Wesley Mimico update – a second submission for the rezoning application

I’ve been following with interest the Wesley Mimico United Church redevelopment story since February 2012.

From what I can gather, the heritage attributes of the Wesley Mimico United Church building, as identified by City of Toronto heritage preservation staff, will determine the narrative arc of the redevelopment.

I learned about the project when I was contacted by a Mimico resident after I had set up an email distribution list when I had developed an interest in the future of Parkview School. The resident wasn’t on my mailing list at the time but had spoken with someone who was. After I learned of the project, I began talking to people online and in person. Eventually, I began to read extensively about church redevelopment in Toronto and elsewhere. I’ve also attended many of the community meetings organized by the Faith & Hope Team.

I mention that because I live in Long Branch, not Mimico, but as a result of networking related to Parkview School I’ve been able to learn many things. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to share information, in a small way, regarding the Wesley Mimico redevelopment, through posts at the Preserved Stories website.

I find it remarkable how chance flows of communication involving emails and face to face meetings can have such a tremendous impact on subsequent flows of information.

I mention this because I find it’s really important. My way of looking at the unfolding Wesley Mimico story – in the heart of Mimico – has been strongly influenced by the network of contacts that I developed as the Parkview story – in Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey), relatively speaking a significant distance to the west of Mimico – was under way.

Without that network of contacts, and the insights and information that I’ve gained from it, I would not have had a clue how to orient myself with regard to the story that is connected to the redevelopment of Wesley Mimico United Church.

The experience – which really started with some chance encounters, first regarding Parkview, then regarding the church – has underlined for me how valuable it is when a person has access to a wide range of relevant information, and a wide range of viewpoints regarding how best to address such information. It’s a great learning experience. I’ve learned so many things, from so many great people.

Two of the key things I’ve learned you may already know about, but they were new for me. First, I learned about the power of networking; I learned that networking is an acquired skill, like learning to ride a bicycle.

Secondly, I learned that there are many situations where what I see – what is available to me by way of information, from my vantage point as an everyday person – is limited. With the help of other people, and with an awareness of how little I know to start with, I can learn many new things – that otherwise I would never learn.

Proportional spacing

In the following text, I have not reduced the space after the period to one space, rather than two. Two spaces aren’t needed. They have not been needed since the days of typewriters. Word processing uses variable proportion fonts, meaning that one space after a period is enough to indicate that a sentence has ended. With uniformly proportioned typewriter fonts such as the traditional Courier font, if you didn’t use two spaces, it was hard to tell where one sentence ended and where the next one begun. Often I correct text that has the two spaces after the period, but sometimes I don’t as time is limited.

The detail about proportional spacing is something that a professor teaching a course in Educational Administration mentioned in the early 1980s, when I was in the Bachelor of  Education program at the University of Toronto. It’s one of those details, from those years, that has stayed in mind. A paper I wrote – about the conceptual underpinnings for home schooling – for the course was subsequently published in an academic journal – one of the other small details from the past that also remains in mind for me.

The instructor, who had a good sense of humour and understanding of things, was a former Toronto principal who had become a superintendent, after which he made the switch to academic life. His was one of several memorable Faculty of Education courses that have stayed in mind for me, several decades later.

For freelance writers, the switch from typewriters to word processors was a major step forward – you no longer had to type out a final, new version of your story. You simply made the revisions, and then printed out the revised version. The first time that I encountered that concept, I was delighted. That really made a difference.

Correction: My WordPress platform has automatically reduced the extra space after the period, in the text that followed, so that instead of two spaces, it’s one space, after all.

That’s great to know!

Cover letter

The following cover letter is from the Faith & Hope Team at Wesley Mimico United Church/Wesley Mimico Place:

19 February 2014

Ms. Kathryn Thom, Toronto Planning Department

Re: Rezoning Application – 2 Station Road. File # # 13 143167WET06OZ

Dear Kathryn:

It is with great pleasure that we offer to you and your colleagues Wesley Mimico United Church’s second submission for the April 1, 2013 rezoning application to “repurpose, renew, and add to” the church building at the corner of Station Road and Mimico Avenue.

This second submission is the product of many conversations with community residents, congregational members, City heritage and planning staff, and consultation with many community groups and leaders. As a result significant changes can be noted between the first and this submission.

The Wesley Faith and Hope Team believes that this much anticipated submission describes an attractive and effective facility – Wesley Mimico Place, to be a social, spiritual, and residential centre to help revitalize the Mimico-Lakeshore area. The proposal aims to “keep the bell of Wesley ringing” and to continue the church’s historic role as a landmark location for the Mimico-Lakeshore area. We believe that the renewed facility will add to the neighbourhood’s residential “feel” and will function as an excellent neighbour at this key Mimico corner.

The most obvious changes to be noted are the reduction in the number of seniors’ owner-occupied housing units from 40 to 30, an increase in the community outreach space, and the provision of residents’ outdoor amenity space. These adjustments reduce Gross Floor Area from the original 38,545 sq. ft. to 37,741 sq. ft.

The overall reduction in GFA was incurred because of the enhanced consideration of the building’s heritage features and careful attention to urban design aspects, especially at the north end of the building. The addition to the south end of the building, replacing the 21-stair entry to the worship space, will for the first time in its history render the building and its sanctuary fully accessible, in complete compliance with requirements of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005).

As a community-based, non-profit development, Wesley Mimico Place will be much better able to provide attractive space for community programs and activities in the flexible space of both the sanctuary/hall and the David Hornell Centre for Community. The Louise & Amos Waites Residence will provide safe and comfortable housing for seniors and persons with disabilities choosing to live in this walkable neighbourhood. As well, the sanctuary/hall will serve as home-base for the Wesley Mimico United Church congregation to continue its more than 150 years of presence as a centred and active anchor community fostering well-being in Ward 6.

We believe that the Etobicoke-Lakeshore community is waiting impatiently for this project to move towards completion. We know that the congregation is ready to take next steps for construction to start. We look forward to a planning report that will help Councillors’ understand fully the value of this visionary renewal project and the enthusiasm with which area residents greet its progress.

Thanks to you, your colleagues, the many supportive people, and to our project consultants, all of whom have contributed to this second submission. We look forward to your favourable response.

Sincerely,

Harry

A.H.Harry Oussoren

For the Faith & Hope Team

cc: Mary MacDonald, Heritage Preservation Services; Jack Krubnik, Urban Design; Bill Kiru, City Planning; Councillor Mark Grimes; Mary Louise Ashbourne, Etobicoke York Community Preservation Panel; Denise Harris, Etobicoke Historical Society; Council of WMUC; Board of Wesley Mimico Place; Faith & Hope Team; Finance & Governance Working Group (F&H; Ground Floor Working Group).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Summary of key aspects of Submission # 2

• Senior’s ownership apartments reduced from 40 to 30 units.

• 25 underground parking spaces retained; entrance ramp to parking garage is through the former north face that will be removed to make way for north addition.

• Gross floor area reduced from 38,545 sq. ft. to 37,741 as step backs for each residential floor are introduced – particularly in the north façade.

• No balconies on east façade – to maintain heritage character; nor on the west façade – to minimize overlook to the west.

• Step backs reduce massing on newly designed north addition.

• A review of “constructability” by a structural engineer confirms the existing heritage facades on the south, east and west can be safely supported during interior renovations and new construction.

• Ease of accessibility throughout building secured by central placement of elevator;

• Main entrance to facility restored to bottom of bell tower (as per 1922 design).

• Bell tower, narthex and other character defining features of building remain highly visible.

• The main new additions on north and south sides are differentiated from the heritage retained facades by a 1.5 foot black glass reveal and use of lighter coloured bricks, harmonious in tone.

 

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