505 parliament street toronto

Rich people are getting trolled for trying to cancel Toronto condo project

Toronto is in the midst of a housing crisis that experts have pinned on a lack of supply, but it's damn near impossible to get anything built when rich people reside nearby.

Residents of the city's wealthy Cabbagetown neighbourhood are up in arms over a condo development planned to rise ten storeys from a site on Parliament Street just north of Carlton, and their campaign to cancel the developer's plans is receiving backlash from the public.

Streetwise Capital Partners has proposed amendments to zoning by-laws (which is standard practice for new developments in the city) for an 86-unit condo at 505-509 Parliament Street.

Worried about the character of their main street, locals have created a petition on change.org calling for the city to deny the developer's proposed zoning by-law amendments, while characterizing the planned mid-rise as a "tall building."

The petition, titled "Deny request to amend the Zoning By-law to permit a tall building at 505-509 Parliament," suggests that the proposed height of over 36 metres is too tall for the neighbourhood, arguing that the current by-law permits a maximum height of 14 metres.

What this argument fails to mention, however, is that as-of-right zoning across Toronto is wildly outdated, and there is nothing out of the ordinary about the proposal ask.

The vast majority of new development proposals in Toronto seek large increases in zoning, and no city planner with a rationally functioning mind would buy the argument that height allotments set during the Cold War apply to the modern metropolis Toronto has become in the decades since.

"Area residents and businesses are concerned about the visual and physical size, scale design, and lengthy construction of the proposed development and the resulting impact on the safety and quality of life of pedestrians, patrons and residents in the surrounding area," reads the petition.

"We, the undersigned members of the community want to express our strong opposition to a large building development project in our neighbourhood," continues the ask, adding that "the proposal is misleading, contains multiple errors and fails to comply with By-law and building performance standards."

In a true shot of irony, the petition states that "residents are disappointed that amid an affordable housing crisis, this proposal does not designate any units as affordable rent geared to income," while simultaneously arguing against density in any form.

The very next line mentions "concerns about the impact on traffic congestion and already limited street parking in the immediate and surrounding vicinity," which offers a window into the car-centric lifestyles of residents behind the petition in a neighbourhood known primarily as a haven for cyclists.

Globe and Mail architecture critic Alex Bozikovic absolutely eviscerated the petition, tweeting a rebuke of privileged Cabbagetown residents fighting to stop housing from being built.

Bozikovic says segregation along class lines is a serious issue in Toronto, but suggests that these neighbourhood battles over increased density are a product of City policies.

Several comments slam area residents for what is being characterized as an anti-housing stance.

Former mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa tried to flex his urban planner clout and advocate to argue for the addition of four-to-six storeys on main streets, seemingly oblivious to the implication that it would result in wholesale demolition.

Even comments posted on the change.org petition itself are critical, calling out the neighbourhood residents as "entitled adequately housed individuals [...] politicking against a small condo development that is probably only viable on the margins so that you can keep your enclave rich and exclusive in the name of 'neighbourhood character'."

Locals have pitched their own counterproposal, calling for a project that makes absolutely no financial sense but is more accommodating to the extreme sensitivities of owners residing in the multimillion-dollar homes that populate the neighbourhood.

They call for "low-rise housing that is compliant with current height bylaws, setbacks, privacy and heritage significance," among other requests like a "plan to address issues related to traffic flow, safety, congestion, public transit, street parking, noise, privacy and access to light for those residents and businesses."

Lead photo by

RAW Design


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