796 – 802 Broadview goes to council

On June 13th the East York and Toronto Community Council will look at the development proposal for 796-802 Broadview. If the address doesn’t sound familiar perhaps its other infamous name “The Vape Lounge” night trigger some memory.

This property overlooks the houses to the west from 61 to 65 Cambridge. The built form follows the Mid-Rise guidelines of a 20m height with a 5m mechanical penthouse. The angles of the western balconies ensure setbacks according the guides. Way more detail about the development is here.

This development has not raised much attention or resistance from the community. Likely that is because if follows the guidelines that were built into the Broadview avenue plan right from the beginning. Additionally, plans to have the parking garage access and garbage pick up from the alley between Broadview/Cambridge came to nothing preserving the ally for heavy pedestrian use (despite the occasional driver who causes problems).

This is by no means a perfect development though. It has an unnecessarily large two storey parking garage.

“The applicant proposes 48 vehicular parking spaces. This total parking supply satisfies and exceeds the total parking spaces required in the Zoning By-law.” As noted on the architectural drawings the minimum number of spaces required are 21 for the residents and 4 for the commercial. They are building nearly double the capacity.

It seems very odd to have a gate that separates 31 of the lower parking spots from 17 of the upper parking spots. Especially when “To ensure that the vehicular parking spaces are for the use of the residents, the draft zoning by-law prohibits a commercial parking lot.” Further on this point when asked Hamid Emami (Feb 22, 2015, owner) what the extra parking spots were for “We have not considered selling any of the parking spaces. There are only enough spaces for residents and visitors.”

On the other hand, Section 4.5.2 (page 111) of the Mid Rise guidelines states:

“The City should be able to lower the parking and visitor requirements for new development if developers can justify that they can meet their parking needs in creative ways (e.g. adjacent to subway or LRT stations, auto share opportunities, sharing parking between commercial and residential uses on the same site, or using surplus parking in existing developments).”

A further challenge is the exit/entrance to the parking garage which will be just to the north of where Erindale hits Broadview. This adds complication to an already messy area. To recap, we have multiple bus routes, a taxi stand, two street car lines (the 504 is the busiest in all Toronto) and the funnelling effect of the Prince Edward Viaduct to back up vehicles. Throw in the Broadview subway station’s draw on pedestrians – some who take the beeline from the Cambridge/Broadview alley to the station and it is one challenging area. More parking equals more cars going in and out.

 

The Mid-rise guides state:

“the City should be able to lower the parking and visitor requirements for new development if developers can justify that they can meet their parking needs in creative ways (e.g. adjacent to subway”

The traffic study that supports the proposal indicates the whole area is going to traffic hell anyway (F level of service is the lowest rating possible)

“Future total traffic conditions (2020)

  • Danforth Avenue / Broadview Avenue – in the AM peak hour, the westbound through, northbound left-turn, and southbound through movements are expected to operate at LOS E or F and be at or above capacity (v/c = 1.00 to 1.04). Deficiencies were already noted with the background conditions. There is no space at the intersection to make any lane improvements.
  • Broadview Avenue / Erindale Avenue – the analysis indicates that the westbound movements will operate at LOS F.The westbound movements were already operating at a poor level of service with the future background conditions.
  • Broadview Avenue / Driveway – in the PM peak hour, the analysis indicates that the eastbound movement would operate at LOS F and approach capacity (v/c = 0.93).”

And this is just the first of the mid-rise developments that will be built along Broadview. It seems the buildings are fine but as long as they continue to build parking garages even at minimum standards we are going to see the Prince Edward Viaduct no longer be viable unless you are on a bike.

 

Further, we have to consider the effect of adding this extra traffic right at the point where the 504 and 505 begin their journeys. Creating traffic jams at Erindale/Broadview will just slow down the streetcars and make the schedules more erratic and unpredictable. This at time when the City is spending millions to improve the operation of the King Car.

Full list of documentation here:

http://app.toronto.ca/DevelopmentApplications/associatedApplicationsList.do?action=init&folderRsn=3676555&isCofASearch=false&isTlabSearch=false

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About the OMB process – 958 Broadview et al.

As you know the OMB Pre-hearing conference in regards to the three appeals against the Broadview Avenue Planning Study Official Plan Amendment (OMB Case PL160686) is this Wednesday April 26, 10 AM, 655 Bay Street, north of Dundas, 16th floor, Hearing Room 16-1A.

As a matter of information from the OMB that many folks likely don’t realise: If any resident would like to make a statement/submission at an eventual OMB hearing for this case (sometime down the road), they need to go to the pre-hearing conference this Wed April 26, 10 AM, and ask for participant status (name and address requested). FYI, this happens at the beginning of the pre-hearing. 

Otherwise it’s likely they may not be allowed to speak at the OMB in regards to this matter. FYI people can withdraw later.  

FYI the pre-hearing conference while procedural, is the one point where residents can make a request to speak later in the process (at a hearing). Otherwise, as we understand, there are no other opportunities for concerned residents to make their views known.

It is a public meeting so residents are simply welcome; they don’t need to seek status.   
Here is OMB info about being a participant:

For more info on OMB process and case PL160686, people can contact:
– OMB Case Coordinator for this case: Leesa Kwong, Case Coordinator, Planner, (416) 326-6785, Leesa.Kwong@ontario.ca; or
– OMB Liaison Officer: 416-326-6792; elto.clo@ontario.ca
For info on the status of this case, go here and enter PL160686.
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958 Broadview goes to OMB

On April 26, the Board of Estonian House, Gordian Foods and the Salvation Army are named as appellants to the Ontario Municipal Board. Their aim is to enable development on their properties that go beyond what the Broadview Avenue Mid-rise plan allows.

Estonian House will get more for their property if a developer can build a monster tower instead of the 6 story mid-rise. Estonian House (and the credit union, the Estonian foundation, and Tartu college) have already checked out and aim to develop the Estonian community hub at 11 Madison Avenue. Here’s the wrinkle. In order to do so the Estonian groups aim to acquire a parking lot at 9 Madison ave from the City of Toronto.

So… Why wouldn’t the City of Toronto make the sale of 9 Madison ave to Estonian House conditional on Estonian House removing their appeal to the OMB?

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Salmon run on the Don river.

First time seeing Atlantic Chinook Salmon running upstream along the Don River. This location is just north of the Pottery Rd. bridge along the bike path. Very easy to get to.

Other locations are along the bike path south of the Pottery Rd. The easiest time to see them is as they jump over the weirs near the rapids. Be patient, they are coming through at about 1 every 3 or 4 minutes.

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TPA under fire from Board of Trade

When the TPA says public parking is “critical for economic development” and the Board of Trade says “it’s not in the public interest for the city to use municipal funds to create more parking” you can almost hear the crunch of old school TPA thinking hitting today’s reality.

Somewhere in the hallowed marble halls of the TPA is the carved inscription worshipped by all who serve the needs of cars “expanding parking is necessary to meet the needs of new local businesses”. No one ever needs to provide data to support this religion. God drives, that’s all you need to know.

The city is short of cash and is shuffling through the sofa cushions for spare change. Toronto’s vehicle traffic jams is costing business way too much money. The Toronto Board of Trade has released a report with the position that investment in transit is seen as the solution and the TPA is seen as some easy spare change to help. The supposed economic benefit of using public money to fund the development of parking lots pales relative to the economic benefit of transit.

The razor question to watch now is whether the supposed business minded Tory accepts and acts on the Board of Trade’s recommendation or does he give in to the councillors of outer Mongolia Toronto who are his supporters?

When Council endorsed a new best practice realty model that consolidates all property ownership and management under a single city-owned entity it also asked staff to consider a Toronto Parking Authority request to be effectively exempted from these changes. The Board of Trade says “On its merits, this request should have been rejected out of hand.”

Poor Lorne Persiko, president of the TPA. What he considered his unshakeable base of business support has broken into his marble halls and spray painted on the TPA’s credo – “you are in the way of progress”.

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What is the City (over)building in the valley?

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This is way bigger than it needs to be. It’s the rail bridge over the bicycle path alongside the Don River near Riverdale Park. The bicycle path used to go under the old CP Rail line in sort of double hairpin curve. As part of cycling improvements the City decided to tear out the old rail overpass and straighten out the curves. This could have been achieved by simply removing the overpass and leaving it. This train route hasn’t been used in year and there is no public plan for Metrolinx (the owners) to use it for at least 25 yrs. No train, no train bridge.

So why is the City building this extremely large foundation? To keep rain off cyclist heads?

Metrolinx could be hedging its bets. By ensuring the City pays for a replacement overpass that could carry trains then they have the option to do so. Or there could be a plan that hasn’t been given public notice to use this corridor for GO trains heading from Union station up to the mid-town line that currently carries freight. This would mean pushing freight carriage further north and using the mid-town line for GO with a stop at Summerhill.

But who knows?

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TPA data gathering & coupon strategy

I believe the Edward Deming quote “In God we trust, all others bring data” should be emblazoned in every committee and council chamber at City Hall.

The Toronto Parking Authority seems to be pivoting towards a modern data driven foundation with their latest initiative. Check this out.

What will get interesting will be what happens next. Once there is a data flow of the number of parkers/coupon redeemers, cost per coupon redeemer, the spin will begin. I expect that the TPA will see a fairly low ratio of parkers to coupon redeemers. That just happens in retail however what could get challenged is the core concept that the TPA support local business. If there are few coupon redeemers does this mean that most parkers have a different purpose other than shopping? That puts the TPA on shaky ground as the mantra of supporting local business is their raison d’être.

On the other hand, what if there are lots of coupon redeemers? That would be great as the data gets more robust with more users however there is a cost of offering temporary price reductions. And then there is the question of whether the coupon was an incentive to buy or was the shopper going to buy anyway? And finally there is the worst question which is are local retailers training shoppers to expect coupon price reductions all the time. This is the worst of all worlds because it means the TPA is no longer supporting local business, it is just giving away margin (if the retailer pays for the coupon value) or it is subsidizing parking & Brazilian waxes (if the TPA pays for the coupon value).

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John Tory’s zerovision PSA

John Tory is hearing the message about pedestrian deaths in Torono but still hasn’t wrapped his head around the cause. Here’s the Public Service Announcement. It’s the usual slow down and keep your eyes on the road, same message runs over and over and yields no results.

This is why Vision Zero came up with a new approach. What evidence shows which policy is working towards the goal of Zero pedestrian deaths from vehicles.

For example – drive south on Bayview from Pottery rd and the traffic will move at 70-80 km/hr irregardless of the posted speed limit. Same with Prince Edward Viaduct, there it’s 50km/hr speed limit with regular enforcement. The reason is both rods are 4 or 5 lanes, each lane is nice and wide and with straight roads the sight lines are long. Feels like a highway so drive near highway speed. The point is the road is designed to enable that speed.

Here is an alternate version of the PSA that John Tory should be promoting:

Toronto road design has lead to drivers to think they own the road. We can’t erase 100 years of road building overnight but it’s time to rethink Toronto’s roads, sidewalks and bike lanes.

Amsterdam came to this conclusion decades ago after an intolerable number of pedestrian deaths. At that time Amsterdam looked no different than Toronto does today; lots of traffic, parking problems and citizens complaining about congestion. Under strong pressure from citizens, the city moved away from auto centric road planning. It worked and now Amsterdam is the bike friendly Tourist magnet it is.

That’s why as your Mayor we will embark on a top to bottom review of road design policy following the Vision Zero concept. That is we aim to reduce the number of road deaths to Zero. That is a lofty goal. However working with other cities such as New York, Amsterdam, London and Paris we will be adopting a different way to get Toronto moving.

 

 

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Seniors, city planning & safety

Attend any community meeting and look around the room at the residents. Ask “What’s the average age in the room?” My guess is that it’s around 65. This demographic is heavily invested in property, has the time to attend meetings, has the business and management expertise and often is deeply concerned about their community.

Statistics show they are the most likely to get killed as pedestrians. It will be crossing a 4 lane road and they will get hit by a car although minivans are right up there too. Although it might be crossing mid-block, crosswalks or lights don’t make them immune. A speed limit of 50kmhr nearly guarantees death on collision, even 40 is dangerous to pedestrians.

So why when we have community meetings is so much emphasis placed on parking and traffic congestion? Perhaps it would be more helpful and insightful to ask this demo to think of what they would like to see in the planning sessions for 10-15 years from now. Imagine you are 80, you don’t drive, you would like to get to the pharmacy, convenience store or pick up groceries. What would you like to see on your avenue? How wide is the sidewalk, how fast are the cars going, how long will the lights favour your crossing, should we allow left turns?

As a community we have to think of our most vulnerable members, the youngest and the oldest. It may be best to be selfish because one day we will all be seniors.

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Native Plant Sale.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 10.14.58 AMORDER HERE!

Funds support the activities of the Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve.

Native plants grow best in your garden because millions of years of evolution can’t be wrong. They are suited to the soil, the crappy winters, they expect the usual rainfall and eventually get so dense they beat up on weeds. If you are a lazy would be gardener who uses the excuse “I don’t know what to plant” go easy on yourself and choose a bunch of stuff from the list and stick it in your garden.

Picture above is wild bergamot also known as Bee Balm. Smells like Earl Grey Tea.

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