'People or parking? Pick one': Toronto housing watchdog gets city to park plans for Green P lot
City had plans to bulldoze homes, businesses to build surface-level parking at Eglinton and Caledonia
The city is holding off on plans to bulldoze three buildings to make way for a surface Green P parking lot because, as one housing advocate points out, the project explicitly contradicts the city's own affordable housing initiative.
"I thought it was a joke," said affordable housing activist Mark Richardson after he crashed a meeting of the Toronto Parking Authority Wednesday at city hall to campaign against the plan.
Staffers at that meeting were going to vote on the $850,000 tender for the demolition of the two commercial/residential buildings on the site and a single-family home.
The Housing Now plan aims to build 40,000 affordable rental units over the next 12 years.
Also part of the Housing Now mission is to build, "Livable communities near transit."
If constructed, the proposed parking lot at the corner of Caledonia Road and Eglinton Avenue West would have spaces for about two dozen vehicles.
The project would not only mean the loss of several apartments and a house, it would also be within 500 metres of the future Caledonia Station — the transit hub slated to open in 2021 that will service the Barrie GO Train line and the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
"It was two, three weeks ago this item first was popped up on the agenda and we couldn't believe it," said Richardson.
Richardson figured he ought to say something before the wrecking ball came out, so he attended Wednesday's meeting with a presentation titled, People -or- Parking? Pick ONE.
"The only option was to show up and to sort of state our case with the photographs, with the maps and say if you care about housing, if you care about transit oriented development, the idea of tearing down housing viable housing near transit is insanity."
Brad Ross, the chief communications officer for the city, said the board and city manager agreed to defer the matter and consult CreateTO, the city's real estate team responsible for making decisions about whether to sell city-owned land.
"The board wanted CreateTO's insight, this land was purchased prior to CreateTO's creation, hence the deferral," Ross told CBC Toronto in an emailed statement.
Ford-era property purchase
According to Toronto Parking Authority documents, demolishing the home would provide "improved access as well as enhanced visibility to the new car park from Caledonia Road."
The documents also reveal the lot was originally proposed as a means of offsetting any on-street parking that could be lost in the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
"It was a different mayor, a different city manager, different Toronto Parking Authority people," explained Richardson.
"Let's look at this with fresh eyes in 2019 in the middle of a housing crisis.
Taking into consideration the areas aging demographic he suggests the city build affordable seniors housing on the site instead.