A meeting was held at Bruce Public School on Larchmount Ave. on 2006.05.29 to discuss the findings of a city-cosponsored economic study of the South of Eastern region, that is, the area from Eastern Ave. to Lake Shore from the Don River to Coxwell (or Leslie, depending on which moment in the discussion you believe).

I attended in the sweltering heat – these meetings have got to stop taking place in a school gym without air conditioning – and took notes.

The most important part: Copies of the South of Eastern study were not given out. Whyever not?

The 6:30 meeting starts promptly at 6:45. Councillor Paula Fletcher introduces. There’s another meeting on June 14 for the adjoining ward, Ward 32, to discuss the same topic.

Last year there was a traffic study that looked at traffic calming, including on Eastern Ave. I know there are cyclists that are upset that a man died [at Leslie and Eastern]. There’s a meeting on traffic specifically on June 22, 7:00.

As part of this economic study, there was an application [by Toronto Film Studios, TFS] to rezone 19 acres of commercial land for mixed commercial/residential use.

Gary Wright from planning department next. Staff from planning, economic development, transportation are here. It’s taken a while for us to get this completed and done. TFS’s application is in the context of a larger employment district from the Don River to Coxwell. In August 2004, TFS applied to deviate from zoning for 629, 633, and 675 Eastern Ave. In December 2005, the applicant appealed application to the Ontario Municipal Board. (Man in audience asks if we’ll be getting information on any hearings; answer is yes.)

The application itself triggered a review of the area. It required us to look at the effect of that application and the potential effect on employment distribution. Also had regard to area south of Lake Shore. The councillor set up a community working group, and we had six meetings with the applicant. So that was quite a process. What came up? Eastern Ave. traffic; review previous community improvement plans; future of Foundry District [I am pretty sure he said this and not Studio District]; future of Canada Metal and its neighbour; waterfront.

The applicant had requested residential and commercial employment. The Official Plan recognized that the industrial base has left and been replaced. Communications, biotechnology [where?], design, film, fashion instead, some of them right here in this area. You have to be flexible. City predicts population growth of half a million in the next 30 years, hence so will jobs grow, too. Council encourages preservation of existing industrial and employment areas.

Permitting a non-industrial, non-employment use requires consulting with and considering a number of industries and business in surrounding lands and the environmental conditions. (Shows slide of new plan that has Don to maybe Leslie, Eastern to Lake Shore as an employment area.) New plan may be mere weeks away from enactment. Will do studies on streets like Queen, North York Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, Eglinton, all as growth areas. Don’t expect to see a lot of change with low-density residential areas.

The city and TEDCO are developing a long-term strategy to retain employment areas. Phase 1 findings:

  • City will need virtually all employment areas and there will be “pressure” on them.
  • Provincial government has policy statements about employment districts. We must have strong regard for those.

“We don’t believe that new residential uses should be approved for this area” and will pursue that. Want to look at new uses, including offices, research, technology. Deleting some uses, like auto-related, open storage. Are things like drive-through restaurants like Tim Horton’s appropriate for an employment areas?

June to September 2005: Economic development interviewed stakeholders. Will the relocate? Some retail users were supported, but others saw it [saw what?] as a conflict. Economic development talked to “key business stakeholders.” No significant landowners were planning to move in five years. Some lessees may move.

Why do business locate here? Proximity to downtown and other firms. Like the industrial/employment nature. Have access to labour, land. Affordable. Some industries like to cluster.

Fifteen business plan to expand within five years. Some would be harmed if employment designation changed. Worried about residential as it interferes with operations, like 24-hour work, trucks, noise, pollution.

Contextual study area: Don, Leslie, Eastern, Lake Shore. But what about south of Lake Shore? Total employment had peaked in 1989 (at about 14,000) and leveled at about 11,000 sine then.

North of Lake Shore, 8,500 jobs in 1985, 13,000 in 2005. South of Lake Shore, 10,000 and 9,000. Office jobs [in which area and when?]: 4,200 or 39%; manufacturing: 3,560; retail: “a small number.”

Employment stability is due to large employers, with more than half of available jobs. It’s a stable area.

Retail: Big stores are not allowed in employment areas in central waterfront under the new plan. But they are allowed in employment areas fronting onto major streets, including Eastern and Lake Shore, but only after study and review. But do we want that kind of retail here?

Community Improvement Plans: For Ward 30, greening of Lake Shore, bike path and trail, bike bridge across the Don, Logan trail barrier, remnant pedestals along Gardiner, improvements to Leslie and Eastern. Funding expired before landscaping on Booth could be done. There were ideas for Eastern that just never came to fruition.

For Ward 32, Maple Cottage was completed, trees on Leslie [where?], remade the traffic channel at Leslie and Eastern, trees and sidewalks on Woodfield and on Eastern.

Still to do? (Slide shows Provigo store and the words “Pedestrian-scale built form.”) Different uses that have better relationship to street. Structured parking, public edges, parkettes, community walkways, reuse of old structures, small office buildings, office condos [sic ], biotechnology and technology campuses.

Vincent Supe [name not spelled and uttered only once; write these names down on the agenda, people], traffic department, up next. Knows us from Gardiner demolition. Shows slide with “traffic controls” on Queen, Lake Shore, Leslie, Morse.

In June 2005 there was a meeting here to discuss traffic infiltration, speeds, Eastern Ave., pedestrians at Leslie, Community Improvement Plan. Assessed turn prohibitions; did speed and volume studies. Installed School Zone signs, changed signal timings at Leslie and Eastern. Looking at LED lights [they’re already there and do nothing for pedestrians, and are simply too bright], countdown pedestrian displays.

Currently, traffic calming for Winnifred, Caroline, Berkshire is being surveyed. Motion for bike lanes on Eastern between Carlaw and Leslie is before Toronto and East York Community Council (TEYCC). Assess the impacts.

Wright: We intend to report to TEYCC in July 2005. Introduces Don Eastwood, general manager, economic development, culture and tourism; Kyle Benham, director, development and retention at economic development.


  1. Q. from man. Bike lane? Which side of Eastern?

    A. from Supe: Develop, design, then determine impacts to traffic, parking.

  2. Q. from man: Bike lane: Great idea if you can do it, though I don’t know you can do it in rush hour. Need a lane on Carlaw, which scares me on my way to work.

  3. Q. from man: No residential for the [Foundry] District? They [TFS] have no intention of that at all?

    A. from Wright: I can’t speak for them.

    — Why not agree with the idea? Lofts, townhouses, lakefront housing – it could look like “Liberty West.”

    — I’m familiar with Liberty Village. Provincial policy as of March 2005 dictates where residential needs to be. In 2005, 20,000 residential units were approved. We don’t have a lack of land where residential can be placed or to meet our housing targets. Residential tends to drive out other employment uses and, over time, you don’t have an employment area anymore.

    BENHAM: Carlaw had retooled itself well [as a new kind of employment area]. As residential came along, the impact was that it drove out the jobs. Land prices increase and small business cannot afford it. Eventually you have to draw a line in the sand and say the core employment areas in the city are where we want a half million jobs to occur. It’s a hammer in some ways and doesn’t have a lot of subtlety to it.

  4. Q. from man: Big-box stores are seen as quite possible – Gerrard Square, Loblaws, Price Chopper have harmed small businesses on Queen. A study eight years ago on the impact of a Price Club here warned of huge parking problems. I [believe] it would be a really awful scenario – look at Laird and Eglinton. Does economic development think that is a suitable use?

    A. from Benham: We get accused of loving any job, but not all jobs are created equally. Value-added jobs – information technology, film production, graphic design, photography. Big-box jobs are lower-level, take up more space. Need incentives for new industrial/commercial development. Retail big boxes would not be eligible. Skew market to type of industrial we’d like to see.

    — For example? Seems like it’s gonna happen here and we don’t have the tools to prevent it.

    WRIGHT: Tools include planning. In other employment areas, many streets are far apart and the areas quite bit. We don’t think that big-box is suitable for this area. There’s still room for those and lots of land to accommodate them, but to take new sites east or west [of here] I think is quite problematic. Any application would require a variance from the zoning bylaw.

  5. Q. from a very, very special man in the audience who had a comment on everything and voiced apparently every one of them: Which side of Eastern for the bike lane? Why not just rip up the asphalt and let’s have a mountain-bike land. If you’re coming in from Durham Region, how do you expect those people to get to work? When you let this chap develop 19 acres, that threatens the area I’ve worked at for nine years. I don’t care about the portlands. (Man is advised to keep this meeting focussed on the neighbourhood advertised.) Somebody at city hall decided to call this the Studio District, and I paid for those street signs with my tax dollars. Why are we even considering allowing a new name? (Gary Wright shoots him down with an answer I did not record.)

  6. Q. from man: Can council reject your recommendations?

    A. Yes. And anything council decides is appealable to the OMB.

    Q. from man: What is the position of the City on this application?

    A. They adopted our proposal.

  7. Q. from woman: Did Paula Fletcher support that too?

    A. Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

  8. Q. from Michael Rosenberg: Don’t want to see countdowns. That is like information pollution. It’s not good for the mental well-being of citizens to live in that kind of universe where something as simple as crossing the street becomes a case of information technology. The R&D angle should not be part of your strategy. I’d rather have residential. If you can keep this as an employment area for truly value-added jobs[, then sure]. What is value-added? Those jobs don’t necessarily pay that much either when you consider how much people need to spend on education just to get in there.

  9. Q. from woman: Were your employment numbers inclusive of TFS? (yes.) I work in payroll and I know there’s actually thousands that work there annually. When they leave, we lose those employment numbers. Keeping it operational for like another tire-burning factory or like a[n empty] lot – we want something other than that. Not enough public transit on Eastern. I don’t want to see a scrapyard, a garage. I’d prefer to see infill housing.

  10. Q. from Joe Lobko: Last year, people saw this as a possibility to fix traffic, environment, and turn it into a great opportunity. You’re gonna lead us straight in to big-box. The pattern’s clearly there. It’s out of your hands. OMB will decide. Another way is to encourage Kings-style buildings that are adaptable. The current planning tools work against those. Live/work zones don’t work with the taxes, property standards, bylaws.

    Simplistic to say if we let one little ounce of residential in, all the industrial is gonna go away. Nobody really wants all residential anyway. Applicant did a study saying mixed use would produce more and better jobs. I have not heard evidence of where you’re putting your energies – into true live/work? If you were a betting man at OMB, TFS lands within a couple of years are gonna be a big-box power centre.

    A. The comments are to be taken seriously, but that does not lead me to believe big-box is inevitable. Whoever appears from the planning department before OMB will have a lot of opinions about big-box –

    MAN: Not big-box. Preserve the employment lands.

    — We appear in defence of the position we’ve taken. I don’t view that as a foregone conclusion. I do not in my heart view that as a foregone conclusion.

    BENHAM: Taxation: New policy last year. Toronto is about twice the 905’s rate. [Boring continuation elided.] Will have an incentive package for East Bayfront, portlands. Did a pilot in South Etobicoke with tax incentives and have increased new development, none of them big-box.

  11. Q. from man: So you’re loading up on residential taxes.

    — There will be a gradual shift in that way. I think it’s $6 a year.

    — So all these people are gonna have their taxes raised so you can attract businesses.

  12. Q. from man: Any development around here is a good thing. You could bomb some of these areas and they’d look better. Prevent big-box how? There’s enormous intensity pressure. By using this hammer – no retail – are we damning ourselves to no development for 20 years?

    A. Employment areas are 8% to 10% of city land. Marketplace can’t dictate everything[; government must also provide direction].

    — If we go along with this, we’ll suck it up and go with this employment area, (no retail), which will impede development. But we’ll do that only if no big-box.

    — Come and express those views, especially at city council.

    — Can we change that script about big-box being permitted on major streets?

    — No.

  13. Q. from man: Any applications for new big-box around Canadian Tire?

    A. No.

  14. Q. from man: Congratulations to the planning department on this decision. It’s extremely important. So many jobs are lost to the 905, so w must maintain the official plan. Residential is all basically not compatible with industrial. Wasn’t there to be an advisory committee set up for suitable employment uses?

    A. from woman: This became that forum – this and the June 14 meeting and July TEYCC presentation.

  15. Q. from man: Canada Metal?

    SPECIAL MAN: Other studio landowners bought 721 Eastern. Today was the first day of movie shooting in there. They recoated the floors. If it’s good enough to run a studio there, then what is the predominant industry in this neighbourhood?

    BENHAM: Film and media:

    — Thank you very much. I rest my case.

    PAULA FLETCHER: They owe $4 million in back taxes [a number that increases ever time it’s mentioned]. The city will either be paid those taxes or will sell the property. That is truly a freeloader.

  16. Q. from man: What happens when Filmport gets built?

    SPECIAL MAN: You’ll be an old man.

  17. Q. from man: Do we really need double the studio space?

    A. Is there a demand? Yes. Is important to reclaim our title as the third-largest film production centre in North America.

    — If the studios are sitting empty, you cannot make businesses come down here unless you do a General Motors–style bailout and build things for them.

  18. Q. from woman: Is demand still there for a film industry at a 95¢ dollar?

    A. It’s more difficult to attract, but the specialized skills are here. [Woman adds that she wasn’t talking about that, only demand. Scribe left then, at 19:58.]

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.05.30 16:57. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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