Casa Loma Residents Association

Heritage Neighbourhood • Vibrant and Strong Community

Author: CLRA (page 1 of 4)

Clearing of Leaves by Road Operations

The City’s Road Operations Department began clearing our streets of leaves on Saturday as arranged with the CLRA. They removed leaves from Lyndhurst Ave., Lyndhurst Court, Austin Terrace, Austin Crescent and part of Wells Hill. On Monday they will finish Wells Hill and remove leaves from Hilton, Melgund, Nina, Walmer and Castleview.

Bagged leaves will be picked up separately on Tuesday November 17th under the 2020 waste collection schedule.

Where possible, please do not park on streets to be cleared on Monday so that the removal will be as complete as possible.

We do not know if there will be another removal of leaves from the streets this year. Please use yard waste bags from this point on. There is one additional scheduled pickup of bagged leaves on Tuesday December 1st.

Leaves, Snow and a Community Forum

LEAVES


The CLRA has asked the City to clear our streets of leaves which have now been accumulating for some time. The City therefore will be sending in a crew to remove leaves from our streets early morning this SATUDAY NOVEMBER 14th. To facilitate the leaf removal, and where possible, residents are asked to remove their vehicles from the streets.

Please pass this information along to your neighbours.

SNOW

One of our residents on Walmer Rd. brought to our attention the petition organized by Councillor Josh Matlow to assist him in getting City Council approval to improve the snow clearing of sidewalks in downtown neighbourhoods like ours where the sidewalks are not being cleared to the same standards as other neighbourhoods in Toronto. You can assist him in getting this addressed by signing his petition at https://joshmatlow.ca/snow-clearing/

CITY SERVICES

Councillor Matlow will also be hosting an online community safety forum to provide an opportunity for residents to ask important questions to the Toronto Police Service and City of Toronto staff from Fire Services, Social, Development, Finance and Administration, Shelter Support and Housing Administration, the Community Crisis Response Team, Municipal Licensing and Standards and Transportation Services.

DATE: Tuesday, November 24th 2020

TIME: 6:30pm-8:30pm

The link to this forum will be posted on https://joshmatlow.ca/communitysafety/ at 6pm on November 24th, i.e. 30 minutes before the start time.

The format will not show any of the attendees, only your voice will be recorded if you wish to ask a question or make a comment.

CASA LOMA RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION

Please pass on to us () any matters you would like us to address or any ideas we can bring to our neighbours. We can help each other and accomplish more together.

Red Light Camera at Bathurst & Nina

We have been informed by Josh Matlow’s office that a RED LIGHT CAMERA will be installed at Bathurst and Nina before the end of November.

A red light camera is a type of traffic enforcement camera that captures an image of a vehicle which has entered an intersection in spite of the traffic signal indicating red (during the red phase).

Generally, the camera is triggered when a vehicle enters the intersection (passes the stop-bar) after the traffic signal has turned red.

The set fine for running a red light detected by a camera system is $260, plus a $60 victim surcharge and a $5 court cost. The total payable is $325.

The RED LIGHT CAMERA at Bathurst and Nina has been a project of the CLRA for a few years. It will be the third camera in our area. The others are located at St. Clair and Spadina and Bathurst and Davenport.

We have also been informed that the traffic signals at Bathurst and Melgund will become active this Friday, November 6th.

Don Alfonso 1890 at Casa Loma

Liberty Entertainment Group (LEG) recently re-opened Don Alfonso 1890 as a “POP-UP” restaurant in the Conservatory of Casa Loma.  The high-end restaurant, which opened in the Financial District in 2018, closed following government pandemic mandates on March 19.   In mid-August, LEG announced they would close for good as its location in the Consumers Gas Building on Toronto St. was bought by a foreign company that plans on turning it into a condo.

The new temporary home inside Casa Loma seats 60 guests, arranged to meet the government’s social distance requirements.   The Conservatory has traditionally been used as a wedding venue, accommodating 90 guests for a seated dinner or 150 for a standing reception.

Activity at the castle is down considerably because of Covid.  The POP-UP restaurant will bring back some employment and shouldn’t make a noticeable difference to the traffic, noise  and congestion that has  been the case at Casa Loma in the past.

The CLRA is concerned about the possibility of this POP-UP restaurant becoming a permanent fixture in the Stables building at some point in the future when life after Covid returns to normal.  We have brought this concern to our Councillor Josh Matlow.  At this point, LEG has raised with the city (Economic Development and Culture) the notion of a restaurant on the “north campus” but discussions have not yet begun as the City has indicated several initial research steps need to be taken first such as compliance with zoning, building envelope capacity and heritage.  The City has assured us that we will be fully consulted before any decisions are made or even any significant action is taken, and then if the idea is advanced any further than a general idea, there would be further consultations on specific matters such as design, traffic, etc.

Our Councillor’s office is following up on the lease review process for the Stables that has been stalled due to the pandemic. Once they have any news on that (and/or the restaurant), a meeting will be held with the CLRA.

The CLRA strongly feels that no restaurant or other type of permanent establishment should be installed on this property given that the Stables and other structures north of Austin Terrace are wholly within an established residential area and that this area is already disrupted by traffic exiting onto Walmer Rd. from the stables.   We have asked our Councillor to have the City incorporate our position into any discussions they will have with  LEG or other party related to the lease and use of the Stables and other properties north of Austin Terrace.

We will be following developments closely and keep you informed.

 

Casa Loma Cancels Legends of Horror due to Covid concerns

The following was received from Councillor Matlow’s Office.

Liberty Entertainment Group (LEG) has made the responsible decision to put public health first by cancelling this year’s Legends of Horror event at Casa Loma. Councillor Matlow’s office was in communication with Mayor Tory and LEG directly over the course of this week further to community concerns.

Although the event could have gone ahead under provincial guidelines, the Councillor shared skepticism about the ability to control crowds gathering before/after the event on sidewalks and in parks. The LEG decision is consistent with the recommendation of Dr. Eileen de Villa, Chief Medical Officer, City of Toronto, to restrict socializing with individuals outside one’s household due to the rising number of COVID cases.

The CLRA supported Councillor Matlow in his discussions with all parties involved.

CLRA Objects to Variances requested by owner of 66 Wells Hill Ave.

The CLRA considers the application for variance and permission before the Committee of Adjustment re: 66 Wells Hill Ave.  is deeply problematic.  The application appears to contain erroneous and or misleading information as set out below.

  1. The applicants built six ancillary buildings on the property without permits or permission from the City of Toronto.  The applicants now seek to obtain the City of Toronto permission after-the-fact.  This type of build-first ask for permission later should not be encouraged by the City of Toronto.  To grant after-the-fact permission would encourage this applicant and all Toronto residents to engage in this unacceptable behaviour.
  2. The actual buildings on the property as built, offend the existing zoning by-law.  The applicants appear to suggest the main ancillary building (Building C) is a garage.  That ancillary building is a second house with a full operating washroom and other living amenities.  Had the applicant followed the proper City of Toronto process to obtain permits for building beforehand, the permits would likely have been denied on several bases.
    • The main ancillary building is a second house on the property, which is not permitted for a variety of reasons.  To call a second house a garage is an obvious attempt to circumvent zoning and building laws.
    • The property is massively overbuilt, having less soft landscaping than required by the by-law.  This is problematic not only due to the by-law infringement but given the ancient at-risk Oak forest in which this property is located.
    • We have concerns about servicing this ancillary building with necessary city services including Toronto fire services.
    • The total floor area of all buildings on the lot is 2.6 times what is permitted by the by-law.  This poses obvious precedent issues with such massive overbuild.
  3. The applicant is attempting to circumvent the required application process.  This behaviour cannot be encouraged by the City of Toronto.  The onsite buildings were not properly inspected during construction, were not authorized by the City to begin with, and do not abide by past or current zoning laws.  These applicants have come to the committee of adjustment asking for relief from their own misconduct.  The committee need not find a remedy for their problem.  These applicants are the authors of their misfortune.  The committee ought to send a strong message that such conduct is unacceptable by denying the application.

The CLRA Submission to the COA is available HERE.

The Application will be heard online (COVID requirement) on October 8, at 9:00 AM. Application material can be accessed HERE.

The public Webex meeting on Thursday October 8th can be accessed HERE.

To participate in the public Webex virtual meeting you must register in advance no later than 4:30 pm Tuesday October 6th by phoning 416-392-7565 (leave voice mail)  or emailing The File Reference is A0213/20TEY

 

 

Environmental Group Maintains Pressure regarding Environmental Concerns from St. Clair and Bathurst Development

The Environmental Group (“EG”), led by resident Barbara Chernin, has persisted in its dialogue with Councillor Matlow’s office, Suncor (parent of Petro-Canada) and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) through the summer following the approval by City Council on June 18th of the zoning amendment for the three tower development at Bathurst and St. Clair with an Addendum that requires a review of the remediation plan for the former gas station and inspection of its lands and surrounding areas (which include Wells Hill Park and Nordheimer Ravine). See Approval.

On August 24th Suncor informed the EG that they will provide an update on the remediation of their lands once they hear from the City, City Councillor or the MEPC.  With regard to the surrounding area, the EG’s concern is whether the tree deterioration in the Nordheimer Ravine is due to pest, traffic congestion or groundwater and soil contamination emanating from the Development site.

The EG will maintain its dialogue with the MEPC, the City and Councillor Matlow to ensure environmental concerns are addressed before a building permit is issued for the project.

They will keep us informed as updates and reports are issued.

Signs of Encampment at Wells Hill Park

On July 14th, The CLRA was notified by some residents that there appeared to be an encampment growing at Wells Hill Park.

 

 

 

We brought this to the attention of Councillor Josh Matlow who reported back to us on July 15th.

From Councillor Matlow’s Office

The City’s approach to encampments is a multidisciplinary effort with staff from Parks, Forestry & Recreation, Transportation Services, Solid Waste Management Services, and Shelter, Support and Housing Administration with support from Municipal Licensing and Standards and Toronto Police Service to ensure the safety of all. This unfortunately is an issue that has been happening and continues to happen in parks throughout our City, including Rosedale and parts of the Harbourfront.

The City’s Streets to Homes outreach staff and external agencies work with individuals daily to conduct wellness checks and offer all people sleeping outside access to inside space in advance of any move of an encampment site.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, if an encampment is vacated by individuals choosing to access shelter, respite sites, hotels or housing, then the site is cleaned by City staff.  Outreach teams approach people at encampments days in advance of any moves.  If an offer to access these supports is refused, a notification of encampment clearing is issued, and the site is cleared by City staff and contracted services.

Camping outdoors in parks and rights-of-way is prohibited in the city of Toronto.  Open flames, generators, propane tanks, and lack of access to water and sanitation increases health and safety risks for individuals, as well as to the community in general.  The City has implemented rigorous Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) measures at all City-run and funded sites in the shelter system to minimize the spread of COVID and protect clients.

The City of Toronto remains focused on the safety of those in encampments and on moving people sleeping outdoors to safe indoor space. The City continues to secure spaces to offer to people who are staying at encampments throughout the city.

Councillor Matlow’s Office also notified the City’s Parks Ambassador- Troy Ford  to bring this to his team’s immediate attention.


UPDATE JULY 25

The number of tents did not grow beyond the two first reported.  By July 25th both tents had been removed from the park.

Zoning Approved for St. Clair & Bathurst Development

The Zoning By-law Application for 1467 Bathurst St. (the St. Mikes former Petro Canada station) was approved by Toronto & East York Community Council on June 18, 2020 with an Addendum to address the concerns raised by the CLRA related to (i) traffic congestion and related by-pass through our neighbourhood and (ii) assurances that there has been full remediation of the contaminants emanating from the former Petro Canada gas station on the site.

On June 25th Councillor Matlow organized a Conference Call with the CLRA that involved representatives from City Planning and Transportation.  We were informed in that call that the next major milestone is the approval of the site plan.  The site plan process will take some time and as part of that process there will be community consultation to review the construction management plan and the impact on traffic and what amelioration can be achieved.  We emphasized that all construction staging should be managed on site so that no traffic lane or sidewalk will be closed on Bathurst or St. Clair.  Further traffic and pedestrian needs should be addressed in the context not only of this development but also in anticipation of the development of several new towers along St. Clair (both residential and commercial) and Bathurst.  We discussed ideas already presented such as the addition of a right hand Turn lane along St. Clair for the length of the development or an advanced green arrow from St. Clair to Bathurst Street North.  We also spoke to the issue of pedestrian safety crossing Bathurst and the inevitability of a collision between a frustrated driver and pedestrians who, as we practice ourselves, have a predilection to enter an intersection against the flashing amber hand signal.

We will not likely see any massive change in the development proposal at this time as the developer now has his zoning approval.  Nevertheless there is still the opportunity to deal with the traffic and congestion issues of concern to our community.  Councillor Matlow has requested that the CLRA be incorporated into a working group involving the developer and the City during the whole process.

Regarding the remediation of the lands at 1467 Bathurst St. and the surrounding areas, including Wells Hill Park and the Nordheimer Ravine, City Council, in the Addendum, also requested Engineering and Construction Services, in consultation with City Legal, to undertake a review of the 2001 Council-approved remediation and the status of its implementation.  City Council also requested Urban Forestry to undertake an inspection of the Nordheimer ravine to determine whether there is indication of excessive deterioration of trees or atypical forest health concerns and whether there are related fire hazard concerns.

We are pleased that Councillor Matlow is on our side with respect to these important community issues.  The site plan discussions will likely take place this fall and at that time we also expect an updated report on the status of the land remediation.  We will keep you informed.

Update on Proposed Daycare at 105 Wells Hill Ave.

As you know from our last update, in April 2020 the owner of the property obtained approval from the Committee of Adjustment to convert his house in to a 37-child daycare, which approval was conditional upon obtaining a permit from Transportation Services for commercial boulevard parking on the city-owned lands immediately north of the building.  The owner has not obtained commercial boulevard parking and understands that Councillor Matlow would trigger a poll of residents to determine the issue.

The CLRA has since learned that the owner had filed in September 2019 a concurrent application for a building permit to convert his house into a smaller daycare ‘as of right’ without the need to obtain a variance from the Committee, nor commercial boulevard parking.   It is not known how many fewer children would attend the smaller daycare.

As it happens, the building permit was granted in January, as it complied with all zoning laws.  This was prior to the February 2020 hearing in which the owner obtained conditional approval for the larger daycare.  You may have noticed that the building permit has been posted in one of the windows on the property and that work may be imminent.   It may be that the owner is content to proceed with the smaller daycare because it does not require further approvals nor a poll of neighbours.

The manner in which the owner of 105 Wells Hill received this separate approval ‘as of right’ is that the plans he submitted concurrently with his application to the Committee without the CLRA’s knowledge feature a reduced footprint for the daycare and an additional parking space inside the existing basement.  Parents would be expected to use the basement garage as the drop-off area.   Under the ‘as of right’ proposal, the parking variance and the application for commercial boulevard parking become unnecessary.

Notwithstanding that the plans were approved as of right and that the start of work appears imminent, we continue to explore options to challenge this dangerous proposal and will update you about any developments.

Should you have any questions, please direct them to Nicholas Saint-Martin at .

Submission to Toronto and East York Council re: St.Clair Bathurst Development

The Casa Loma Residents Association (“CLRA”) is a volunteer organization of residents living in the Casa Loma area of Toronto committed to strengthening and preserving the distinctive character, heritage and quality of life in the Toronto neighbourhood bounded by Bathurst to Spadina and St. Clair to Davenport.  Our goal is to represent our shared ideals of protecting our heritage neighbourhood and fully participating within our dynamic city of Toronto.

The development proposed for 1467 Bathurst St. consisting of three towers, a public daycare, indoor community space and retail shops is the first of several high rise projects planned for St. Clair Ave. West between Bathurst St. and Spadina Ave along the northern border of our residential neighbourhood. The development at 1467 Bathurst St. will add 824 apartment units of 1 – 3 bedrooms and will be the continuation of major intensification of our area already preceded by 4 hi rise towers at the intersection of Bathurst & St. Clair.

We recognize that we are adjacent to a major transportation hub with the Spadina subway, St. Clair street car and Bathurst buses connecting or to be connected upon completion of 1467 Bathurst and that development near transportation is critical to servicing the growth of Toronto. Further, through the process of public consultation organized by the City’s planning department several of the concerns of the original proposal for this site have been addressed. The open spaces now incorporated into the plan, the width of the St. Clair sidewalk and other setbacks are more aesthetic and suited to a residential development. Although the density proposed is higher than we would like, we accept that it is hard to argue against density at this location.

We are concerned about the traffic and congestion that this development will bring into our residential neighbourhood if not addressed at the outset. That is why  on October 29, 2019 City Council passed a motion on the advice of the Toronto and East York Council and led by our Councillor Josh Matlow to request a comprehensive Traffic Management and Mitigation Plan for the St. Clair Avenue West and Bathurst Street Planning Framework Area.  We have not yet received notice of this transportation study nor has there been any community input to date.  We believe that no further approvals should be given to this development prior to the completion and dissemination to the neighbourhood and interested parties of the full traffic study.

Prior to the reduction in traffic attributed to the restrictions of Covid-19, we were living with intolerable traffic congestion westbound along St. Clair during rush hours. The only westbound access to our neighbourhood from St. Clair is from Wells Hill Ave. During rush hour, traffic would be stalled all the way from Bathurst St. to Tweedsmuir Ave, a distance of about 700 metres and would impede access to our neighbourhood. Further, and perhaps more importantly, instead of using the left hand turn from St. Clair at Bathurst, traffic would turn at Wells Hill Ave. into our residential neighbourhood to circumvent the congested intersection of Bathurst and St. Clair.

There are many reasons for this congestion but one of the major reasons is that traffic turning right at Bathurst and St. Clair would have to wait for pedestrians to cross Bathurst before making a turn. This would block all traffic on the curb lane from proceeding westbound. The situation is compounded by a bus stop on Bathurst just north of the intersection which further blocks traffic from making a right turn.

We understand that the revised plans call for a bus bay to be incorporated into the development plans on Bathurst north of St. Clair. Confirmation of that would be good news and will be critical to the improvement of traffic flow. A further step would the addition of a long right turn lane on St. Clair, likely stretching the full length of the development, coupled with a right turn arrow so that traffic will not be continuously blocked by pedestrian traffic. If a right turn lane is not feasible, prohibition of Right Turns at the north east corner during rush hour from St. Clair to Bathurst is another option. The planned development will bring 901 more vehicles into our area (the number of planned parking spots) and will thereby increase the traffic congestion along with the traffic attracted by the retail shops, day care and future development for the Bathurst St. Clair corridor.

Improvement of the traffic flow at Bathurst and St. Clair is an initial step before further evaluation of traffic flowing into our neighbourhood can be studied.

It is imperative that this congestion be addressed at the outset of the development.

We have no information relating to wind or shade studies. The high-rise developments on the northwest and southeast corners of St. Clair and Bathurst substantially increased the constant wind at that intersection. Often, the wind exceeds tolerable limits and even causes panes of glass to be ripped from the streetcar stop at that intersection. We urge the City of Toronto to review the wind study and to the extent possible, insist on incorporating elements on the proposed site that may correct the wind issues at that intersection

The CLRA also supports area residents who have formed an Environmental Group led by Barbara Chernin. This group has discovered that the soil and groundwater on the proposed site and adjacent properties are contaminated from leaks caused by the Petro Canada gas station previously located on the proposed site. We echo this group’s concerns that the site and adjacent lands, including Wells Hill Park and the Nordheimer ravine, may not have been properly remediated.  We urge the City of Toronto to obtain appropriate environmental reports to uncover the extent of contamination, and to insist upon a comprehensive remediation plan for both the proposed site and adjacent lands, before approving any application for development.

 

Robert Levy

President

Casa Loma Residents Association

 

PDF available HERE

Public Meeting to Amend Zoning By-laws for 1467 Bathurst St.

The Developer of the Petro Canada property at St. Clair & Bathurst (known as 1467 Bathurst St.) has resubmitted plans for the property to the Toronto & East York Community Council to obtain the necessary zoning by-law amendments.  The re-submission is similar to that presented at a public meeting on December 4, 2019.

  • 3 towers: 35-storeys, 30-storeys, 30 storeys;
  • 824 units, reduced from 866 and now including 16 affordable housing units;
  • 901 parking spaces in a 5 level below grade garage;
  • newly proposed 464 sq. metre community space in tower 1;
  • new bus lay-by on Bathurst St;
  • 772 sq. metre public park;
  • 510 sq. metre public daycare facility;
  • 9 metre sidewalk on St Clair;
  • public use of privately owned open spaces; and
  • future interior TTC access.

The hearing is scheduled to be held on-line on Thursday June 18th at 10:00 am. You can follow the meeting at www.youtube.com/TorontoCityCouncilLive.

The CLRA, led by Jonah Arnold, will be submitting a written presentation ahead of the meeting. If you would like your views to be considered by the CLRA, please email them to .

If you want to address the hearing or make your own written submission, please email your request and/or submission to or phone 416-392-7033 no later than 12:00 pm on Wednesday June 17th. You will receive an email from the City with instructions on how to connect to the meeting.

The December 2019 CLRA report on the development which includes artist renderings can be accessed HERE.

Since the public meeting on December 4th the following documents have been filed:

Draft Zoning By-law Amendment

Development Approval Re-submission Form

Project Data Sheet

Updated Architectural Plans

Updated Landscape and Lighting Plans

Proposed High-rise Development on Montclair Ave.

We received the following message from the South Forest Hill Residents Association.

As concerned residents of South Forest Hill we are contacting you with important information about a high-rise development proposed for the south side of Montclair Avenue, west of Spadina.

Here is what we know to date:

1.   Fifteen single and semi-detached homes on the south side of Montclair (63-91) were bought by a developer, Parallax Development Corporation for between 2 to 4 million dollars each. The residents will live rent-free for two years. The sale is scheduled to go through on June 4, 2020.
2.   The developer is also seeking to purchase Bantry Avenue (the laneway between Montclair and Heath) from the City.
3.   The City planners reported that the developer is proposing to build two towers of 23 and 21 storeys respectively with a five storey podium and a setback. The development will also include some townhouses.
4.   This development is proposed for the narrow dead-end portion of Montclair that is adjacent to Lower Village Gate.
5.   The developer is represented by Bousfields Inc., a company that does “planning, design and engagement”.
6.   Bousfields has had 2 meetings with the City’s Planning Department and has met with our Councillor, Josh Matlow.
7.   No formal development application materials have been submitted yet.
8.   The SFHRA has retained a lawyer and has started working with the resident leadership in some of the buildings directly impacted by the proposed development. This is the same lawyer who worked successfully with the Association to modify the development on the North West corner of Montclair.

Why you need to be concerned:
1.   It appears the proposed development is out of proportion to the area in which it is proposed.
2.   The street is a small residential dead end with no egress except onto Spadina.
3.   The City already approved a six- storey building for the corner of Montclair and Spadina in addition to the three-story high townhouse development on the East side of Montclair.
4.   There may be great impact on the surrounding existing buildings with regard to traffic, sunlight, shadowing, noise and infrastructure.
5.   The impact may be particularly felt by the local community- especially from Lonsdale to the North and Heath to the South, the homes east off of Spadina and west to Bathurst as well as all surrounding areas including Lower Village Gate and Village Terraces.
6.   If approved, this type of development would set a precedent for further large developments in the Village.

The South Forest Hill Residents Association is asking for your participation and support.
You may contact the SFHRA at to lend your support and volunteer to join the effort to ensure that this development is scaled back to reduce undesirable impacts and so that it doesn’t drastically change the nature of the neighbourhood.

136 Lyndhurst Ave. UPDATE

Last December we became aware that the owner of 136 Lyndhurst Ave. had applied for a demolition permit. [See Demolition Permit for 136 Lyndhurst Ave. Under Review].  This house is one of ONLY 63 in the whole Casa Loma neighbourhood identified in the Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Study of 2017-18 that should be evaluated for inclusion in the Casa Loma Heritage Conservation District.

136 Lyndhurst Ave. – December 2019

The CLRA therefore tried to negotiate with the owners to maintain the front façade and porch of the building (or at least the key elements).  The CLRA had in fact notified our Councillor Josh Matlow and also officials in the City of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services department earlier in the year as soon as this property was listed for sale.  We also alerted the listing real estate agent that this property had been identified within the Casa Loma Heritage Conservation District Study.  Josh passionately tried to protect this house from demolition by organizing a face to face meeting between the CLRA and the owner and his architect where it became clear that they were fully aware of the HCD study and its recommendations.   Notwithstanding this they also made it clear that they appreciated the heritage and special nature of our Casa Loma neighbourhood but were still absolutely determined to demolish and replace this unique heritage home with a contemporary structure, inconsistent with the heritage character of the home and other homes on Lyndhurst  – one of the gateway streets to Casa Loma.

At the Toronto and East York Community Council meeting on February 5th which dealt with the demolition application Councillor Matlow vigorously defended the historical nature of our neighbourhood and won council support that no demolition permit would be issued before the issuance of a building permit.

The CLRA retained Joan Burt, architect and registered heritage specialist, on the recommendation of the Annex Residents Association.   Joan’s Report endorsed the heritage merits of this home and its contribution to the heritage character of the Casa Loma neighbourhood.  The home is a good example of the Arts and Crafts style because of its elegant porch and unique arched windows with leaded glass surrounded by flamboyant stone work and the brick .

Proposed new home

As the owners are not seeking any variances (same footprint and coverage), no Committee of Adjustment meeting is required paving the way for the issue of a building permit for the proposed 3 storey structure. (third floor windows will be visible in the rear).

The building permit and demolition permit were subsequently issued on March 16, 2020.

The CLRA is extremely concerned about the waste of taxpayer dollars by the City’s Heritage Preservation Services department and the extreme inefficiencies and lack of coordination between City departments.  Here we had a very public process where the neighbourhood was identified as one of VERY FEW heritage neighbourhoods in our City worthy of protection given its unique history and architectural contribution to the entire City of Toronto.  Significant tax payer dollars and time and effort by CLRA volunteers were spent on the Casa Loma HCD Study over 2017 and 2018, and nothing has happened since it was completed in July 2018.   This study provided a clear blueprint and public process which included the identification of certain areas to be protected as a whole and certain important individual properties that contributed significantly as well.   Yet even when all of this information, including our own heritage architect’s opinion and our own heritage research that the CLRA undertook which immediately identified the significance of this property and the context of the adjacent properties including a home at 134 Lyndhurst designed by Eden Smith one of Toronto’s most significant period architects (also the architect of Wychwood library).

The CLRA will continue to press forward to see the HCD Study brought to its full implementation before more damage is done to the historical characteristics of our unique and special neighbourhood.   We are waiting on further meetings with Councillor Matlow and the Heritage staff before other properties important to the contextual characteristics of our neighbourhood are lost to the wrecking ball.

We are not against contemporary architecture at all – we are against the destruction of significant heritage structures where the streetscape is forever altered and lost when the owners know they are buying properties within these heritage neighbourhoods.   We point to 72 Wells Hill as an example of maintaining the key elements of a heritage structure on a heritage street while the owner was able to build a completely new contemporary home that met their needs.   There is a group of owners who believe that they are entitled to build contemporary houses or oversize houses without any regard to the impact of the streetscape, immediate neighbours or the overall character of the neighbourhood.   We point to 20 Wells Hill where again the CLRA had to rally and invest significant financial and volunteer resources to prevent a complete disaster on Wells Hill.  There the owners were intent on skirting all discussions or feedback from neighbours and the neighborhood to build their contemporary home in a way that it would stick out and block the front façade of the immediate neighbor to the south and destroy a unique heritage private park developed as part of the predominant Garden City movement.  Although the new home does not suit the historical character of the street, the CLRA succeeded in having the home maintain the original setback.

The CLRA was also extremely disappointed to learn that our paid City staff officials within the Heritage Preservation Services department – who are charged with protecting heritage in our City and provided with significant taxpayer dollars to do so – were completely ineffective and unwilling to step up and completely failed to fulfill their mission and only end up causing confusion and conflict between departments and citizens.   The official in this case refused to help in seeking a delay in the issuing of a demolition permit where they could have easily sought to study the homes and the general grouping that had already been identified within the HCD study commissioned by their own hired consultants.   The city planner refused to address the recommendations in the Casa Loma HCD Study which identified 136 Lyndhurst along with the adjacent and nearby properties at 134, 133, 128,125, 120, 117 and 111 Lyndhurst among 63 properties identified as contributing factors to the creation of the Casa Loma Heritage Conservation District that should be evaluated for inclusion in the HCD.

This situation together with an unsatisfactory outcome for 20 Wells Hill avenue point to an urgent need to repair this broken process which is not only failing to accomplish what it was supposed to do but causing unnecessary conflict and dissension between citizens.

Robert Levy

President

Casa Loma Residents Association

Initiative to help Front Line Workers during Covid-19

Chloe Macklin, who just finished first year at Western and is now home with her parents on Austin Terrace has joined with some friends to help our front line workers during Covid-19.   They are bringing Bottles Against Covid to the Casa Loma neighbourhood.

They will pick up and return empty bottles & cans to the beer store, and 100% of money received from bottle returns will be donated to St. Joseph’s Health Centre COVID-19 Relief Fund.    St. Joe’s is a highly respected hospital that many of us consider as a great alternative to the downtown hospitals.

Logistics are simple: Once you have collected enough empty bottles / cans to fill a bag or box please fill out the link below.   Their pickup will happen TOMORROW between 1-4 pm (but please fill out the form as they need to know addresses for pick up!)   Simply place the box or bag on your front porch and they will come and collect it!   CONTACTLESS COLLECTION, OF COURSE!   Chloe’s group will be collecting in the Annex, Casa Loma, and Forest Hill neighbourhoods.

Please support this Casa Loma community initiative and share this with anyone you can in our neighbourhood!   The more people we can reach, the more bottles Chloe and her friends can collect in support of the COVID-19 relief efforts at St. Joe’s!

Click on this LINK for pickup.

Environmental Group formed to monitor proposed development at St. Clair & Bathurst

Barbara Chernin, a member of the CLRA, has been monitoring the tower development proposed for the northeast corner of St. Clair & Bathurst.

In addition to advocating for the Traffic Management & Mitigation Plan which was approved by City Council on October 29, 2019, Barbara also has concerns about ongoing assessment of soil and groundwater contamination being done on that site by the City and overseen by the province’s Ministry of Environment in conjunction with the developer’s team.   The contamination occurred as a result of a gas leak which began in the late 1990’s.   A Suncor Petro-Canada gas station was on that site for 25 years and dismantled only 9 years ago.   Suncor still continues remediation both on that site and beyond it.

This contamination and gas leak moved south and may have reached Wells Hill Park and the Nordheimer Ravine in addition to properties adjacent to the site.    Barbara is forming an Environmental Group of concerned neighbours, in the CLRA and neighbourhoods to the north and west, to explore this issue hoping to provide expertise and research from other sources so that it will be properly addressed.   The goal is to work together to give elected and other officials an opportunity to ensure appropriate steps have been taken to protect our environment and health using neighborhood input before construction begins.   Her plan is to communicate the status of research, actions and findings for the rest of us through updates.

We will keep residents of the Casa Loma neighborhood posted as this Group moves forward.   We will also keep you posted on other developments for the project such as the Transportation Management and Mitigation plan and other changes to the project as we become aware of them.

If you are interested in joining the Environmental Group, wish to voice your concerns or for more information, please contact Barbara at

New Petition Against Proposal for 105 Wells Hill Ave.

The application to establish a daycare at 105 Wells Hill Ave. was heard by the Committee of Adjustment on February 12, 2020.  While the Committee was sympathetic to arguments about traffic, safety and congestion from the 44 residents who filed letters of opposition and the 5 residents who attended the hearing in person to voice their opposition, the 5-member panel concluded that they could not consider those issues in their decision.  The Committee held that because daycare is a permitted use under the zoning bylaw for our area and the only variance the applicants required was a technical one relating to parking on city-owned lands, they had no choice but to conditionally approve the application.

Regardless, city staff responsible for transportation have so far failed to comprehend the extreme danger and congestion that will be caused by this use at this particular location – something that almost all residents who live in the area and actually rely on this critical artery fully understand.  The statements made by the CLRA and residents made it very clear that the neighbourhood is not opposed to daycare but are opposed to one in this particularly foolish location.

To this end, it was also raised with the Committee that there are negotiations underway between the City and Kingsett Capital to accommodate a large public daycare with 49-62 spaces within their three-tower development located nearby at 1467 Bathurst St. (the St. Michael’s development at the northeast corner of Bathurst St. and St. Clair Ave. W.).  The proposal also features a seniors’ centre, public green space, as well as ample and accessible parking for safe pick up and drop off at the daycare.

Despite the Committee’s decision on the application at 105 Wells Hill, its approval is nevertheless conditional on the owner applying for and obtaining commercial boulevard parking from the city in order to accommodate the necessary two (2) parking stalls for the daycare on the city-owned lands to the North of the property.  Upon applying for commercial boulevard parking, Councillor Josh Matlow has the option to trigger a poll of nearby residents in order to allow the neighbourhood to vote on the application and Councillor Matlow has confirmed that he will trigger this poll.

The CLRA remains firmly opposed to the proposal at 105 Wells Hill Ave., as those of us who live and travel here by foot and by car ever day know too well of the safety issues with this blind curve and narrow street. The proposed 2 parking spaces and their configuration are woefully inadequate to lessen the danger – especially as we know that parents picking up and dropping off their kids have the tendency to do whatever is most convenient in the moment.

As this issue is gaining awareness, we encourage those of you who remain opposed to this dangerously located daycare and who live anywhere in our CLRA neighborhood to sign the CLRA’s petition, including those who filed objections with the Committee of Adjustment earlier this year and to assist in promoting the fact that the residents of the Casa Loma area are in favour of daycare in appropriate and safe locations in the neighbourhood. This includes the public daycare in the proposed Kingsett development.

Our member Nick Saint Martin has been spearheading this file alongside our President Robert Levy. Please feel free to contact either of them for more information.

Contact information: Nick Saint Martin nicholassaintmartin@gmail.com / Robert Levy CLRAToronto@gmail.com

The online petition can be accessed HERE.  Note, we are not soliciting donations and are not raising any funds. There is no need whatsoever to donate to Change.org who is the on-line facilitator of our Petition. Your most important contribution is your voice.

A Message from an epidemiologist and resident in the Casa Loma neighbourhood

You should perceive your entire family to function as a single individual unit; if one person puts themselves at risk, everyone in the unit is at risk.

Seemingly small social chains get large and complex with alarming speed.

If your son visits his girlfriend, and you later sneak over for coffee with a neighbour, your neighbour is now connected to the infected office worker that your son’s girlfriend’s mother shook hands with.

This sounds silly, it’s not.

This is not a joke or a hypothetical.

We as epidemiologists see it borne out in the data time and time again and no one listens.

Conversely, any break in that chain breaks disease transmission along that chain.

In contrast to hand-washing and other personal measures, social distancing measures are not about individuals, they are about societies working in unison.

These measures also take a long time to see the results.

It is hard (even for me) to conceptualize how ‘one quick little get together’ can undermine the entire framework of a public health intervention, but it does.

I promise you it does.

____________________________________

Our first two events of the year have been cancelled because of Covid-19.   Clean Toronto Together scheduled for April 25 and Jane’s Walk scheduled for May 2 will not take place this year.

Take care everyone.

Sidewalk on Melgund to be renovated

The CLRA has been successful in getting the ugly and disfunctional sidewalk on the north side of Melgund Road reconfigured.  Presently, the sidewalk is raised from the street and for that reason there is a metal fence installed between the sidewalk and the street. This has restricted passengers exiting from the right side of vehicles and forces anyone exiting a parked vehicle to walk in the street until reaching a gap in the fence so they can access the sidewalk and Wells Hill Park.  Initially the City was only going to reconfigure the sidewalk to street level along the stretch bordering the renovated and enlarged Wychwood Library.  The City will now level the sidewalk and thereby also remove the fence all the way to Hilton Ave.

Our Councillor, Josh Matlow, has confirmed to us that this work will be completed at the same time Melgund Road is resurfaced later this year.

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