My deputation to TEYCC - June 18, 2013

Speaking in opposition to TE25.9 (Final Report - 2263-2287 Yonge Street, 8-10 Eglinton Avenue East, 25 and 25R Roehampton Avenue -  Zoning Amendment and Rental Demolition Application under Municipal Code 667)

Good afternoon. My name is Sean Boulton and I live at the very top of Councillor Matlow's Ward 22. Although, it would be more accurate to say that I live in the Yonge-Eglinton Urban Growth Centre because, for all practical purposes, that's the only identification for my neighbourhood that matters anymore. 

I'm not a fan of this proposal. I think both towers are too tall. I think it's a waste of what could be a marquee intersection to throw up a condo on the corner. I think the construction, along with the redevelopment of the mall AND the work for the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT, is going to turn the intersection into a mess for years. 

However, my concern is more about the ongoing effect of this proposal, and all of the others like it. Yonge and Eglinton is being crushed under the weight of residential development. I recently took a walk and mapped all of these projects, a copy of which you have. I covered the complete Urban Growth Centre, as well as a block south and the missing chunk in the top left corner — an area less than one square kilometre in total. 

Within this area, I counted 31 buildings that have either been built in the last decade, are going up now, or are at some stage in the development process. 31 buildings, with approximately 10,200 residential units ranging in size from bachelors to three bedrooms. Not all of that construction is new — between 1.5 and 2% of it is rental replacement — but it is overwhelmingly net growth. 

Even if each of those 10,000 plus units only held one person, this would be the equivalent of the town of Hawkesbury, Ontario moving into the neighbourhood. If each unit held an average of 1.5 people — which I'd suggest is still a pretty conservative estimate — then we're rolling out the welcome mat for Kenora, Ontario. Kenora, by the way is 211.75 square kilometres, or nearly 300 times larger than the area I mapped. 

Now, I'm not against intensification, and I realize that there are good urban planning arguments for having it along major streets and transit lines. But adding density needs to come hand-in-hand with adding infrastructure, or else quality of life is diminished. A few examples: 

  • The Yonge subway line is overcrowded already and, once it's complete, the LRT is going to feed that many more people to Eglinton Station. I can tell you first hand that the stories of it taking two or three trains before being able to get on at Eglinton during morning rush hour are not apocryphal — they're very real, and I've chosen surface transportation in the mornings as a result. If I have trouble getting to work today, how is Kenora going to get to work?
  • There is one very old and very crowded grocery store in the mall, and no other full-size grocery store until you reach the corner of Eglinton and Bayview, about 2 km away. Where is Kenora going to buy their food? 
  • The mall redevelopment is eliminating one of the few remaining open outdoor areas in the neighbourhood. With a deficit of parkland, where is Kenora going to gather as a community? Where are Kenora's kids going to play? 
  • Where is Kenora going to send their children to school? When they get sick, how is Kenora going to get in to see a doctor at a walk-in clinic? If they're seriously ill or injured, how long will Kenora have to wait at the emergency room at Sunnybrook Hospital? 

Individually, none of these 31 buildings is a problem. They'll each have studies showing negligible impacts on shadows, and traffic, and public transit. But the real question is, what is their collective impact? What is negligible times 31? 

Recently, we had what amounted to a pause in development for the Yonge/Orchard View/Duplex/Helendale block in ward 16, to consult with the community on an Area Specific Official Plan for these streets. Tonight, we'll hear the results of that study. That's an excellent start, but it's not enough. 

This neighbourhood spans three wards, and two Community Councils. That makes planning a challenge, and I know that the Midtown Planning Group was formed a little under a year ago to work jointly on this problem. That's an excellent start, but it's not enough. 

So, I'm here today to ask you to give Yonge and Eglinton a break, just for now. To ask you to study the effects of development on the neighbourhood, and to make sure we're meeting the needs of both the existing residents and those that are surely to come. To ask for an aggressive effort to create a comprehensive plan for the Yonge-Eglinton Urban Growth Centre, and preferably a plan that's more nuanced than "add as many people as possible because the province says so, and to heck with the consequences". I'm here today to ask you to say "not yet" to this proposal — not no, and not forever, but just for now. 

Thank you.