Further comments regarding Mr. Christie Bakery and Humber Bay Shores

A recent blog post regarding the closing of Mr. Christie’s Bakery has given rise to more recent comments (please see second comment below, from Peter Riedel)

Comment regarding review of Official Plan

Following report of a discussion is from Jaan Pill:

I asked a person, who like many people has more knowledge about these topics than I have, whether she thinks there is value in offering community input regarding the review of the Official Plan. Her advice was along the following lines:

With regards to the Official Plan, she thinks it tends to be a broader focus than what we are looking for with the bakery. The developers will be making an application for an amendment to the land use, and at that point, will be required to have community consultations.

“Mobilizing the community in advance will be key. It’s something that should be done in conjunction with Mark Grimes’ office,” she remarked. “It will make the community voice that much stronger.”

She also remarked that important that the community voice appear reasonable and willing to work with the landowner: Simply saying no or stonewalling will frustrate the landowner, can lead to confrontational meetings, and can be more detrimental in the long run, in her view. She added: While it is important that we voice our concerns, we should not appear as NIMBY’s.

I found these comments of value. There is so much value in engaging in ongoing conversations about these topics.

[Conclusion of report of a discussion]

Comment from Peter Riedel regarding Humber Bay shoreline

You don’t have to spend a very long time exploring the recent developments along and nearby the Humber Bay shoreline to realize the evolution of the vertical suburb that is emerging there. The massing, height and distancing of the condominiums along that stretch of waterfront conveys an impression of a building storage depot where towers are temporarily placed and awaiting shipment to other locations in the city. Unfortunately that’s not the case. What you see is what you get: a mass of residential towers plunked in what looks to be a random fashion along the waterfront. What’s more, there is little in the way of retail development to serve the growing population in the area. Also missing is commercial space for employment, and room for services necessary to a growing community. Presently, most of those things must be accessed by automobile.

The intensity of development proposed for the Mister Christie’s site would appear to be following the same pattern: a concentration of a large number of buildings with little consideration given to planning or building a coherent community or an engaging neighbourhood. There are already a number of developments nearby that hint of what is to become of this area – and it is not particularly inviting.

Developers are now very skilled in identifying the narrow market segments where their condominium apartment products will have their greatest appeal: singles and couples who are looking to live near the city before moving off elsewhere to raise a family. As a result, buildings are sold on the basis of “lifestyle” and the vague allure of condo living. Typically, families need not apply when considering these new developments. There is little in the way of new schools, libraries, community centres or transit for the population. The lack of diverse retail means driving to shop, few restaurants means driving for a meal out, and employment lies elsewhere. Such an environment may also not be particularly appealing to many seniors either, for many of the same reasons. In short, the most notable quality of this emerging community is the lack of the physical necessities or critical mass of mixed-housing, diverse stores, offices, and services that are essential to defining a coherent community neighbourhood.

The other loss is the Christie site itself, and the reality of losing employment lands in the city. The elimination of the plant and the wholesale rezoning for single use (residential) means little opportunity for evolving a mixed-use living environment (live-work). Given the pattern already established in the area, the limitations of this type of development will only become more obvious as the pattern is replicated and expanded in the area: the high-rise suburb – with the worst connotations being emphasized.

The city gets stuck with this kind of development for a number reasons. Unbridled development, poor planning, lack of political will and a populace unsure about what to do and in no way united on a way to proceed. That said, city planning should never be left to developers solely interested in marketing lifestyle and making a profit selling units. In turn, city planners should take responsibility to push developers to recognize the qualities that contribute to creating engaging neighbourhoods (Toronto has some very nice examples to emulate), and some of those planners should reacquaint themselves with the necessary elements of good planning for people and sustainable communities. Citizens should ask themselves about what is best for the long term, and demand that development be about city-building, and not about “development.” Finally, city councilors should aim to engage people in the act of building for the future rather than rubber-stamping buildings for present market needs. Nothing less than the city itself is at stake.

 

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