yonge eglinton condos

Toronto neighbourhood is asking Province to stop letting developers build huge condos

One of Canada's most dense neighbourhoods is expected to see its population nearly triple by 2051, but the current infrastructure won't be able to handle the load, says Councillor Josh Matlow.

The Ward 12 councillor has been petitioning against the rampant construction of tall condos in the Yonge and Eglinton area while neighbourhood services struggle to keep up. 

"The challenge we have at Yonge and Eglinton is that the growth happened, but the infrastructure services have not kept up with the pace of growth," said Matlow to blogTO. 

Affordable childcare centres, affordable housing, and green spaces are just a few shortages that have been identified by the neighbourhood.

Elementary schools in the Yonge-Eglinton centre and Davisville Village have been over and at capacity for years. The TDSB has stated that there "continues to be significant accommodation pressures at local elementary schools."

Due to limited land, the school board has proposed exploring educational spaces incorporated into mixed-use buildings, but no new developments incoming to the area have included any such plans so far.

Concerns of water and sewage capacity in the area have previously led City planning staff to request a halt on a condo development. Thanks to ongoing LRT construction, sidewalk capacity is restricted too.

But following outrage in 2019 over changes to the Midtown in Focus plan, which saw the Province override years of municipal planning, zoning limits have changed and rules have been loosened around shadowing and building setbacks.

That means new developments in the area are now taller and bigger than previously allowed.

The Lifetime Developments building at 36 Eglinton Ave. West is slated to become the tallest building in Toronto north of Bloor. First proposed in 2011 as a 39-storey building, plans for the condo were resubmitted as a 65-storey condo last year.

A new proposal has also been submitted to add more height to the pair of towers by Times Group Corporation at 1951 Yonge St., across from the Davisville subway station.

In 2018, City planning staff moved to halt the construction of 1951 Yonge following concerns that it would be an "overdevelopment" of the site. That was during its original proposal, as 25- and 34-storey buildings, in 2017.

The development has since pushed forward and revised plans now show the buildings taller than before, at 30 and 45 storeys. 

In a Tweet Wednesday, Matlow raised concerns about changes to the 1951 Yonge development, which will cast a shadow over neighbouring Davisville Public School from 3 p.m. to sunset every day. An originally proposed park component has also been removed from the application.

In response to a Tweet Matlow made Wednesday about the development, Adam Wilson, the Director of Communications for Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark said: "Progressive [Josh Matlow] thinks a 34 and 25 storey project - next to Toronto's subway system - is 'completely inappropriate' with 'unacceptable shadow impacts'."

"If those terms sound familiar, it's because NIMBYs have been using them for decades." 

The City estimates that there are 3,000 new residential units coming to the northeast quadrant of Yonge and Eglinton alone. In three decades, Yonge-Eglinton centre's population will have grown to approximately 49,000 residents. 

Constructing residential units near transit lines, particularly the upcoming Eglinton LRT, was highlighted as a priority in the Province's amended plans for midtown and Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act.

But Eglinton station on Line 1 was already nearing capacity prior to the pandemic and overcrowded during peak hours. 

"It's one thing to say we should be building along subway lines," says Matlow. "But you should also be able to say in the same sentence that those subway lines have the capacity to serve people that need to use it."

The councillor is urging that people sign the petition addressed to the Province requesting a number of changes to the Midtown in Focus plan, like decreasing building height allowances and requiring 10 per cent affordable housing to buildings above 80 units. 

It also demands that the Provincial government restore minimum setbacks in tower neighbourhoods and restore the original rules of the Local Appeal Planning Tribunal.

Lead photo by

Roozbeh Rokni

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