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Massive development good or bad for St. James Town?

Posted by Robyn Urback / February 4, 2013

St James Town TorontoWith close to 18,000 residents living within a few city blocks (and that's only according to official records — the actual number is believed to be much greater), North St. James Town is, without question, the most densely populated community in Canada. And if plans for a three-block overhaul are brought to fruition, that density will surely be pushed to the limit.

Already under consideration for more than a year, the project would see four new towers with heights up to 50 storeys erected along Bloor Street from Sherbourne to Parliament, along with a five-storey residential structure, a row of semi-detached houses, and a low-rise mixed-use commercial and residential structure. In all, the Lanterra Developments project would make some 1,800 new units available for occupancy, along with parking for over 1,100 cars.

St James Town TorontoSt James Town TorontoSt James Town TorontoIf you head to the area in question now — that is, the wedge between Bloor and Howard streets, intersected by Glen Road — you'll find rows of boarded-up former heritage homes (the designation was revoked), a couple of small food shops, and not a whole lot else. Not the best use of urban space mind you, but if you ask many nearby residents, it's better than the proposed alternative.

Critics of the mega-development have cited concerns about excessive heights, density, and increased traffic congestion, specifically as they relate to the proposed towers along Bloor. Of particular worry is the likelihood that the structures will cast shadows over the Rosedale Ravine and South Rosedale.

St James Town TorontoSt James Town TorontoSt James Town TorontoAnd it's not just St. James Town's neighbours who are wary of the impact of the development. The Wellesley Institute reported that existing residents would much rather see the space put toward additional resources or services for the community, rather than simply adding density, which only exacerbates the strain on the already-limited system.

north st james toronto development torontonorth st james toronto development torontonorth st james toronto development torontoThere's no question that this area has been long overlooked, but is adding a few thousand new residents really the way to go? (Though I suppose that's a moot point, considering the progression of the plans.) And if Lanterra gets its way, will north St. James Town really develop for the better?

St James Town TorontoSt James Town TorontoSt James Town TorontoSt James Town TorontoPreviously:

Will the City's heritage laws save Glen Road?



K. / February 4, 2013 at 09:33 am
No sense lamenting what's already in progress. Perhaps this article would have been more useful a couple years ago when the proposal was still up for debate.
Jerdan / February 4, 2013 at 10:01 am
This is good if done right. I think we have to give up the notion of the 'cutesy poor', those photogenic wrinklies and amusing loud cynics who many feel represent the typical person in a neighborhood of 'urban' character. For every one of those is dozens of lethargic, half-dead, possibly violent souls, including many likely unfit parents. A mixture of very successful new urban communities such as CAMH at Queen W and Liberty Village are examples of urban done right. No dilapidated and character-filled but truly failed communities such as Kensington Market. Less artsy, bohemian living and more 'positive value' living. Its about giving opportunity and a chance to make something of themselves and all that good right-wing stuff. A city is about people and working first - parks and entertainment second. What is the purpose of giving people a place to play if they haven't worked a good hard day to deserve it. You may think that dignity is about avoiding menial work and maximizing your potential for society, but accepting that someone is above working no matter what suffering or concerns they are going through, is just giving pity, and that's the most vile thing you could ever give someone. But it all starts with a healthy home and community - hopefully the city and the developer can bring it - mixed in with market-value living.
Tim / February 4, 2013 at 10:01 am
It's a shame that the homes on this site were left to waste, however perhaps redevelopment is a good thing. Developers *could* choose to spend their money elsewhere.
hmmm / February 4, 2013 at 10:07 am
If this development attracts more middle class- high income residents, I think it will actually really help the area. Mixed income neighbourhoods are a good thing to aspire to, ghettos really ought to be broken. Gentrification should happen cautiously, but I can't see the st jamestown towers become hot real estate and forcing out low income residents. Hopefully it will help by bringing sustainable services to the area.
Christopher King / February 4, 2013 at 10:10 am
I have no idea how the developer and the City expect to manage 1100 extra cars in that neighbourhood.
Mind you, chances are good the first thing to go when it comes time will be the new bike path on Sherbourne to make room for additional traffic
the lemur replying to a comment from Christopher King / February 4, 2013 at 10:27 am
Wishful thinking ... don't count on it.

This would be right next to Sherbourne station, plus most traffic in the area would be heading to Bloor E, Parliament, Jarvis/Mt Pleasant.
Pete / February 4, 2013 at 10:30 am
That street was beautiful once. I love the Sherbourne entrance there as well. It has (had) a very neighboury feel to it. Too bad the houses were left to waste.
Christian Bobak / February 4, 2013 at 10:42 am
I used to live at number 6 Glen Rd. until a fire, started by the caretaker when he fell asleep with a lit cigarette on his couch, gutted the place in June of 2001.

Just weeks and several days before, I had notified both the city and the fire department (the fire department was located only about 50 metres away at the end of the block) about the fire hazard that place posed because of the caretaker's hoarding of old, broken furniture all over the place, blocking exits and filling entire rooms until they became uninhabitable. Despite repeated calls and warnings by me, the city and the fire department ignored the warnings, both refusing to conduct inspections.

On the morning of the fire, I was awakened to the sound of multiple smoke alarms. Upon opening my door, I saw nothing but smoke and flames engulfing the stairs, so I had to escape by jumping out of the second-story window shown in the top-right of the third photo down.

The place was managed by Greenwin Property Management who absolved themselves of all responsibility, refusing to put any of the tenants up for the night or find us a new place to live.
David / February 4, 2013 at 11:22 am
I shudder to think of the potential passengers heading west on the subway in the morning.
Rob / February 4, 2013 at 11:51 am
Shame those old houses couldn't have been saved - they would have been worth a pretty penny given their size and location
jameson / February 4, 2013 at 11:53 am
I have to say, the choice of images for this article really don't make any sense...why not get into the actual specifics are the development rather than the technical information?

It's impossible to make any claims about the planning implications of this development if you don't state anything about the project other than the amount of people proposed in the towers. 1300 units might be a lot of units, but it depends on the size of the site. If you have a very big site, 1300 unit might be incredibly reasonable, if it's small, it might be completely unacceptable.

1100 parking spaces sounds like bunk to me. Besides that, there's really nothing in this article to advance a proper dialogue regarding the just development of Toronto.
Kat / February 4, 2013 at 12:36 pm
Seeing the old houses demolished makes me sad, but as an earlier comment mentioned, poverty and dilapidation do not equal character. I think the introduction of mixed use (and mixed income) development will be a good thing for the neighbourhood.
DMS / February 4, 2013 at 05:01 pm
If you look at the proposal, it actually states it is restoring all of the houses on Glen Road as well as the Anson Jones House on Sherbourne and Howard. This was confirmed by someone involved in the project as I walked past the houses in December. Sounds like the project will get underway this year after the winter.

I don't agree with the scope of this project but I am definitely happy to hear those particular houses will be salvaged. There's so much history there if you do the research.

Also interesting/funny that the Glen Road houses have their own twitter handle: @GlenRdHousesTO
Kpd replying to a comment from Jerdan / February 5, 2013 at 12:02 am
True dat. Finally some sense in this commie rag!
triage / February 5, 2013 at 10:10 am
Should have wrote this several years ago. What a waste of space.
Alex / February 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm
That is one risky move by the developer to build all those units in a bad area and hope people will by them for the prices asked. Very risky for the investors who bought the units too, because if this just further ghetto-izes the neighbourhood they've lost big time.

Sounds like a good idea though, bringing in mixed incomes to the neighbourhood to help gentrify it. Problem is usually the stores and services in a particular area are catered to the residents, but if you have people with more money those types of stores will take precedence, and the low income residents won't be able to afford shopping in their own neighbourhood. Hopefully they find a good balance.
Jimmy / February 6, 2013 at 12:11 am
Don't worry! Be happy! Everything's going to be alright.
DXB321 / February 6, 2013 at 08:17 am
Robyn, please read the City Council decision again. The heritage status for these homes was not revoked, but merely rewritten to exclude the west (rear) wings of them, likely because they were added after initial construction and do not have heritage standing, as well as to allow for more redevelopment of the rear of the properties. The homes remain in the City's inventory of heritage properties. Thanks.
marco replying to a comment from Christian Bobak / February 14, 2013 at 01:38 pm
Hi Christian Bobak,
I'm looking into these old houses for the Toronto Star. I'd like to get in touch with some old residents. Email me:
Elric / April 16, 2013 at 04:22 am
@Jerdan -Wow JERDAN, judge much??
Your comments about the local residents are ignorant and full of assumptions.
enchiridion / April 22, 2013 at 10:49 am
You guys are hilarious to think a Developer thinks about anything other than making as much money as possible.
Alan / November 15, 2013 at 12:41 pm
Unfortunately this will proceed since the councillor for the area is Pam MacConnell who is percieved by many of the constituants to be in the developer's pockets ever since she added an amendment to the Tall Building's Act passed by council, she added that Howard Street (which is on the brunt of this project) be exempted from the Tall Building's ruling purely in favor on this 1 developer, overiding all the concerns and vocal objections. Who cares that Rob Ford is a bumbling idiot, it's councillors that do backroom deals like this tha we should be really worried about
Jim Houston / November 27, 2015 at 01:17 pm
I'm crushed. 45 years ago I worked a community development worker and tenant organizer in St Jamestown. One of my little "triumphs" was to work with some residents to get Julie Handon of Meridian to agree to retain the heritage houses and to keep the pointy corner as park. I tell my grandkids to think of it as "bumps Memorial Park". Better go take some pictures.
And I'll be asking Pam McConnell what the hell?
Jim Houston / November 27, 2015 at 01:30 pm
"Buppa", not "Bumps".
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