Casa Loma Residents Association

Heritage Neighbourhood • Vibrant and Strong Community

Casa Loma Noise, Traffic/Parking and Construction issues

JoAnn Breitman and Councillor Joe Mihevc met on June 7th with representatives of Casa Loma, which is managed by Liberty Entertainment Group (LEG).  Among the issues discussed were noise, parking and traffic issues impacting our neighbourhood.

Noise

LEG has made improvements to their sound system by putting speakers in rocks so they are low to the ground, changing direction of the sound, and increasing the number of speakers so that individual speakers don’t have to be as loud and the sound is not transmitted as far. They have committed to keeping sound levels at 65 decibels or lower and ending their Symphony in the Gardens (Tuesdays June 5 – Aug 28), Soul in The City (Mondays June 18 – Aug 27) and Just For Laughs Comedy in the Castle (Wednesdays July 25 – Aug 29) events at 9:30 rather than at 10 pm as has been past practice. Weddings will no longer have live bands outside. There will be DJs outside but the sound system will have a “limiter” which cuts off music if it goes above 65 decibels. Weddings will go to midnight. The City has agreed to monitor this during the summer.

LEG has committed to keeping all of the screaming/ fright effects inside for this year’s Legends of Horror event which runs for the month of October.

Traffic and Parking

The Italian Day on June 3rd. highlighted the need for stricter parking enforcement and a traffic control plan. This especially impacted residents on Walmer Road and Castleview Avenue. Traffic congestion in front of the castle was also very severe as there are no warning signs, say on Spadina or Davenport, informing attendees that the lot is full. LEG will open the South Gate for access as a convenience for those parking in the George Brown lot or taking public transit and will use several mobile signs around site entry points north and south to discourage drivers from heading directly to the castle parking lot. This summer, Joe Mihevc will ask for stricter parking enforcement (ticket and tow) during events. Other measures will wait on the completion of a consultant’s study that LEG has commissioned for this summer and fall.

Construction and debris

The renovation of the exterior of Casa Loma is ongoing which leads to issues related to the construction staging and debris disposal, which are concentrated in the vicinity of the stables. Rod Jones, Director of Bylaw Enforcement has recently inspected the site and will report to us.

We have made good progress in our meetings with Liberty Entertainment Group over the past year and appreciate the changes they have and will be making in recognition that the castle is located in a residential neighbourhood.  Discussions on the above matters are ongoing and resident input and suggestions are welcome. Please email your thoughts and suggestions to .

Casa Loma Heritage Conservation District Study Update and Open House.

A Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Study for the Casa Loma neighbourhood was prioritized by the City of Toronto in March 2015. Research, analysis, evaluation and consultation is nearing completion. Ultimately it will be determined if an HCD designation will be an appropriate planning tool for our neighbourhood. The City Planning Division has scheduled a second Open House where you can learn about the HCD study, ask questions and share your comments:

Date: Wednesday, June 20th

Time: 5:30PM – 8:30PM

Format: Open House (drop-in at any time)

Location: St. Michael’s College School, Theatre Lobby, 1515 Bathurst Street

The City Planning Division retained a Project Team led by EVOQ Architecture with ASI Inc. (archaeology), Urban Strategies Inc. (planning) and DTAH (landscape architects) to prepare the HCD Study report. The Project Team presented their draft recommendations to the Casa Loma Community Advisory Group on May 10, 2018 and will be presenting it to the area residents at the Open House on June 20th.

Proposed HCD Boundaries

The Project Team has proposed that two streets in the Casa Loma study area be granted HCD designation: Hilton Avenue, and Wells Hill Avenue. These two streets retain a high degree of integrity as representative examples of early 20th century residential development in the city of Toronto.

Properties within the proposed Hilton Avenue and Wells Hill Avenue HCDs were individually evaluated to determine whether they contribute to the neighbourhood’s heritage value.

Contributing properties (shown in blue on the map) are those that have design, historic and/or associative value and that contribute to the neighbourhood’s heritage character. Properties were identified as contributing if they satisfied the following criteria:

  • Constructed during the proposed HCDs’ period of significance (1910-1929); and
  • maintained their integrity and have not been significantly altered as seen from the street

The Casa Loma Residents Association is reviewing the Project Team recommendation and is considering a submission that the whole neighbourhood should be included in the HCD designation.

Properties Identified for Further Research

Through the course of the built form and landscape survey, community consultation and historic research, the Project Team has identified a number of individual properties within the study area that warrant further research to determine whether they merit inclusion on the City’s Heritage Register.

These properties will be reviewed by Heritage Preservation Services against the Criteria for Determining Cultural Heritage Value or Interest (Ontario Regulation 9/06) in 2019. These properties are identified in green on the map.

 

 

It is important that residents attend the Open House on June 20th to learn more, question the Consultants on their recommendation, meet City staff and provide your input. Any comments you would like to make to the Casa Loma Residents Association should be emailed to .

The HCD Study report and an accompanying staff report will be presented to the Toronto Preservation Board on July 12th.

Provincial Election June 7th.

[updated May 2, 2018]

The Ontario Provincial Election is now less than 5 weeks away.  Intensive campaigning will soon begin.

The Casa Loma neighbourhood is in the riding of St. Paul’s.

The Casa Loma Residents Association encourages all its members to be active participants in the Association.  In the same vein, we also encourage you to actively participate in Federal, Provincial and Municipal elections.  By electing and working with our elected representatives we can successfully advance the interests of our neighbourhood.  The CLRA has successfully worked in the past with our city councillor, Joe Mihevc and our Provincial representative, Eric Hoskins as well as our Federal MP Carolyn Bennett regarding issues of interest to the CLRA.   A good example of this is the Maclean House at 7 Austin Terrace which would not have been saved without the strong support of Joe and Eric.  We will continue to build strong relationships with our elected representatives and other influential politicians.

The Progressive Conservative Party has nominated its candidate, Andrew Kirsch, born and raised in St. Paul’s riding and a former Intelligence Officer with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

The Green Party has nominated its candidate for St. Paul’s.  She is Teresa Pun who is a doctor practicing Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Internal Medicine in St. Paul’s riding and Richmond Hill.

The Liberal Party has nominated Jess Spindler as its candidate. Jess was Director of Legal Affairs and Party Services – ‎Liberal Party of Canada.

The New Democratic Party has nominated Jill Andrew as its candidate in St. Paul’s. Jill is a co founder of Body Confidence Canada.

The CLRA is not endorsing any candidate or party.  It is our goal to work with all of our elected representatives to ensure that our voice is heard and ensure that our representatives are responsive to our needs.

Map of St. Paul’s Riding

City of Toronto is reviewing On-Street Permit Parking

The City of Toronto Transportation Services is soliciting feedback from residents on potential policy changes and/or by-law amendments required to implement Residential On-street Permit Parking on streets that do not have permit parking. This includes the Casa Loma neighbourhood.

Transportation Services will report back to Toronto and East York Community Council on the results of the public consultation and surveys in the first quarter of 2019.

Click here to complete the Survey

The City has organized 4 information meetings

  1. April 23 – 7pm to 9pm – East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Ave.   Register here
  2. April 30 – 7pm to 9pm – Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, 250 St Clair Ave. W.   Register here
  3. May 1 – 7pm to 9pm – St James Cathedral Centre, Snell Hall, 65 Church St.   Register Here
  4. May 3 – 7pm to 9pm – Sheraton Hotel, Birchwood Room, 123 Queen St. W    Register here 

Further information Kate Kusiak in the City of Toronto’s public consultation unit.

Annual Casa Loma Yard Sale

The 11th Annual Casa Loma Yard Sale is once again being organized by Cheryl Millett. This year’s date is Saturday, June 2nd from 10 am to 2 pm.  The more participants the merrier. Many participants elect to donate proceeds to their favourite charity.

Click here for 10 tips suggested by Cheryl on how to declutter your home. You would be surprised on what you don’t need but what others can use.

Fee is $5 to participate for advertising in the Toronto Star, Kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook etc. and printed materials (posters and signs, maps listing participating homes). By working together we will have more fun, bring in more traffic and sell more! You may drop off your fee to Cheryl at 5 Nina Street.

Volunteers are also welcome to help in organizing this year’s event.

Cheryl Millett if you are interested by Friday May 18, 2017.

 

 

Mixed Use Development at 390-398 Spadina Road

The following message was sent to us by the South Forest Hill Residents’ Association on March 27, 2018. Their message has great relevance to the Casa Loma Residents Association given the risk of inappropriate development in our neighbourhood.

……………………………

A GREAT COMMUNITY EFFORT

The South Forest Hill Residents’ Association (SFHRA) is pleased to report that a mediated settlement has been reached for the development at 390-398 Spadina Road. This is the property that formerly included Bonanza Video and The Village Idiot at the corner of Spadina Road and Montclair. It passed City Council unanimously today.

Due to the rules of mediation, in which SFHRA was an official participant, we were restricted from providing detailed updates until after the process was concluded.

It is important to note that the compromise, which was reached after countless hours of mediation, negotiation and meetings, is a tribute to our devoted and skillful lawyer Johanna Shapira and the community effort led by SFHRA. Ms Shapira’s contributions were consistently professional and above and beyond the call of duty. Without her participation, we would have not been successful.

The original proposal was for a nine-storey, monolithic, block building with 46 units. The negotiated settlement we achieved is a six-storey building with a four-storey podium, a mechanical room on the roof, and a maximum of 34 units. The two upper floors and the mechanical room will be setback so that they will not be seen from Spadina. The mass of the podium is not ideal, but it has been designed to fit harmoniously with the heritage building beside it. The ground floor will contain at least two commercial units.

The overall result has been hailed as an enormous achievement by both the Councillors involved, Joe Mihevc and Josh Matlow – whom we thank for their skillful navigation and leadership.

During the whole process, SFHRA needed to balance its views of what was desirable against what was feasible. Despite generous contributions from within our community, we were seriously underfunded for formal opposition to the developer’s proposal. A rejection of a compromise at mediation would have meant a full OMB hearing. Any hopes for success in that venue would have required SFHRA to establish a budget in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for lawyers, planners and other experts. Furthermore, success at the OMB, historically, has resided with the Developer.

As a result of Ms. Shapira’s unstinting hard work and ability to work closely with the City staff, we were able to circumscribe the proposals of the developer that crossed “red lines”. At mediation, we were able to achieve a development where: the low-scale character of Forest Hill Village was respected, the precedent acceptable and, after a decade of derelict storefronts, an improved streetscape consistent with the neighbourhood.

Thank you to all – most especially to our amazing lawyer, Johanna Shapira of Wood Bull LLP and our generous donors.

We should also note, Councillor Mihevc obtained a commitment for a substantial Section 37 donation to the community by the Applicants. The SFHRA will play a key role in the process of deciding its allocation.

Further details on the settlement and answers to questions will be provided at a:

Community Meeting
April 12th, 2018, at 7 p.m.
Grace-on-the-Hill (300 Lonsdale Road)

The April 12th meeting will also be an opportunity to start the discussion of where people would like to see the Section 37 monies, even though the money will not flow until the development has started.

A final point of business for the Community meeting will be to consider the future of SFHRA and, perhaps, elect an SFHRA Executive. Further information on this agenda will be circulated before the meeting.

Please join us for the Community Meeting hosted by Councillor Joe Mihevc for an opportunity to learn more about our community, to celebrate our achievement, to thank our lawyer, Councillors, the amazing hard-working City staff and to elect an SFHRA Executive.

350 Walmer Road TLAB Decision

350 Walmer Road proposed streetscape

On March 1 a Settlement was approved at the TLAB Appeal hearing regarding the proposed development for 350 Walmer Road. The Appeal was launched last year after the City approved the subdivision of the 50 foot lot into two 25 foot lots, an increase in the permitted coverage for both lots from 60% to 73% and the building of a 3 story detached home on each of the North Lot and South Lot to within 18 inches of the lot lines. The City of Toronto, the Casa Loma Residents Association and many homeowners joined in Appealing the decision. The Appeal was led by Ed Eng, an owner of 348 Walmer Road whose property to the south was most affected by the proposal. The owner of the property to the north at 352 Walmer Road, which unlike 348 Walmer Road has its own personal driveway separating its structure from the proposed structure, chose not to appeal.

All parties were advised prior to the Appeal hearing that the severing of the lot was not inconsistent with the mixture of lot sizes in the area. The Appeal therefore focused on 2 issues: (1) the impact on an adjacent property of a structure being built within 18 inches (.46 cm) of a property line and (2) the damage to the neighbourhood streetscape and building pattern if properties of the proposed size were built, separated by only 18 inches to the next property line.

As the owner adjacent to the North Lot did not appeal, the building for the North Lot was approved. That made changes to the South Lot very difficult to consider as the structure on the North Lot was now fixed.

The Settlement that was approved at the TLAB hearing was between Mr. Eng and the owners of the proposed development. The Settlement provided for, among other things, the building on the South Lot to be built 24” ( 60 cm) from the lot line, for the waterproofing of the north wall of Mr. Eng’s home, for an engineering consultant to ensure that the grading plan and drainage between the house structures (to be separated by less than 3 feet) is appropriate, for a window on the third floor to be set back with no option of later being an access to a third floor deck, protection of a tree on Mr. Eng’s property, construction of a retaining wall and fence between the two properties, additional landscaping and for the payment of Mr. Eng’s legal and out of pocket expenses to a maximum of $10,000.

As stated in the Casa Loma Residents Association Objection to the development proposed for 350 Walmer Road the proposal is not consistent with Toronto’s Official Plan that directs new development in Neighbourhoods (Casa Loma is designated as a Neighbourhood) to respect and reinforce the existing physical character of the area, including the pattern of streetscapes and open spaces.

In the opinion of the Casa Loma Residents Association, the development at 350 Walmer Road is not consistent with Toronto’s Official Plan as stated above and will not be the last that will require our attention.

The 512 Showcase at Wychwood Barns – March 3 @ 7pm

The 512 Showcase celebrates the incredible and diverse local talent here in the St. Clair West community. Hosted by Award Winning singer/song writer Amanda Martinez and Award winning actor and writer Joanne Vannicola, 14 acts will perform live on stage at the Artscape Wychwood Barns as celebrations begin for its 10th anniversary! Food and drink will be avaiable to purchase.
All proceeds from the event will go back into the community through the Wychwood Barns Community Association whose sole mission is to build, strengthen and engage the St. Clair West Community.
PURCHASE TICKETS @$10 each

350 Walmer Road – Toronto Local Appeal Body Hearing – change of Location

We have received notice from the Toronto Local Appeal Body that due to the high number of elected Participants and Parties, the matter is being relocated to a larger hearing room to support the number of registered attendees. The new address is: York Civic Centre, 2700 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto. The hearing date and time is unchanged: March 1, 2018 at 9:00 am.

Report on Open Meeting held Nov. 22 at Casa Loma

Joe Mihevc addressing the CLRA meeting

Joe Mihevc addressing the CLRA meeting

A large number of neighbours filled the Conservatory of Casa Loma to be updated on several matters of importance to our community. In addition to our city counsellor, Joe Mihevc, Shaun Cameron from Minister Carolyn Bennett’s office, Mike Ferguson from Minister Eric Hoskins office and Nick Di Donato, CEO of Liberty Entertainment attended.

CLRA President, Robert Levy, opened the meeting and explained the Association’s role is to advocate the neighbourhood’s interests by finding a sense of balance and accord by respecting and listening to all sides of an issue. This approach has been successful in reaching acceptable compromises in the past. The objective for the evening was to present information so that neighbours would have a better understanding of the issues impacting our neighbourhood and get involved so they may contribute to successful outcomes.

Joe Mihevc updated the meeting on 5 matters.

    1. The Heritage District Study

The city chose to study the Casa Loma neighbourhood as a potential heritage district as the neighbourhood has been defined by historical properties such as Casa Loma, Spadina House, the Wychwood Library, a number of homes that date from that era and our precious tree canopy. Heritage district designations help define what neighbourhood attributes are worth preserving and by defining the rules beforehand can avoid some acrimony over what’s worth protecting and what’s not.

    1. Wychwood Library

The Library is a Heritage Property and needs to be expanded to meet the needs of a growing population. Joe passed out drawings of the new library expansion which will be a modern, largely glass design, that will be a visual compliment to the original structure. The new addition will also incorporate the Lawn Bowling clubhouse which will be demolished as its structure was not deemed to be historical. Construction will start in the spring of 2018 and will be financed in part by a $1.5 million contribution from the new condominium nearing completion on the south east corner of Bathurst and St. Clair. Any construction road encroachment will be on Melgund, not Bathurst.

    1. Petro Canada site at the North East corner of Bathurst and St. Clair.

The site has been sold to pension fund investors who want to build 3 high end rental towers on the property which is about 3 times the area of the Rise Condominium nearing completion. Joe    referenced the height of the three towers already at that intersection for comparison. The review process will look at any proposed heights, the social impact that the number of new residents will have on the neighbourhood and what new public facilities may be needed to accommodate them. There will be no encroachment on to Bathurst during the construction phase as the property is large enough to accommodate the staging areas for the construction. Related, Joe told us that the encroachment on Bathurst by the Rise Condominium construction will be removed by the end of January or earlier if weather permits.

    1. Noise & Traffic from Casa Loma

The city entered into an operating contract with the Liberty Entertainment Group for the operation of Casa Loma after many years of under management by the Kiwanis Club. The castle is owned by the city and is paying for the much needed outside structural renovation from income earned from the lease to Liberty Entertainment. There are 4 years of renovation work ahead starting with the cement and stone perimeter walls and then the renovation of the structures north of Austin Terrace. The city is engaged in discussions with Liberty Entertainment to address neighbourhood concerns about noise, traffic and parking. Essentially, we now have a very successful entertainment complex operating in a residential neighbourhood. The city and Liberty Entertainment are interested in working towards an accommodation that will recognize the interests of both the rejuvenated Casa Loma and the residential characteristics of the neighbourhood, through professional studies and some trial and error steps.

  1. Public construction in our area
    • We’re about half way through the 4 year process to build two elevators into the Dupont Subway station. Work is largely finished at the North West corner and will now begin at the South East corner.
    • The Spadina bridge construction is complete including the underpinning damage caused by a broken water pipe.
    • Work will start on the Spadina Railway bridge reconstruction in 2021 which will affect traffic patterns in the area.

Robert Levy then spoke about the success the Association has had in reaching compromise with the development proposals for 7 Austin Terrace (McLean House), 72 Wells Hill (maintaining the façade) and 18 Wells Hill (maintaining the set back). He also thanked Paul Morrison and his firm McCarthy Tetrault for the huge amount of legal work for the CLRA which was required to represent our interests on the three heritage properties and which McCarthy Tetrault provided on a pro bono basis.

He also applauded the owner of 35 Wells Hill who decided not to demolish their house and instead came up with a plan which fits nicely into the streetscape. Related to this, the city determined that the large tree in front of 35 Wells Hill was diseased and could not be preserved.

350 Walmer Road proposed streetscape

350 Walmer Road proposed streetscape

A developer’s plan for the property at 350 Walmer Rd. will be reviewed by the Toronto Local Appeal Board at an appeal meeting March 1st . The plan calls for demolishing the existing house, subdividing the 50 foot lot into 2 – 25 foot lots and constructing 2 single family homes with added coverage and only 1.5 feet of setback to the property line. The sub division is not inconsistent with other lots on the street but the size and character of the proposed houses is out of place. The CLRA has sent a letter of objection to the TLAB stating that this development “is not consistent with Toronto’s Official Plan that directs new development in Neighbourhoods (Casa Loma is designated as a Neighbourhood) to respect and reinforce the existing physical character of the area, including the pattern of streetscapes and open spaces.”

Richard Macklin then updated the meeting on the CLRA’s intervention with NAV Canada and the Minister’s staff due to NAV Canada’s decision in 2011 to move and concentrate the flight patterns to Pearson Airport which has resulted in 40% of all arrival flights flying directly over our neighbourhood. The CLRA has formed an association with three other residents groups on this matter – Hillcrest Residents Association, South Hill Residents Association and Ardwold Gate Residents group. The group has retained the services of a former Air Canada pilot familiar with Nav Canada to help us.

Jonathan Spencer reported that we were not able to save the Wells Hill Lawn Bowling clubhouse from demolition as it was deemed not to be of historical character. We were able to secure the Club’s future which will  operate out of new premises to be incorporated into the expansion of the Wychwood library. The club will continue to operate during construction. (www.wellshilllawnbowling.com)

Laura William informed the meeting of the formation of the Sir Winston Churchill Park Association which will be organizing community input into what goes back into the park once construction of the reservoir is finished in late 2019 and what steps can be taken to rejuvenate the adjacent Nordheimer ravine and Roycroft park lands. (www.swcpark.org)

Annabel Weinstein spoke of our wonderful tree canopy which is such an integral part of our life here in Casa Loma. Over the past several years we have lost many trees to the ice storm, water storm damage and aging. She reminded us that we are the family for our trees and we should be diligent in caring for the trees on our properties and contacting the city when trees within their setback need pruning or treatment for pest infestation.

Leaf removal Nov 27.

Leaf removal Nov 27.

We were also informed that the City will not be removing the leaves from our streets again this year and the pile up in front of many homes will be dangerous when winter storms arrive. However, following the meeting, Robert Levy met with Joe Mihevc and his office was subsequently successful in having our streets cleaned of leaves one more time. This was an exceptional case to ensure our neighbourhood would be safer and not inconvenienced by leaves left on the street. It is the responsibility of every homeowner to now bag their leaves for the last pickup day December 5th.

Tamara Anson-Cartwright of the Toronto Planning Department spoke to the Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Study underway by the Toronto Planning Department. HCD’s are there to ensure that the significance and character of areas with cultural heritage value are protected and conserved in the long term. There have been more than 20 HCD’s designated in Toronto and ours is one of eleven neighbourhoods being studied for potential designation. An Open House for community input was held on September 28th at Toronto Archives on Spadina Road (https://hcdtoronto.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/casa-loma-hcd-study-open-house} and another is planned for February/March. Results of the Study and recommendation on whether our neighbourhood warrants a heritage designation is expected in late Spring or early Summer. Dyan Kirshenbaum is leading the CLRA’s participation in the Study. Of importance to us is how the designation will affect our property values and our ability to renovate our homes. We were told that the designation affects only what is visible from the street and not what is inside our homes or our backyards. Further, neighbourhoods with heritage designations have seen an increase in their property values relative to other neighbourhoods as people want to live in them.

Joann Breitman spoke to the discussions underway with Casa Loma, Joe Mihevc’s office, Josh Matlow’s office and the City about noise, traffic and parking issues related to events such as Legends of Horror at Casa Loma. We learned that Casa Loma has been granted exemptions to the noise bylaws in the past without the opportunity for neighbourhood input. Joe Mihevc interjected that there was no malice of intent by Casa Loma and likely the City just didn’t appreciate what they were approving given the 70 years of previous under management. We also learned that the area behind the Stables will be used as a construction holding area for the 4 years of renovation planned for Casa Loma. This area was chosen by Casa Loma instead of a portion of their parking lot and will have a greater impact on residents of Walmer Rd. and those on Lyndhurst Ave. backing on to the stables.

The CLRA now has the attention of Casa Loma and the various city departments involved, like our Councillors (the property is split between wards 21 and 22), Economic Development, Culture, and Tourism. We can expect better communications and hope for better relations now that all parties are in the tent together.

The CLRA is looking for members and volunteers. The CLRA is a volunteer run association and requires funding to support its various projects. The web site will now be updated by Ed Collins and residents will be able to buy memberships and make other contributions through the web site in the near future. Many people who attended the meeting joined the Association and made contributions. www.CLRAtoronto.com.

All those who attended the meeting received 2 admission tickets to Casa Loma Winterland Nights courtesy of the Liberty Entertainment Group. The program details and schedule of performances for this event which runs from December 18th to January 7th will soon be posted on the Casa Loma web site.  www.casaloma.ca.

 

Preserving A City’s History

Preserving A City’s History, The Ontario Heritage Act and the Importance of Heritage Designations in the City of Toronto. An essay by Carmen Siegel.

Download the complete essay (PDF)

CLRA Newsletter (March 2015)

Read the latest news from the CLRA.

Download the March 2015 Newsletter (PDF)

Neilson House Preserved

Following the success in designating the Maclean House property at 7 Austin Terrace, the CLRA has worked successfully with Toronto Heritage Preservation Services to ensure that the Neilson House at 72 Wells Hill would not be demolished and would have it’s key architectural features and location preserved.