toronto parkdale

Toronto neighbourhood trying to stop development due to environmental concerns

One Toronto neighbourhood is raising concerns regarding a new mixed-use rental building, citing "environmental hazards" as well as the imperative need for affordable housing in the community. 

Currently in its site-prep phase, 1375 Queen West is a planned eight-storey building designed by Giannone Petricone Associates for Skale Developments on the southeast corner of Queen Street West and Close Avenue in Parkdale.

In an April letter to Councillor Gord Perks (Ward 4 Parkdale–High Park), Parkdale's People Economy raised concerns regarding the "ongoing environment hazards emanating from the construction site." 

The group is composed of a network of over 30 community-based organizations and hundreds of community members working to build decent work, shared wealth, and equitable development in Parkdale. 

"Residents in the vicinity have reported heavy oil and gas fumes stemming from the site, raising serious health and safety issues for the community. As residents contacted City Planner Patrick Miller, we learned that he was unaware of any digging activities occurring at the location," the letter reads. 

The group notes that the site also holds historical significance as a former Imperial Oil gas station and has since been designated as a brownfield site

According to the provincial government's website, these are vacant or underutilized sites where past industrial or commercial activities may have left contamination behind, including factories, gas stations, and waterfront properties formerly used for industrial or commercial activities. 

"Brownfields can pose health and safety risks, be costly for the communities where they are located, or be redeveloped to meet health, safety and environmental standards," the province says. 

"Two years ago, the Justice for Queen and Close coalition rightfully demanded environmental remediation due to its hazardous nature. However, to date, there has been no tangible action taken to address this critical demand," the letter continues. 

The coalition's website also alleges that Skale Developments, a luxury boutique condo developer, is pressing ahead with the 50-unit residence "after a slew of broken promises to a neighbourhood desperate for affordable housing." 

The coalition accuses the developer of making five distinct promises during the approval process to include affordable housing units, only to "abandon" them "as soon as they had won" approval. 

"In 2016, Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT) attempted to purchase this lot in order to bring it into community ownership and provide a range of affordable housing and other community benefits," the website reads. 

"Imperial Oil would only sell to parties who had the fiscal capacity to uphold legal responsibility for contamination that may exist on the site. Opportunities for community ownership and governance were lost when PNLT could not find political or financial support to pursue the opportunity." 

Aside from the need for affordable housing in the area, Parkdale's People Economy alleges that an environment report commissioned by the developer reveals the "presence of carcinogenic compounds in the soil" on the site. 

"This information has not been disclosed to the public, putting our community members at grave risk of exposure to harmful substances," the letter to Councillor Perks continues. 

"It is imperative that the substances being released into the air are identified promptly, and stringent measures are enforced to ensure the safety of our community." 

blogTO reached out to Skale Developments but did not receive a response back in time for this article's publication.

Lead photo by

Skale Developments 

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