Planned Etobicoke development raising ire of local residents

by | Apr 17, 2015 | News

Malcolm Campbell
News Reporter

The Humber Valley Village Residents’ Association is fighting another proposed development in their backyard. Elia Corporation has slated the site, about two kilometres north of Royal York station in central Etobicoke, for a major change.

It plans to raze five, three-and-a-half storey walk up apartments, and replace them with towers varying in height from six to 16 storeys. The buildings are located on St. Steven’s Court, a few blocks north of Humbertown Plaza.

Anne Anderson, a board member for the residents’ association, says developers are keen on the area with proximity to the subway, and space to build as contributing factors in Elia’s decision to look there.

Ward 4 Councillor John Campbell said there needs to be a balance between residents and developers.

“They’re not going to put money into it (the development) out of the kindness of their hearts,” he said. “They’re going to put money into it to make money.”

Developers are looking for areas like Humber Valley to build all across the city, and the fight between the HVVRA and Elia is a possible sign of things to come.

Anderson pointed to the High Park neighbourhood in west Toronto as another example of developers taking advantage. The High Park Residents’ website is full of actions they have taken against construction companies looking to cash in.

The city also needs to continue expanding to meet the needs of citizens.

Campbell said he stands with residents on keeping the density of the neighbourhood manageable. He said he doesn’t want the three-and-a-half storey buildings replaced by eight to 10 storey towers, but encourages the prospect of change.

“This is a collection of very run-down, walk-up apartment buildings, that were built in the early 1950s,” Campbell said. “They badly need redevelopment, renovation or refurbishing.”

Anderson agrees the buildings have fallen into a state of disrepair, but doesn’t want that to allow for drastic changes to the density, and feel of the neighbourhood.

Residents are holding their breath as the Ontario Municipal Board weighs the decision. The OMB is an appeals tribunal that is put into action when one party in a dispute disagrees with a municipality’s decision.

The OMB will decide the outcome of the conflict between the HVVRA and Elia Corporation. Anderson says she is worried that the OMB will favour the developer’s cause, as they do in 65 per cent of cases. She isn’t against growth and knows the buildings are in bad shape, but she foresees problems in the area due to a rise in population.

“Royal York is two lanes, and the buses are already overcrowded,” she said.

Larry S. Bourne, emeritus professor in the geography department at the University of Toronto, said the suburbs need change to move forward.

“Most of the former suburbs need to add urban densities to their base to encourage transit use,” Bourne said.

These types of developments are cropping up across the city, causing anger and frustration among residents. Campbell says there needs to be balance between the neighbourhood and city needs.