It was almost a Network moment. You really expected someone to shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” The venue for all this anger was the Fairmount Park Community Centre for a Community Consultation Meeting about a planning application for the site of the former Corpus Christi Separate School on Edgewood Avenue. About 50 community residents spent the evening of Jan. 26 trying to express their frustration over the amount of development construction that has taken place in their neighbourhood over the last few years.
It was quite an initiation for new Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon.
Leontine Major, Senior Planner, told the audience that when the Catholic School Board put the site up for sale, 30 to 40 different developers expressed interest in the location with a wide variety of plans – everything from townhouses and condos to a nursing home. Some of the proposals planned to reuse the school building, but the eventual purchaser, Urbancorp (Leslieville) Development Inc., intends to demolish the school and build 28 detached and semi-detached houses on the property.
Major said the original proposal submitted to the city called for the houses to front onto Edgewood and Hemlock Avenues as well as a newly created cul-de sac off Edgewood Avenue. After a review by city services, the cul-de-sac was deemed too small to accommodate city garbage trucks and snow plows, so the plan was revised to include a new public road connecting Edgewood to Hemlock.
Major pointed out that the proposed plan met all the criteria for neighbourhoods under the new Official Plan in terms of density, height, parking and setbacks. The architect, Presch Jane, pointed out that “this is as low density [development] as you will see in the city.”
However, some of the community members in the audience were having none of it.
“We have 79 new homes in a three block radius,” said one. Another said that the community was “stressed to the breaking point…it’s not a neighbourhood any more, it’s a single storey apartment building.”
Over the course of the meeting, people raised three issues of concern. The first was a general dissatisfaction that the community would be losing a major green space. A number of residents questioned why the city had not purchased the site for parkland. Major said that the city was given the opportunity to acquire the site, but passed. One audience member insisted that with the new regime at city hall, council should reconsider purchasing the property. The new owner quickly put a stop to any possibility.
The second issue involves the amount of disruption caused by all of the construction projects in the neighbourhood. Residents immediately adjacent to the school site wanted reassurances that any damage to their homes would be compensated.
And since this is the Beach, the third issue was parking. Everyone said that finding street parking in the immediate vicinity of the former school was very difficult. Major acknowledged that “Parking is bad everywhere in Ward 32. Every street has a problem.”
One group of residents objected to the integral garages and driveways planned for the houses on Edgewood, pointing out that there were none along the rest of the street. Another resident insisted that the city should pay for road cuts so that everyone could park in their front yards.
However, some residents did have suggestions to ameliorate some of the issues including having all of the houses face on to the new street eliminating the need for driveways on Edgewood.
Obviously the final details of the plan are still a work in progress, but the community will get another chance to have its say when the project comes up for a vote at a community council meeting later this spring.