Cranes in the sky

City Launches Development Application Status Website

The City of Toronto is increasingly using the web as a means to keep Torontonians 'in the loop' concerning its activities. As part of this initiative, the city recently launched its Development Application Status website. The site allows the public to view detailed information on all of the city's development projects dating back to January 1, 2006.

Those adventurous (or bored) readers willing to check the site out may find it a bit bland and cumbersome, as it doesn't utilize Google maps or other Web 2.0 tools -- but don't worry. The February 3rd launch date is the first of two phases, with city planning to launch an interactive, 'dynamic' map to help users search for current developments (launch date TBD).

The city thinks the website is an ideal way to keep citizens both informed and involved in local development. "The Development Application Status website is a service initiative that makes the planning process more accountable to the public through greater accessibility and transparency," says the Chief Planner Gary Wright. "This will be a useful tool for residents and the development industry."

I think the timing for the website couldn't have come at a better time. The housing meltdown south of the border and the nagging fear that the Canadian real estate market isn't far behind are pushing more and more people to pay closer attention to local development. Just look at some of the real estate issues plaguing the West Coast as reason enough to stay abreast of both current and planned projects.

In a recent article, I talked about the conversion of a historic landmark to condos. In the article I also pointed to a number of other recent developments where a church or other 'historic' buildings have been transformed into condos. One of the buildings I talk about sits on Dovercourt, just south of Bloor. The building is not finished, and it seems to me, to have been under perpetual construction.

So, out of curiosity, I researched the building on the government's new website. I found out that the project has been approved multiple times to, "Convert existing place of worship (centennial United Church to residential building containing 28 dwelling units and below grade garage." But recently, a new developer has taken over the project and scrapped plans to include a below grade garage.

The information would be of use to local residents, as it means there may be 28 new condos on the street, with no added parking. It may also be a sign that the economic downturn is starting to take its toll on developers in the city. Either way, the website was a quick and easy way to take a look at the projects happening in the neighbourhood. For those readers blessed (or cursed) with the real estate bug, the site will surely provide an easy way to kill some time at work.

Photo by Christian Jackson

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