Why the Galleria Mall redevelopment has some neighbours worried, and others thrilled

Toronto West-enders have mixed feelings when it comes to the redevelopment of the Galleria Mall.

An official application for the redevelopment is now under review by the city

A new proposal would see the Galleria Mall replaced by a 4.8-hectare mixed-use development. (City of Toronto planning department)

A massive redevelopment plan for the Galleria Mall now being considered at city hall is inspiring some mixed feelings among residents who live nearby. 

An official proposal was submitted on Sept. 30 to the City of Toronto's planning department by Freed Developments and Elad Canada, bringing the much-talked-about venture closer to fruition. 

The revamp, dubbed Reimagine Galleria, would see the antiquated 1970s mall at Dupont and Dufferin Streets demolished and replaced by a mixed-use development. The 4.8-hectare site would house 13 new buildings, a community centre, office and retail space, a plaza and a park. 

Residents react 

Marie Foley, who has lived in the neighbourhood for the last 17 years, said it's time to say goodbye to the eyesore.

"Galleria was old a long while ago. Anything they do to that mall is going to be good for the community." 

Michael Burry, who has lived next door to the mall with his wife and three kids for over a decade, admits the area is in need of a facelift. But he says he will be sad to see many local Portuguese seniors lose their go-to spot for coffee and conversation.

"There's a lot of retirees in the mall that call it home, and I think they're very sad, too." 

'Height and density is definitely too much'

The condo buildings in the site plan range from 10 to 42 storeys and contain more than 3,000 residential units. Some of them will be rental units and 150 will be designated as affordable housing, according to the redevelopment plan.

Coun, Ana Bailao, who represents Ward 18, Davenport, said she will be pushing hard to make sure the developers follow through on their promise to provide affordable housing.

She said there are some good principles in the application, but the "height and density is definitely too much." Not having adequate transit is a major worry. "We don't want this to be the Liberty Village or CityPlace, where all the buildings came in and transit was an afterthought," she said.  

Bailao has already put forward a motion to have the Toronto Transit Commission start looking at the pressures new developments are putting on the Dufferin and Dupont Street buses. 

Bailao is pleased the developers have engaged the community in the planning process. Several open houses have been held to collect feedback. She said the next one, planned for Oct. 15 is sure to be a full house.

"We are going to be making sure good planning principles are adhered to and that this is a development that not only benefits the new residents that are coming to our neighbourhood, but it benefits the community at large. A true city-building exercise."

Officials in the city's planning department say it could take 10 to 15 years for the project, if it goes ahead, to be completed.

The city's chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, says the project has the potential to help the west end neighbourhood as it rapidly gentrifies. and says the project will help.

"The challenge moving forward will be to ensure that the development fully integrates with, instead of overwhelming, the adjacent neighbourhood," she said.

"But given the scale of the site, there is ample opportunity to accommodate these transitions."