Toronto

Scarborough residents concerned over plans to turn Malvern Town Centre into condo community

A Toronto developer is proposing to tear down a Scarborough mall to create a condo community, but the local city councillor says residents are already concerned.

Plans would mean loss of supermarket, space for community health organization

Scarborough residents Sonali Bagria and Joshua Daniel both say Malvern Town Centre is important to the local community. (Alexis Raymon/CBC)

Residents and their local councillor are concerned about the future of a mall in Scarborough after a Toronto developer proposed to tear it down and create a condo community. 

The city received an application from real estate investment and property management company Davpart Inc. on July 22 to redevelop Malvern Town Centre at 31 Tapscott Rd. and build 15 towers containing more than 5,700 residential units.

According to the developer's plans, it will "intensify an underutilized site" with more housing options that will complement emerging transit projects such as the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, feature a public and private street network, and create a new public park. 

But the proposed changes, according to the local councillor, are concerning to many residents.

"It's not a done deal," Scarborough North Coun. Cynthia Lai told CBC Toronto this week.

The redevelopment would mean the loss of a supermarket, a gym, several fast-food restaurants, local businesses, and office space for the TAIBU Community Health Centre, a community health organization serving Black communities in the GTA. 

"I think it's very important our constituents know what's going on, and we would not do anything without consulting with them," said Lai.

Real estate investment and property management company Davpart Inc. wants to create a condo community on the same property Malvern Town Centre currently occupies. (City of Toronto Development Applications)

According to an email from the city of Toronto, city staff are currently reviewing the redevelopment application. A preliminary report is set to go to Scarborough Community Council in late 2022 or in 2023, with public consultation expected to follow. 

If approved, the first phase of the 10-phase plan would come with two towers 32 and 39 storeys tall on the northeast corner of the lot. The developer's plan says this would allow the mall to keep operating for the time being, and provide potential replacement retail spaces when the mall is demolished in following phases. 

Lai says she's opposed to the demolition of the entire mall and the high density of the proposed development, but would like to see an affordable housing component to the project.

"I think it's not easy to accept change, but I think we need to... work together to make sure that we manage the process, and change for the better of everybody."

Future of health centre up in the air

TAIBU Community Health Centre executive director Liben Gebremikael says the centre has operating from the same lot as the Malvern Town Centre since 2011. He says they're still trying to find out how the potential redevelopment would impact their services.

"We have not been told a definitive answer," said Gebremikael.

The health centre is located in a community where there's no adequate support or services for many of its clients, many of which are low income and face barriers accessing health services, according to Gebremikael.

In the past two years, he says the centre has also been providing income, housing, food and mental health support to other groups like Indigenous and racialized communities that have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The services are critical to our communities."

Scarborough's Malvern Town Centre is facing possible demolition after developer Davpart Inc. submitted a proposal to the City of Toronto to replace it with a condo community instead. (Jessica Ng/CBC)

Gebremikael says the centre has been growing "exceptionally" through the years, and has been struggling to find adequate space for programming as a result. Moving forward, he says finding a permanent location would be the ultimate goal.

"It's time for us to to really think about what our situation is going to look like, even though we don't have enough information and we don't know how this is going to proceed."

'It's heartbreaking'

Community resident Sonali Bagria visits Malvern Town Centre on a weekly basis for errands. After hearing about the demolition plans, she wonders what will happen to the people who work there, like some of her friends.

"If they're going to take their employment, where are they going to go?" said Bagria. 

Joshua Daniel, 19, grew up around the area, and has been going to the Malvern Town Centre for years. He says the town centre is a place of bonding for him and his friends, and many others in the community.

"It's heartbreaking," said Daniel.

"Some people spend their lives here, whether it's going to the Pizza Pizza or going to the McDonald's, having a drink with their friends, that type of thing. They ruin all those memories."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vanessa Balintec is a reporter for CBC Toronto who likes writing stories about labour, equity and community. She previously worked for stations in New Brunswick and Kitchener-Waterloo. You can reach her at vanessa.balintec@cbc.ca and on Twitter at @vanessabalintec.

With files from Tyson Lautenschlager

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