City Council Accepts Mr. Christie's Settlement
Today, I am writing to share some important news on the potential future of our community. The owners of the former Mr. Christie's site recently submitted a settlement offer for their property at Park Lawn and Lake Shore. Previously, City Council decided to retain these lands as "Employment Areas". In order to avert a contested hearing at the Local Planning Appeal tribunal (formerly known as the OMB), the owner is prepared to settle with the City. The settlement is supported by city staff and was accepted today by City Council, and now must be approved by LPAT. The goals and key principles that the proposed settlement seeks to achieve are:
1. Better transit access to the area
The proposed settlement enables discussions with Metrolinx, TTC, City staff and the owner to further pursue new and improved transit connections into the area. This is in keeping with my November 2017 motion, which advised Metrolinx that a new Park Lawn GO Station is a priority for the City and for the community, and sought to identify potential contributions for a new station from private partners: https://bit.ly/2Au3Vki. Additionally, this is consistent with my motion to protect Humber Bay Shores by ensuring that any new residential development applications in this area do not proceed in the absence of planned soft and hard infrastructure required to support the new residential population: https://bit.ly/2LdGxfo. I have long said that the planning of this site must take a "transit-first" approach, which is what is set out here.
2. Over 3,500 jobs on the site
The proposed settlement will secure the space to accommodate over 3,500 jobs across the site, a majority of which will be for office type uses and others will include retail and other services. In 2011, the site had just over 400 jobs. By exponentially increasing the number of jobs on this site, we can provide opportunities for thousands of residents to work closer to home, and ensure that our community continues to be the best place to live, work, and play.
3. No residential until a detailed Secondary Plan is in place
The settlement proposes that no residential permission be granted until a major planning study is completed in consultation with the community. The outcomes of this study will be a detailed Secondary Plan that will outline where and how much residential (and other uses, including open spaces and new parks) will be developed on the site, over time.
4. Addressing existing traffic congestion
The settlement proposed that a detailed study of the existing traffic congestion will be required and understanding of what measures are required on the site to help divert traffic away from the Park Lawn and Lake Shore intersection. I have moved a motion to ensure that if the settlement is accepted, the City's Transportation Master Plan for the area is integrated with the Secondary Plan process.
5. Adding needed community services, including affordable housing
The settlement proposes that the identification of necessary community services that should be located on the site, including the need for affordable housing, daycares, and other uses be identified.
In 2013, City Council requested the Chief Planner and General Manager of Economic Development to host a series of working group meetings. The outcomes of this previous process are summarized here. To build on the work of the previous working group, I convened a new working group earlier this spring to help guide discussions on the needs of the community in relation to the future of this site. This working group consisted of a cross-section of community organizations, neighbourhood associations, and local stakeholders to help guide City Planning in assessing the needs of our community. I am confident that the feedback provided by these groups helped to reach the key principles outlined in this settlement, which will provide a strong foundation to secure necessary community resources and services that will be detailed later through the Secondary Plan process.
This proposed settlement fits with my motions identifying significant infrastructure needs that must be met before any new residential development occurs. The settlement has been accepted by City Council and must now be approved by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. Once accepted, we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but this is a very positive start to the process. There will be extensive community consultation throughout this process to help ensure that the needs of the community continue to be heard loud and clear.
This was a tough decision, but after conferring with City Legal and Planning staff, I believe that this is the best way forward given the recently announced changes to the planning process by the Provincial Government. When it comes to provincial tribunals, like the former OMB, this community has lost out on numerous occasions. The development along the west side of Park Lawn Road was never a part of the City's or my plans for the area; we fought against these developments and as we can see today, we lost that battle. I do not want to see our community lose out on the significant victories that the property owner has agreed to, and this proposed settlement provides us with a positive way forward where we can meet the needs of the current and future residents of this community.