the Palmerston Area Residents’ Association (PARA) annual general meeting last month.

“There have been dozens of meetings and literally thousands of hours poured into this so that it could be made better in each and every iteration,” said Roy Sawyer, a Markham Street resident and member of PARA’s Mirvish Village Task Group. “The volunteers who have helped out with this really deserve the highest praise.”

The group’s main goal was to keep residents informed on the project’s progress and represent the neighbourhood’s interests. The work included an unprecedented number of meetings and a huge amount of research by the community volunteers. The sheer amount of input has redefined how the city had to look at how development cycles work.

“We don’t measure development by years,” said Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina). “But with this one we did just because of the huge amount of community involvement there was throughout the process.”

Layton presented his thoughts on the development and what he and his office were hoping to accomplish in their dealings with Westbank. A large part of his goal was to make sure that the area was still livable for those who are slowly being priced out of living in the Annex.

“One thing we heard, more than anything else, was making sure that our neighbourhood was still affordable. Affordability was a different question thirty or forty years ago or even ten years ago. I bought my first place five years ago and it was much more affordable even then. Looking at that offer to create affordable, or more affordable, housing in our area was seen as one of the top goals of ours.”

Ward 19 is home to a lot of development projects, but Layton was especially concerned about working with the community on the Mirvish Village project.

“We hear the rhetoric down at city hall. ‘Oh they’re just doing it for all that money. People are buying off those city councillors!’” Layton said. “But we want the planning to work and we want the community to work. We want the development to work regardless of what we get out of it in the end.”

Making this development work is particularly important to PARA as the community will certainly feel the impact of more residents and businesses in the neighbourhood.

“At this pace this is probably going to be the biggest change that will happen to our neighbourhood in a century. We need to ask fundamental questions that we don’t normally think much about,” said Paul MacLean, chair of PARA, in his opening statements. “What will these changes mean for our community? What is a good neighbourhood anyways? Questions like these are changed by this Mirvish Village development.”

And questions like these will have to be answered when the development takes place, but for now, in the words of Jonah Letovsky of Westbank, the site is going to see the first stages of development very soon.

“We anticipate being able to start site activity within the next two months. That means the demolition of Honest Ed’s, along Bathurst Street, and the small retail along Markham Street. Headway on the next site activity will likely start in the fall.”



NEWS: Development dominates discussion (May 2017)

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