Barton-Tiffany redevelopment plan gets green light from city
Planning committee approves re-imagination of neighbourhood
The city’s planning committee approved a sweeping re-imagining of the Barton-Tiffany area on Friday.
City planner Julia van der Laan de Vries and consultant Kevin Muir of GSP Group led a presentation of the new plan, which features park space, roads trimmed down from four lanes to two that are complete with bike lanes and public transit routes and many new buildings including two towers standing 12 and 16 storeys.
It could take 20 years for the community to transform completely, but dozens of interested citizens turned up for the meeting. Four registered to speak out against parts of the plan, something councillors said was a testament to the public outreach.
“We had a very engaging design study,” Muir said.
Still, some issues were raised at the meeting.
Social housing advocate Sara Mayo pointed out during a five-minute presentation that the plan made no mention of affordable housing, and called on councillors to ensure the new neighbourhood won’t just be for the well off.
Coun. Jason Farr, whose ward the development will take place in, thanked Mayo and said he supports mixed-income housing.
“Certainly we’ve had this conversation along the way,” Farr said, who twice praised van der Laan de Vries for her work during the consultation process.
The city does own parts of land where residential buildings are set to go in, meaning it could push for some level of affordable housing.
One Caroline Street resident, who walked with a cane and said he was suffering from cancer, raised concerns about the environmental impact of digging up contaminated soil south of Barton Street.
Public works staff said they are ready to begin an environmental assessment of the area. Currently, it’s unknown what chemicals are in the soil and how much remediation will need to be done before building new homes in the area.
John Vail, who is running against Farr in the Ward 2 election next month, questioned the timing of passing the plan now. But both councillors and staff told him it was part of the strategic mandate of the council to get development going in Barton-Tiffany.
Plan could have gone further: Collins
Coun. Chad Collins, in a sentiment echoed by several other councillors on the committee, praised the ambitious plan but said it should have gone further to include the CN Rail shunting area, which the city doesn’t control but may eventually wrest from the company.
“I think there’s a huge void in where we’re going,” Collins said, adding he doesn’t want the area’s residents cut off from the waterfront — as many in downtown Toronto are by both the rail line and the Gardiner Expressway.
“We’ve let them off the hook,” he said, referring to CN Rail.
Van der Laan de Vries says the plan works with or without being able to use that land. “If the rail lands go, it’s just going to get better,” she said, adding there will always be some rail in the area due to the new GO Transit station.
City staff said it could get to work on pricing and selling parcels of land by the end of this year or early 2015, which pleased Collins, who said he was eager to “capitalize” on the project.
“There are a lot of questions being asked in the community in terms of what’s next for the stadium lands,” he said.
“We finally have all these opportunities available at the same time.”