Community presented with developments to transform East Danforth

Massive developments are about to transform East Danforth, bringing multiple highrises and thousands of additional residents to a two-block stretch in the east end.

That could be the takeaway from yesterday’s public consultation on three developments, including eight residential towers ranging from 15 to 55 storeys, proposed for the area on the south side of Danforth Avenue between Main Street and Dawes Road.

The two-hour online meeting saw three sets of developers and architects present their plans for the new buildings to be inserted into the area.

The area already features the four Main Square apartment buildings at Main and Danforth, and it has at least eight other towers — already approved — on the way. And still a couple more are in earlier stages of application.

The latest proposals presented at the meeting include:

  • Five new buildings ranging from 15 to 55 storeys to be added to the existing Main Square complex at 2575 Danforth Ave., with more than 1,500 rental and condominium units.
  • Two towers of 33 and 44 storeys where the current Canadian Tire store stands at 2681 Danforth Ave. with more than 900 residential units.
  • A 38-storey mixed-use building at 8 Dawes Rd. with 399 units.
Danforth-Main-Dawes developments
FUTURE DANFORTH: One developer’s summary of developments in the Danforth-Main-Dawes block as presented at community  consultation. The grey buildings currently exist, the blue building is under construction, the green buildings have been approved but are not yet being built, and the red buildings are currently being proposed. (Excerpt of illustration presented by Marlin Spring)

Little time was left for the more than 100 participants in the virtual “consultation” to ask questions or raise objections to the plans. Most resorted to typing questions into the chat section during the meeting and only two people got to make comments in person after the developer presentations.

City planner George Pantazis, who ran the meeting, said the Main-Danforth intersection was a  prime area for development because it is close to both the Main subway station and the Danforth GO station.

“We’re making sure we are growing around major transit station areas,” he said.

He also said development in this location was in line with provincial and municipal government’s strategies for increasing density in Toronto.

“We want to unlock the potential of intensification,” Pantazis said.

Complete communities sought

Beaches-East York councillor Brad Bradford phoned into the meeting to say that for him the important issue in creating “7,500 new homes for the area” was to ensure they were affordable housing.

It is unclear how many of the new residential units are going to be rentals and how many will be condominiums, as the city is still negotiating this with developers.

“We have to make sure we’re building complete communities,” Bradford also said.

“Complete communities” are defined by the city as places where homes, jobs, schools and other facilities and resources are easily accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

One participant in the virtual meeting submitted a question asking why the developments did not follow the model of the Honest Ed’s redevelopment, which fit into the local neighbourhood with a mix of low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise buildings, and with community-friendly streets and open spaces.

Pantazis replied the planning environment has changed since the Honest Ed’s project. The province is  mandating now that intensification efforts move more quickly, he said.

8 Dawes Road ground level
FRONTAGE: The property at 8 Dawes Road is shown in artist’s rendering. (Marlin Spring)

Other questioners wondered how local schools could accommodate the influx of many more students from the new residential complexes and asked if schools could be built or expanded in time.

School building would unlikely be authorized by the Ontario government before more residents actually moved into the area, Pantazis replied. The province’s attitude attitude was “you need the people first, before you get the schools,” he said.

Madison Leisk, senior policy adviser to Bradford, agreed this is a problem.

“The way we fund public schools doesn’t work, especially in Toronto,” Leisk said.

Questions were also raised over potential traffic congestion in the area, access to the GO station from the apartment complexes, and the possible loss of the recreation centre in Market Square after the old one is torn down and before the new one is built.