Three towers proposed to replace four low-rise rentals in Flemingdon Park

A developer has applied for a zoning amendment to let them build three towers to replace four low-rise rental buildings in Flemingdon Park but some of the current residents are not happy with the process so far.

Damis Properties aims to tear down its existing buildings at 7–11 Rochefort Dr., across Don Mills Road from the Ontario Science Centre parking lot.

The existing four-story buildings comprise 128 two-bedroom, rental apartments.

The three towers of the proposal are 30, 41 and 46 storeys with a total of 1,322 apartments, which will include both rental and condominium units, including 128 units replacing the apartments being torn down.

Satellite view of Rochefort buildings
WAY DOWN THERE: Satellite view shows the four low-rise buildings on Rochefort Drive to be torn down in developer’s plan.

The buildings would also feature 106 affordable units with indoor and outdoor space, according to the company’s application.

The developers and the city are awaiting finalization of plans to begin consultation with local residents in the new year.

However, some residents who have been notified are finding the virtual consultation process is flawed.

“Our consultation letter was given through a hard copy in the mail, saying we could express our concerns through a Zoom meeting,” said Sheldon Francis, a resident for more than four decades. “My mom is 70 years old and finds difficulty using [Zoom]. Although I could help her use it, think of the many elderly residents who can’t convey the critical questions to those developers in the decision-making process.”

Also the opportunity to move back into replacement units may pose problems, Francis said

“When you move to a new area, you’re already accustomed and comfortable to settling in there, so why would people want to have the hassle of moving back, only to be given the trade-off of less living space or higher rents or both?”

Other residents of the community as a whole seem unaware of the proposed development — including the area’s MP.

Don Valley East MP Michael Coteau, who grew up at 7 Rochefort Dr., found out about it when Streeter asked him for a comment.

Developments must “done in a respectful, meaningful, community-driven process which we’re not getting,” Coteau said.

“There is no leadership, community-wise — that is coming from the municipal side,” he said. “[Councillor] Denzil Minnan-Wong needs to engage the community, needs to share the larger plan with the entire corridor and talk about what the impacts are going to be and let people know what’s going on.”

The transformation of Flemingdon

Denzil Minnan-Wong has not yet responded to Streeter’s queries about the project.

The building plan on Rochefort comes amid intensification near the Don Mills and Eglinton Avenue East intersection, where the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is concurrently being built. Some say Flemingdon Park is to be transformed as a result.

“If we’re headed in this direction, 10 to 15 years from now, we won’t be able to recognize this community,” Coteau said.

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While some residents take in the coming change to their living situation, open dialogue about the wider changes to Flemingdon Park has yet to take place.

President Stephen Ksiazek of Don Mills Residents Incorporated, who has clashed with Minnan-Wong on other aspects of the Don Mills corridor development, says this development, like others, shows politicians and developers “are in bed with each other.”

ACORN did an analysis of each councillor in the 2018 election, and found that out of Denzil Minnan-Wong’s campaign donations, 32 per cent came from developers.

At least nine other members of city council, including Mayor John Tory, had greater campaign donations from developers in the 2018 municipal election, according to the report.