A sweeping study looking at how to redefine Queen Street E. couldn’t come at a better time.
A visioning study to update planning guidelines for the strip from Neville Park to Coxwell Avenue comes on the heels of the latest battle over a contentious condo development.
In May, Toronto and East York Community Council approved a six-storey condominium proposal for the corner of Queen Street E. and Kenilworth Avenue, currently home to a Lick’s Restaurant.
The proposal faced opposition from the community for being too large and out of context with a mainstreet of mostly two-storey buildings.
Debate around the development keenly illustrated the outdated, conflicting rules that lead to narrow, site-by-site planning on Queen, says Jan Hykamp, president of the Greater Beach Neighbourhood Association.
“It’s a very ad hoc process right now,” Hykamp said.
In a letter on her website, Beaches-East York councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said she voted in favour of the Lick’s proposal, in part because resistance would have likely led to a “dubious legal battle” with the Ontario Municipal Board and she wasn’t willing to risk it.
Days before the study’s launch, McMahon told the Town Crier she too is frustrated with the development process for Queen, which is why she commissioned the visioning study in January. As part of the Lick’s decision, the rep has also asked the planning department to consider any future rezoning applications along Queen Street E. concurrent with the study.
“It’s got to be balanced with the Official Plan but everyone will have a vested interest in it. Everyone will have their voices heard and their desires known and then we won’t have to go through this crazy site-by-site development,” she said.
Like other streets designated “Avenues” in the province’s Official Plan, Queen Street E. is marked for intensification and growth is inevitable, McMahon said.
Hykamp, whose group is an umbrella organization of area ratepayer groups, said there’s a misconception that locals are anti-development.
“We are open-minded about what will come out of the study,” he said. “Our goal is obviously to make sure that the community can speak to what is appropriate development for the area in the Beach.”
He noted his group has a keen interest in addressing height, character, traffic concerns and how development will affect communities bordering on Queen.
“Our expectation is that the community would be involved at an early stage, including in things like helping set the terms of reference of the study,” he said.
Residents and interested stakeholders are invited to the visioning study’s launch, being held Saturday, June 16 from 1-4 p.m. at the Toronto Fire Academy at 895 Eastern Ave. An overview of the process, study parameters will be discussed.
Following the launch, McMahon said outreach to specific stakeholders will take place over the summer. A report on the visioning study is due in November.
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