‘Neighbourhood transition zones’ raise alarm

A midtown community group is accusing the city planning department of “acting like any other developer” for how it suggests rezoning areas along Eglinton Avenue to accommodate midrise developments as part of the streetscape plan connected to the Crosstown LRT.

Patrick Smyth, director of planning issues for the Avenue Road-Eglinton Community Association, says the plan to create neighbourhood transition areas, where homes within 30–39 metres of Eglinton could be demolished to have the required depth for a midrise development, will pave the way for developers to buy and demolish homes without giving adjacent homeowners the right to fight it.

Aside from homeowners not having grounds to fight the demolition of homes next door, the issue is the city not following “rules and regulations around official plan amendments and rezoning,” Smyth argued.

“They‘re not giving notice in the affected areas,” he said. “They’ve broadened it out to the entirety of (the Eglinton Crosstown strip).”

The rezoning will primarily affect the stretch of Eglinton Avenue West between Duplex Avenue and Keele Street. A laneway or a parking lot could also be put behind the midrise developments.

Local councillors Karen Stintz and Josh Matlow, however, say residents have nothing to worry about.

Stintz, Ward 16, said it is just a proposal at this point, and there are no homes in jeopardy in her area.

“This is a long-term planning vision to make sure that development that occurs along Eglinton over the next 30 years is midrise and appropriate,” she said, adding that the proposal is “just a guideline to help (development) applications with their built form.”

Matlow, whose ward runs along the south side of Eglinton Avenue West for much of the affected area, says residents in his area have no cause for alarm.

“We reviewed it with planning staff (and) they’re not recommending any parts of (Ward 22) for neighbourhood transition areas,” he said. “And they also made a commitment that they’re not going to be making any recommendations for areas where the local councillor is in opposition.”

Matlow said the case being made for the neighbourhood transition areas had to do with lots not being deep enough to support midrise developments, but after meeting with planning staff and reviewing neighbourhood plans, he doesn’t think the lots as they stand now are too small.

“I don’t see any evidence-based argument for why (a neighbourhood transition area) is necessary,” he said. “Developers have adequate lot size along Eglinton to build midrise buildings and there’s just no need to start taking over single-family homes adjacent to Eglinton.”

Smyth says ARECA wants to make sure residents in affected areas are notified, that public meetings be held in their neighbourhoods, and have an opportunity to voice their concerns or depute at those meetings.

“When you’re a community association, your whole raison d’etre is to be a protectorate of the community you purport to represent,” Smyth said. “This is about our members’ rights as property owners.”