Locals wary of Skymark Plaza plans

Development called too dense for neighbourhood

Some North York residents are alarmed by a proposal to further develop Skymark Plaza with a mixed-use development that will include four new buildings and 1,044 residential units.

The recently formed Skymark Vicinity Neighbourhood Association opposes the plan for 3555 Don Mills Rd., said David George, co-chair of the group’s steering committee.

A commercial plaza sits at the site, surrounded by six residential highrises. The proposal would add four residential buildings with 918 condo units, 100 seniors rental units and 26 stacked townhouse condo units, as well as a stand-alone retail building with a grocery store and pharmacy.

The development would also add 1,540 parking spaces with a level of surface parking and two levels of underground parking. Building heights would be seven, 25, 28 and 34 storeys.

“It means an awful lot more people in that already densely populated area,” George said. “It’s a matter of density and parking and traffic.”

The proposal also has the potential to add to gridlock in all of North York, said David Slotnick, president of Willowdale Northeast Neighbourhood Association.

“Have you seen [Highway] 404 during rush hour?” he asked. “It’s backed up from 401 to Sheppard. You add 900 condos at Finch, it’ll be backed up past Finch up to Steeles.”

Slotnick noted gridlock in North York is not only bad on the main arterials, but also on side streets.

“If you put another 1,000 cars in that area, the overflow traffic is going to hit all the residential streets,” he said.

Ward 24 councillor David Shiner agrees with Slotnick. He says the entire proposal should be put on hold until an official transit plan for the area is done.

“The application is too intense for that site,’ he said. “I think there’s too much density being requested.”

He acknowledged that if the current proposal went through, it would take away from the vista for the current residents.

“This (initial) development was built in a circular manner around the plaza to give lots of opportunity for views and open spaces for all the people that live there,” he said. “Any type of development on the site should enhance the value of the properties, not detract from them.”

For Slotnick, the issue is not just one of property values, but also of how the area will deal with the influx of new residents.

“Skymark is an old area already. Many seniors live there already and North York General is crowded as hell,” he said. “Let’s say 500 [new residents] are elderly — where are they going to go if someone has a heart attack?”

George said he might be comfortable with a scaled-back development.

“While we wouldn’t like to see a big development next door, if there was something that was consistent with the community’s [character], that might be quite acceptable,” he said.

Shiner’s office said a community consultation meeting on the proposal will be held in the near future.

About this article:

By: Omar Mosleh
Posted: Jun 19 2012 6:31 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto