Yonge and Eglinton residents expressed frustration at a meeting at the Orchard View Library on June 23 to discuss a proposed 34-storey condominium at 85–91 Broadway Ave. and 198 Redpath Ave.
More than three dozen area residents gathered to hear representatives from the city and developer Pemberton Group, but at the end resident Zlatko Gradascevic summed up their reaction by saying, “I don’t believe for one minute the developer is here to hear our opinion. Their target is the OMB. That’s where they get what they want.”
He was referring to the fact that last year, the Ontario Municipal Board approved two buildings by the same developer next door to the current proposed site.
In June 2014, the OMB approved Pemberton’s application to build 34-storey towers at 197 Redpath Ave. and at 95–99 Broadway Ave., which had been vigourously opposed by residents and city staff. The current application was submitted in January.
With 99 Broadway, “the community was loud and clear in rejecting the proposal. The city was loud and clear,” said Gradascevic. “And by the way, that’s the same developer we’re talking about now. What happened? The Ontario Municipal Board approved (it).”
Representing Pemberton, planner Anne McIlroy and architect Berardo Graziani said the developer thought the proposed height was justified by the location’s proximity to Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue East — 385 metres from the former and 300 metres from the latter — and the Crosstown LRT now under construction.
“We know that when we talk about a 34-storey building, you’re concerned about that, and I’m not going to pussyfoot around it or pretend that’s not an issue for you,” McIlroy told the crowd.
She called the location “a tall building site,” citing a proposed 38-storey condominium tower one block south at 140–144 Redpath Ave. and 151–173 Roehampton Ave. (which, according to the city of Toronto website, is still under review, though a 34-storey tower next door has been approved) and buildings ranging from eight to more than 20 storeys nearby. McIlroy also emphasized Pemberton’s compliance with the city’s Midtown in Focus guidelines, promising seven-metre setbacks, minimal shadows and concern for neighbours’ privacy.
However, most residents appeared to disagree with McIlroy’s assertion that Broadway and Redpath represented a tall building site.
“The buildings to the west, on Broadway, are approximately eight to 10 storeys high,” resident Dean Rogers said. “The buildings to the south … one is seven storeys, at 170 Roehampton. Is that 34? Is that anywhere near 34?”
To applause, he said, “I can tell you no one in this room, other than the developer and his high-priced lawyer is in favour of this.”
Joanne Leznoff, who had served as a crossing guard in the area, warned the development would make the intersection’s already-dangerous traffic even worse.
“You’re risking your life as soon as you walk out there,” she said after the meeting. “It’s a danger to pedestrians, it’s a danger to other cars, it’s a danger to children. And if they keep building all these condos in this area, especially at that block, there are going to be more accidents.”
City planner Giulio Cescato assured residents them their opinions did matter.
“It’s natural to have cynicism, and I respect that,” he said afterward. “But I can tell you almost no development application recommended for approval by city planning staff goes out the way it came in, and a lot of times real concrete suggestions from the public make their way into real changes in a project.”
Cescato declined to give his own opinion of the proposal, saying city staff would produce a report at a later date and the application might be revised before then.
“It can be hard for some people to see all of the changes, and maybe those changes don’t go far enough for some people, and I respect that,” he said. “But I don’t believe in under any circumstances that we don’t listen to the public or that the public can’t give input into the process.”
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