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Dec 14, 2012  |  Vote 0    0

Secondary Plan to cap building heights

Etobicoke Guardian

A document to guide growth and change in historic Mimico-By-The-Lake over the next 20 years will come before community and Toronto councils next spring.

City planners presented the public with the emerging Mimico-By-The-Lake Secondary Plan of their recommendations last Thursday at an open house at the Mimico Adult Centre.

Earlier, an open house in November had gathered public feedback on the work of Mimico 20/20 consultants’ Urban Strategies. That feedback then informed city planners’ emerging Secondary Plan. A Secondary Plan is part of Toronto’s Official Plan that establishes more detailed local development policies to guide growth and change within a specific area.

There are 32 Secondary Plans across the city.

The Mimico-By-The-Lake Secondary Plan will distill hundreds of pages of documents from city-hired consultants’ Urban Strategies Inc., city planning research and documents, as well as public feedback into a concise 20-page document, explained Matthew Premru, the city planner who will author the secondary plan.

Among planners’ recommendations in the emerging secondary plan is that heights of any future buildings be restricted into three bands of development:

• Tall buildings be contained to an area between Lake Shore Boulevard and the lake, to a maximum height of 25 storeys, with a two to four storey podium and minimum tower separation distance of 25 metres between buildings;

• Avenues mid-rise buildings along the Lake Shore Boulevard West main street to a maximum of eight storeys;

• Lake front tall buildings to a maximum height of 15 storeys, with the same podium height and separation distance as tall buildings.

City planners heard from residents at earlier meetings a desire for redevelopment, including the potential for condominiums, not reach the heights of those to the east in the Humber Bay Shores’ community where the Eau du Soleil condominiums to replace the recently demolished The Beach Motel are proposed to be 44 and 66 storeys.

“We don’t want tall buildings to override the main street and take away from the pedestrian experience or the main street,” Premru, lead planner on Mimico 20/20 and Mimico-By-The-Lake Secondary Plan author said Wednesday in an interview in his Etobicoke planning department office. “We don’t want to override the lake and public parks or the village heart.”

However, while the building height restrictions may be amenable to many residents, the development industry has given the height restrictions a thumbs down.

“The development industry has said the heights we’re recommending as not an incentive to redevelop,” Premru said of lands currently occupied by apartment buildings. “The public is concerned about height and density. Our role is in the middle to achieve a reasonable balance and at the end of the day make recommendations for appropriate development standards.”

Urban Strategies Inc. identified Superior Avenue as the village heart of Mimico-By-The-Lake. After residents told city planners the village heart should be extended to include Mimico Avenue, Superior Avenue and Amos Waites Park, that change has been made in the emerging secondary plan, Premru said.

Mimico 20/20 is a revitalization project launched in 2007 to develop a comprehensive planning framework to inform future development in the lakefront community.

The study area stretches from just east of Miles Road to Fleeceline Road, mostly south of Lake Shore. The Mimico-By-The-Lake Secondary Plan will be structured to follow the Mimico 20/20 revitalization process’ main priority areas established during public charettes: housing policy, energy policy, transportation, heritage, parks, community services, built form, urban design and infrastructure.

Premru and senior city planner Kathryn Thom addressed ongoing community concerns that affordable housing be protected in the community by a 1:1 replacement policy embedded in the city’s Official Plan.

One-to-one rental replacement will be upheld, but the details of how it will be implemented has yet to be determined in the final secondary plan report, Premru and Thom said. The 20-plus to 40-storey heights of Longo Developments’ six, now reduced to five, proposed condominiums, and the future of tenants in 396 existing onsite rental apartments on Amadeo Court under a 1:1 city rental replacement policy, has stirred concern among some in Mimico since Longo filed its development application in April 2011.

Built in the 1950s, the buildings have a disproportionately high number of bachelor apartments, which may not meet current market demands for rental accommodations for families.

In September, Longo principals told residents at a meeting they planned to file an amended Official Plan application and a rezoning application to city planners by early October. Premru confirmed this week planners have yet to receive those applications. “Longo has 396 (apartment) units,” Premru said.

“If half of those units were to be somewhere else within the (secondary plan) area, we would still interpret that as being acceptable. Then there’s the mix of units (bachelor, one, two, three bedrooms). We could look at flexibility as to how we do that. Right now, there’s a disproportionate number of bachelors. We could replace what’s there either on square footage or gross bedroom size. We’re still working on flexibility in that measurement in the emerging policy framework.”

Planners also heard from residents that Mimico Linear Park is too narrow. In future, any lakefront redevelopment will require a developer to provide a strip of lakefront property for park purposes, Premru said. Residents’ feedback they didn’t want to see inner roads allow the western portion of the study area has also been upheld, Premru said.

Premru stressed future Mimico-By-The-Lake’s revitalization can’t come only from redevelopment.

“The (secondary) plan can’t rely on redevelopment because it may not be every owner’s objective,” he said of existing apartment building owners. “We need to provide a range of options for revitalization to take place, including redevelopment, infill development and renewal through the city’s Tower Renewal project to improve existing facilities, make them more modern, more efficient, improve the aesthetics. The plan cannot solely rely on redevelopment.”

Residents are encouraged to provide their feedback to the recent open house on the Mimico-By-The-Lake Secondary Plan by Dec. 17. Visit www.toronto.ca/planning/pdf/dec_6_2012_open_house_feedback_form.pdf to access the comment form online.

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