Leaside community groups withdraw opposition to Smart Centres development

News Apr 10, 2013 by LISA QUEEN East York Mirror

After a year of protest, a controversial big box retail development has been approved for Leaside after a surprise last-minute settlement was hammered out between the developer and community groups.

Smart Centres and community groups Leaside Property Owners’ Association and Leaside Unite came to an agreement about midnight on Tuesday, just hours before the development at 70 and 80 Wicksteed Ave., 202, 204 and 206 Parkhurst Blvd. and 99 Vanderhoof Ave. southeast of Eglinton Avenue and Laird Drive was approved at the April 9 meeting of North York community council.

The development must still be approved by city council.

Despite widespread neighbourhood concern about the development, the settlement does not make any significant changes to the project, Carol Burtin-Fripp, second vice-president of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association, acknowledged.

The 15,669-square-mere (147,000-square-foot) retail complex on the 6.6-acre site will be anchored by an unknown 7,308-square-metre (83,000-square-foot), two-storey retail store.

Instead, the settlement provides for improved community protections on issues such as traffic, landscaping, lighting and for nearby local shopkeepers, Burtin-Fripp said.

“We feel this is a good settlement,” she said, adding the community groups were withdrawing their opposition to the complex.

The community would not have won the protections if it had not rallied together to voice its concerns, including attending a standing room-only meeting last June at Leaside Memorial Gardens, Burtin-Fripp told The Mirror moments after councillors approved the development.

The association will be sharing details of the settlement with residents in coming days, she added.

Roslyn Houser, a lawyer representing the developer, acknowledged the retail complex “has been a very high profile matter” subjected to much scrutiny in the community, adding she is very pleased the two sides were able to reach a settlement.

From the outset, Smart Centres has been committed to achieving design excellence, Houser said.

“We are very confident this project will make a positive contribution to Leaside,” she said.

Houser would not disclose details of the agreement when asked by The Mirror after the vote.

But not everyone is pleased with the development.

Former East York mayor and Don Valley East MP, Alan Redway, is upset the retail complex is another example of Leaside’s proud industrial past being lost to commercial development.

“While the (community) associations have agreed to a settlement, I haven’t,” he said.

If councillors wish to see the community’s remaining industry leave and take jobs and taxes with it, the best way to achieve that goal is to approve more retail and residential development on industrial lands, Redway said.

But while Don Valley West Councillor John Parker said he would also like to preserve Leaside’s industrial past, he criticized Redway’s “just say no” approach, saying the former Borough of East York opened the door to big box development on industrial lands two decades ago.

“It (the Smart Centres complex) is a difficult one for my community, it’s a difficult one for me. We would all be happier if we could turn back the clock,” Parker said.

But while Parker said he has no enthusiasm for more retail, he praised the Smart Centres development as one that will be committed to design excellence with a focus on being pedestrian friendly.

“The community has been intensely involved (in negotiating elements of the complex) every step of the way,” he added.

Leaside community groups withdraw opposition to Smart Centres development

Community council approves big box development plan on Wicksteed Avenue

News Apr 10, 2013 by LISA QUEEN East York Mirror

After a year of protest, a controversial big box retail development has been approved for Leaside after a surprise last-minute settlement was hammered out between the developer and community groups.

Smart Centres and community groups Leaside Property Owners’ Association and Leaside Unite came to an agreement about midnight on Tuesday, just hours before the development at 70 and 80 Wicksteed Ave., 202, 204 and 206 Parkhurst Blvd. and 99 Vanderhoof Ave. southeast of Eglinton Avenue and Laird Drive was approved at the April 9 meeting of North York community council.

The development must still be approved by city council.

Despite widespread neighbourhood concern about the development, the settlement does not make any significant changes to the project, Carol Burtin-Fripp, second vice-president of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association, acknowledged.

The 15,669-square-mere (147,000-square-foot) retail complex on the 6.6-acre site will be anchored by an unknown 7,308-square-metre (83,000-square-foot), two-storey retail store.

Instead, the settlement provides for improved community protections on issues such as traffic, landscaping, lighting and for nearby local shopkeepers, Burtin-Fripp said.

“We feel this is a good settlement,” she said, adding the community groups were withdrawing their opposition to the complex.

The community would not have won the protections if it had not rallied together to voice its concerns, including attending a standing room-only meeting last June at Leaside Memorial Gardens, Burtin-Fripp told The Mirror moments after councillors approved the development.

The association will be sharing details of the settlement with residents in coming days, she added.

Roslyn Houser, a lawyer representing the developer, acknowledged the retail complex “has been a very high profile matter” subjected to much scrutiny in the community, adding she is very pleased the two sides were able to reach a settlement.

From the outset, Smart Centres has been committed to achieving design excellence, Houser said.

“We are very confident this project will make a positive contribution to Leaside,” she said.

Houser would not disclose details of the agreement when asked by The Mirror after the vote.

But not everyone is pleased with the development.

Former East York mayor and Don Valley East MP, Alan Redway, is upset the retail complex is another example of Leaside’s proud industrial past being lost to commercial development.

“While the (community) associations have agreed to a settlement, I haven’t,” he said.

If councillors wish to see the community’s remaining industry leave and take jobs and taxes with it, the best way to achieve that goal is to approve more retail and residential development on industrial lands, Redway said.

But while Don Valley West Councillor John Parker said he would also like to preserve Leaside’s industrial past, he criticized Redway’s “just say no” approach, saying the former Borough of East York opened the door to big box development on industrial lands two decades ago.

“It (the Smart Centres complex) is a difficult one for my community, it’s a difficult one for me. We would all be happier if we could turn back the clock,” Parker said.

But while Parker said he has no enthusiasm for more retail, he praised the Smart Centres development as one that will be committed to design excellence with a focus on being pedestrian friendly.

“The community has been intensely involved (in negotiating elements of the complex) every step of the way,” he added.

Leaside community groups withdraw opposition to Smart Centres development

Community council approves big box development plan on Wicksteed Avenue

News Apr 10, 2013 by LISA QUEEN East York Mirror

After a year of protest, a controversial big box retail development has been approved for Leaside after a surprise last-minute settlement was hammered out between the developer and community groups.

Smart Centres and community groups Leaside Property Owners’ Association and Leaside Unite came to an agreement about midnight on Tuesday, just hours before the development at 70 and 80 Wicksteed Ave., 202, 204 and 206 Parkhurst Blvd. and 99 Vanderhoof Ave. southeast of Eglinton Avenue and Laird Drive was approved at the April 9 meeting of North York community council.

The development must still be approved by city council.

Despite widespread neighbourhood concern about the development, the settlement does not make any significant changes to the project, Carol Burtin-Fripp, second vice-president of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association, acknowledged.

The 15,669-square-mere (147,000-square-foot) retail complex on the 6.6-acre site will be anchored by an unknown 7,308-square-metre (83,000-square-foot), two-storey retail store.

Instead, the settlement provides for improved community protections on issues such as traffic, landscaping, lighting and for nearby local shopkeepers, Burtin-Fripp said.

“We feel this is a good settlement,” she said, adding the community groups were withdrawing their opposition to the complex.

The community would not have won the protections if it had not rallied together to voice its concerns, including attending a standing room-only meeting last June at Leaside Memorial Gardens, Burtin-Fripp told The Mirror moments after councillors approved the development.

The association will be sharing details of the settlement with residents in coming days, she added.

Roslyn Houser, a lawyer representing the developer, acknowledged the retail complex “has been a very high profile matter” subjected to much scrutiny in the community, adding she is very pleased the two sides were able to reach a settlement.

From the outset, Smart Centres has been committed to achieving design excellence, Houser said.

“We are very confident this project will make a positive contribution to Leaside,” she said.

Houser would not disclose details of the agreement when asked by The Mirror after the vote.

But not everyone is pleased with the development.

Former East York mayor and Don Valley East MP, Alan Redway, is upset the retail complex is another example of Leaside’s proud industrial past being lost to commercial development.

“While the (community) associations have agreed to a settlement, I haven’t,” he said.

If councillors wish to see the community’s remaining industry leave and take jobs and taxes with it, the best way to achieve that goal is to approve more retail and residential development on industrial lands, Redway said.

But while Don Valley West Councillor John Parker said he would also like to preserve Leaside’s industrial past, he criticized Redway’s “just say no” approach, saying the former Borough of East York opened the door to big box development on industrial lands two decades ago.

“It (the Smart Centres complex) is a difficult one for my community, it’s a difficult one for me. We would all be happier if we could turn back the clock,” Parker said.

But while Parker said he has no enthusiasm for more retail, he praised the Smart Centres development as one that will be committed to design excellence with a focus on being pedestrian friendly.

“The community has been intensely involved (in negotiating elements of the complex) every step of the way,” he added.