Welcome!

Welcome to the website for the Trefann Court Residents Association.

This website is maintained as a historic record of developments and changes affecting this neighbourhood. Scroll down to read the newest posts, or use menu links:
– to choose posts for a particular category eg. Regent Park, or
– for a list of all posts, by year (“latest posts“).
For most images on this site, clicking will display a larger version.

The Trefann Court Association hasn’t been active for several years, but it could be re-started anytime there are several local residents who are interested and want to get involved. Some new items of local interest are still being added to this site.

Email us with your comments or questions.

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Development – 28 River

The original proposal for a 15-storey building 28 River Street (the Beer Store site) was apposed by city planning in March 2017, since “it does not comply with Official Plan policies with regard to an appropriate transition in scale between a Mixed-Use Area and a Neighbourhood. The proposed development would cause excessive negative impact on the existing adjacent townhouses located on Wascana Avenue and River Street and represents overdevelopment of the site.

On May 2, city planning hosted a a community meeting to consider a revised proposal, which “includes the property at 550 Queen Street East in order to allow the building height and massing to be moved away from the townhouses on Wascana Avenue toward the Queen Street frontage”. Approval was quickly recommended by the city lawyer on June 8. Analysis of the Revised Proposal by Planning Staff and Heritage Planning Staff is still confidential and not available to the public! This proposal has already been approved by Toronto City Council on June 15, conditional on receiving $2.5mm payment of Section 37 money. Wascana residents can read this development description and look at the plans, and decide whether they agree the impact on their neighbourhood will be acceptable.

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Shuter crosswalk safety – disappointing city response

In response to community concerns, the city promptly reduced the Shuter St speed limit to 30 km/h in Jan 2022, and posted “speed camera coming soon” signs. An Automated Speed Enforcement camera was installed in mid April.

Watch Your Speed (WYS) signs display the speed of vechicles as they pass by. See right for a summary of WYS data for eastbound Shuter St traffic for the first 6 months 0f 2022 (also see detailed analysis). Since the introduction of a speed enforcement camera in April, speeds have reduced, but still 18% of vehicles are exceeding the speed limit by 10+ km/h. (It would be informative to compare these # to detailed data from the speed camera, if the city will provide that data.) WYS data was previously analyzed in Oct 2021. Still no data available for westbound traffic. Updates from city staff:
Dec 3, 2021: “For some reason the sign at 440 Shuter hasn’t produced data since mid-April 2021 and we are looking into that.”
Aug 4, 2022: “the Westbound one on Shuter, is actually not reporting data in 2022, so I will look into why that might be.”

The community petition also requested improvements at Shuter & Sackville and Shuter & Sumach intersections, because of safety concerns of pedestrians at these crosswalks. This was considered by the city in Nov 2021. Toronto Traffic Management published a disappointing report in June 2022, containing several deficiencies:

  1. Traffic counts indicate that Shuter St has less than the minimum # cars to be considered a minor arterial. Report (page 3): “The daily two-way traffic volume is approximately 7,000 vehicles.” A “minor arterial” designation for Shuter St made sense in 1960, but Shuter St is now 2 lane, with a 30 km/h speed limit; does it still make sense to categorize Shuter as a minor arterial? If categorized as a local road or a collector road, then other alternatives could be considered to improve safety at Sackville and Sumach intersections. City definition of road categories (PDF, page 5): Minor Arterial Roads – Volume (vehicle/day): 8,000 – 20,000.
  2. Report (page 7): “Toronto has installed parking protected cycle tracks with improved safety and comfort results.” The city is forcing this design everywhere (bike lane to the right of parked cars), but based on experience during the past year from local Shuter St residents, this design causes excessive visibility problems, when there are parked cars and many vehicle entry points. Where the parking is located on the south side of Shuter, for the short section from Parliament to Sumach: there are 3 streets (Tracy, Sackville, Sumach), 2 public laneways (Anna Hilliard Lane, Paterson Place) and 2 private laneways (425 Shuter, 447 Shuter). It’s now more difficult for vehicles to safely enter Shuter from side streets, laneways, driveways: check first for cyclists, then try and see around parked cars to check for oncoming vehicles. See below for photo of private laneway near 449 Shuter (2009 vs today)
  3. The city didn’t study whether the 2020 road changes (protected bike lane etc) changed the frequency of accidents (report, page 7); maybe accident frequency has increased? Report should review # accidents for the period 2018-2019, compared to 2021 – 2022 (ie. 2 years prior, and 2 years after, road changes)
  4. Report (page 4): “staff consider an environmental checklist which includes: consideration of road width, posted speed limit, operating speeds, … However, the report does not provide any details on actual operating speeds. Speed limit was reduced to 30 km/h in Dec 2021; what change has been measured in operating speeds ?

20222009

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protected bike lane on Shuter St – 20 months later

Curbs for Shuter St protected bike lane were installed in Sept 2020, so still less than 2 years old. The plastic bollards are flimsy, but let’s see how well the concrete curbs/steel posts have survived.
Photos when biking west on Shuter, from River to Church (19 in total):

Photos when biking east on Shuter, from Church to River (22 in total):

Photos are geotagged, if the city / 311 wants detailed locations.

Considerable damage: cracked/broken curbs, curbs tilted/moved by trucks and snow removal equipment, metal spikes used to retain the curbs exposed (would hurt if you fell on one), yellow/black warning signs on islands dislodged, bent or missing. Think these will get fixed anytime soon? Maybe Toronto needs to use more durable construction for its protected bike lanes.

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developments – Jan 2022

A summary of proposed and approved developments in our area; click on the links for more details about each development. This entry will be updated as more info becomes available.

If you have concerns about how a development will affect the neighbourhood (such as privacy/overlook of nearby low-rise residential), you may find it informative to review information for other east-downtown developments listed here, which may have agreed to some design changes, to mitigate their impact.

  • 28 River (Beer store site, just north of Queen, 15 storey)
    Jan 2017 – Urbantoronto
    March 2017 – planning report (recommending refusal)
    OMB – latest hearing June 2020 was cancelled.
    Ownership of this property has changed at least 3 times since 2017: 28 River Street Holdings Limited, then 2594481 Ontario Limited, then 1979351 Ontario Inc.
     
  • 187 Parliament (Thrifty car rental site, 11 storey)
    Jan 2017 – Urbantoronto
    March 2017 – preliminary planning report (NB.rear portion of the proposed building would be located within land zoned “Neighbourhoods” and would exceedheight the four height storey limit in the Official Plan.)
    June 2018 – final planning report (recommending approval)
    July 2018 – City Council approval
    May 2019 – Urbantoronto
     

Corktown

Proposed developments for Queen St and River St, on the borders of Trefann Court. (See link for 28 Eastern (developer Alterra), at Sackville)


June 3, 2020June 2, 2020April 27, 2018

Cabbagetown South

A number of condo developments are also planned for this nearby neighbourhood:

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Toronto development process


Every day, it seems there is another proposal for a new condo in downtown Toronto. The councillor’s website shows development proposals in Ward 13, or this city-wide Development Applications map can be filtered by ward.

Here is an overview of Toronto’s development approval process (using 471‑479 Queen E as an example). A flowchart (see right) shows the typical sequence of steps; for a detailed description, see the “review process” section on the city’s website. In summary:

  1. Prior to submitting a formal application, a developer may choose to discuss their proposal with Toronto Planning and the local councillor. (This “pre-application consultation” will become mandatory in Toronto as of Nov 2022. For more details, see here.) New developments often require an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) and/or zoning bylaw amendment. In some areas of the city, the land use guidelines in Toronto’s Official Plan are augmented by more detailed plans, such as the King-Parliament secondary plan.
  2. Developer submits to the city their formal application, which includes a number of documents, such as the developer’s planning rationale: why they think the proposed building’s height and overall size is justified. Another important document for downtown developments is the Heritage Impact Assessment. At this time, developer may have already publicized the proposed project to the public, on websites such as urbantoronto or blogto.
    Note that 90 day after submitted a complete application to the city, the developer can decide to bypass Toronto’s planning process and appeal directly to the province’s OLT (see step 8).
  3. A public notice is posted at the development site, to give the community an overview of the proposed development and a source for more information eg. http://toronto.ca/471QueenStE.
  4. City planner writes a preliminary report which is submitted to Community Council.
  5. A public information meeting is held, so the local community can ask questions, and offer verbal comments to the city planner, local councillor and developer. This mandatory public meeting is the only “face-to-face” meeting the developer is obligated to have with local stakeholders. At any time, residents may also voice concerns via phone or email, directly to the planner, city councillor or to Community Council.
  6. Based on feedback from the city and the public, the developer may revise their plans. Some developers may agree to a series of consultation meetings with a community working group, to try and address specific concerns.
  7. City planner prepares a final report with recommendations, which is submitted to Community Council and then to City Council, for a decision.
  8. If the application is refused by the city, or if the city’s review takes more than 90 days, the developer may appeal to Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), which can override Toronto city planning. Affluent members of the public may also appeal unfavourable development decisions to the OLT. Becoming an active party in an OLT hearing entails an $1,100 fee, hiring expert witnesses (planners, transportation experts etc) as well as legal counsel. Prior to the start of OLT hearings, the city and developer may have confidential negotiations to try and agree on changes which would reduce the proposed development’s negative impacts on the community. Otherwise, the city may retain legal and expert witness to oppose the developer at OLT.
  9. Once a development has been approved (by City Council or OLT), but before construction starts, the city’s “site plan control” process happens; this will sometimes allows final community input to the developer on details such as exterior cladding, landscaping etc. One example was the Oben Flats development at the corner of Sherbourne and Gerrard.

Notes:

  • A revised King-Parliament secondary plan was approved by City Council in 2021, but is “not yet in full force and effect” since has been appealed to the OLT. As a result, so “parts” of the 2017 version remains in force. Other secondary plans include Regent Park and Queen-River.
  • 28 Eastern (developer Alterra) is an example of pre-LPAT/OLT negotiations: the Nov 2016 preliminary planning report was “neutral”, a revised April 2018 planning report recommended approval but May 2018 city council disagreed (see TE32.20). Following confidential negotiations, April 2019 City Council recommended approval; this negotiated May 2019 settlement with the developer Alterra was approved by OLT, avoiding a full hearing.
  • From the city’s development approval webpage: “Section 37 of the Planning Act authorizes the City, through rezoning, to increase height and/or density beyond what is otherwise permitted in the Zoning By-law in return for facilities, services or matters provided by the owner, referred to as community benefits.” However, payment of Section 37 funds is changing: “Municipal growth-related infrastructure funding tools, such as Section 37 contributions, Section 42 parkland dedication, and a portion of the development charges are proposed to be replaced with a Community Benefits Charge”.
  • Another method used by the province to override municipal planning is to issue MZOs (Minister’s Zoning Orders); an MZO was issued for the local Dominion Foundry site.

Further reading:

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Watch Your Speed !

Watch Your Speed (WYS) signs are part of Toronto’s Vision Zero program: to “improve safety across our city using a data-driven and targeted approach, focusing on the locations where improvements are most needed”. WYS signs are solar-powered digital displays which show motorists the speed their vehicles are traveling, in order to encourage them to slow down. In Toronto, as of Dec 2021, there were 450 WYS sign locations (signs listed as currently active, ie. no end date). Signs listed for Ward 13: 83, 90 Alexander Street; 5 Maitland Place; 395, 446 Queen Street East; 80 Sackville Street; 417, 437, 444 Sherbourne Street

Most of Toronto’s WYS signs display vehicle speeds from 7am-9pm; however, all signs are collecting speed data 24 hours each day (assuming that their solar-powered batteries retain sufficient power). And all of that data is publicly accessible on Toronto’s Open Data website.

Approximately one year ago, two WYC signs were installed near Nelson Mandela School: a sign near 440 Shuter tracks westbound traffic; near 437 Shuter is a sign monitoring eastbound traffic. In Nov 2021 I asked why the Shuter WYS signs weren’t included in the city’s list of sign locations. The city’s reply: “You have discovered an issue with our data pipeline that is preventing new School Zone signs from having their data published to OpenData.”

I assumed that these Shuter WYS signs were still collecting data (even though that data isn’t shown online in the city’s “Detailed Speed Counts” file), so I requested “detailed” data, for Oct 2021, for the two WYS signs near Nelson Mandela School. Another problem! The city advised me: “For some reason the sign at 440 Shuter hasn’t produced data since mid-April 2021 and we are looking into that.”

An analysis of Oct 2021 data found an average of 1227 vehicles daily travelling eastbound were recorded by one WYS sign: 34.7% vehicles exceeded 40 km/h; an additional 4.6% (or 56 vehicles daily, on average) exceeded 50 km/h. Fastest records for the month: 47 vehicles travelling 60+ km/h, 6 travelling 65+ and 2 travelling 70+. Unlikely these were all police, fire or EMS vehicles answering emergency calls!

As a result of a petition submitted by Shuter St residents, the city agreed on Nov 24 to reduce the speed limit to 30 km/h on Shuter Street between Yonge Street and River Street, “as soon as possible”

A few months after the 30 km/h signs appear, I’ll analyze the latest WYS sign data.

Update (Aug 2022):
WYS data for eastbound Shuter St traffic for the first 6 months 0f 2022
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Shuter St design – how well does it work?

Shuter St, from Sherbourne to River, was completely reconstructed in 2020. This roadwork was long overdue; for many years, he pavement was uneven, bumpy, full of potholes, poorly patched. Also in 2020, Toronto put a protected bike lane on Shuter: bikes travel next to the curb/sidewalk, separated by a concrete curb from parked cars to the left.

One year later: how is this road design working? From Sherbourne to Parliament, Shuter St and its bike lanes appear to function well, with few conflicts. On the north side of Shuter, all of the cross-roads are one-way, leading away from Shuter. Moss Park Apartments occupies the entire block on the south; only 2 entrances on the south side of Shuter.

However, on Shuter from Parliament to River, there are numerous lanes, and most cross-roads are two-way, resulting in lots of vehicular traffic entering Shuter. These vehicles need to proceed with extreme caution to avoid pedestrians on the sidewalk; drivers also must check for oncoming traffic in 2 different locations: in the bike lane and then the roadway. Drivers cannot see oncoming Shuter vehicles since visibility blocked by cars parked on Shuter. To further challenge motorists, street directions change: Sackville St is one-way north (Queen to Shuter), then two-way, (Shuter to Dundas), then one-way south (Dundas to Wellesley). Similarly, Sumach St is one-way south (Shuter to King), then two-way (Shuter to Gerrard), then one-way north (Gerrard to Wellesley). No surprise that accidents occur (see June 20 photo of Sackville/Shuter).

Traffic on Shuter St seems to have increased, partly because there are no traffic lights or streetcars (unlike on Queen or Dundas). This makes Shuter more desirable for motorists; some vehicles greatly exceed the 40 km speed limit, especially late at night. The bike lane is also busy; lots of “near misses” when persons cross the bike lane when walking from their parked cars to the sidewalk, or when pedestrians momentarily step into the bike lane to avoid sidewalk obstacles (garbage bins) or groups of other pedestrians. The bike lane can be problematic for other cyclists since fast-moving e-bikes and e-scooters often use the bike lane illegally, even more dangerous when they travel in the wrong direction! This design – a confined bike lane, fenced in by parked cars – is not a solution preferred by all cyclists.

Since the amount of street parking on Shuter was reduced, Canada Post and other delivery vehicles often stop and block the bike lane, in spite of its “protected” design. A big problem with all bike lanes in Toronto is the total lack of police enforcement, to keep cars from obstructing cyclists. For several blocks of Shuter St, there is no longer any parking in front of houses, so how can those residents hire a moving van or have new furniture delivered, without blocking the bike lane? No problem for city operations though; garbage trucks frequently drive over (and damage) the reflective bollards and concrete curbs, while obstructing the bike lane.

Sept 23, 3:12pmSept 24, 7:52am
Some parking on Shuter was eliminated to allow a large (100 metre) loading area for school buses to safely co-exist with the “protected” bike lane. A safe design in theory, but not in practice since bus operators ignore signs and pavement markings, which delimit the zone for buses. Every weekday, morning and evening, a school bus blocks the bike lane unnecessarily, forcing cyclists into the westbound car lane. Unsafe!

For the past 20 years, Shuter has been restricted to 2 lanes, and 40 km speed. The introduction of protected bike lanes has further narrowed and complicated the roadway. There is a significant number of residential homes which front onto Shuter. Isn’t this part of Shuter really a residential street, and not a major arterial road like Queen and Dundas? The city should consider traffic calming measures for Shuter: traffic lights, 4 way stops, speed bumps.

After 12 months of experience, the city’s 2020 re-design of Shuter St gets a 5 / 10; barely a pass!

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Regent Park bike rings – from bad to worse

Secure posts for locking a bike are important public infrastructure, if the city wants to encourage more persons to cycle. (Especially now, given rampant levels of bike theft in Toronto).

Toronto’s original bike ring was designed in 1984, and a large number were installed in 2000. By 2006 the city realized that this un-reinforced single-ring design was easily vandalized (and bikes stolen), so the city developed a reinforced design (see history of Toronto’s bike rings). The city has replaced some, but not all of the old single-ring style posts.

Nov 2020April 2019
Given these successive design improvements, we were disappointed to see in 2019 that Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) and the Daniels Corporation were still installing the obsolete, easily vandalized “single” ring design (twelve years! after serious flaws noted with this design). However, a photo and complaint sent to the city and to TCHC in April 2019 about these flawed bike rings didn’t result in any changes.

This month, an even less secure bike ring appeared in Regent Park (see photo, above right).

Widespread provision of enough secure bike parking in Toronto simply doesn’t appear to be a high priority. The city has numerous types of bike parking, but apparently no recent guidelines for the implementation of each type, and no periodic surveys to determine specific areas of the city where there is an unmet demand for bike parking (The city’s website has a link to a 2008 document Guidelines for Bicycle Parking Facilities.) The city started work on a Bike Parking Strategy in 2016, which was expected to be completed by 2019. To date, no draft reports have been made public. The bike parking strategy seems to be “on hold”; in Jan 2020 the city’s project manager said they “can’t give a date on when it will be finished.”

Cycle Toronto’s Bike Parking working group was initiated in Sept 2016, and met monthly for a few years, but apparently it has not produced any deliverables. In 2018, one group member inventoried types of bike rings currently found in Toronto.

The city has fastidiously documented the location (but not current repair status) of 17,500+ bike rings located on city property (see map), although this map isn’t current (eg. bike rings on the SW corner of Sumach & Shuter not shown). A volunteer community-built app demonstrates how problems could be reported (eg. broken/insecure ring). Repair requests can already be reported to 311 via email; tracking and timely resolution of these requests would be really useful.

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deficiency in new Shuter St bike lane

The new Shuter St bike lane is almost completely protected with curbs and bollards. But just west of Sumach, there is a 100m section of the westbound bike lane which is unprotected, to give access to a 35m school bus loading zone adjacent to the curb, on the north side of Shuter St. But because of a curve in the road (exaggerated by the schoolbus loading zone) and the new narrower car lanes, westbound vehicles frequently intrude into the bike lane as they navigate the curve. “Smoothing the curve” instead of slowing down, is totally natural behaviour by car drivers, which is why having the bike lane unprotected where the road curves, isn’t great.

 Nov 6 (above); Nov 26 (below)
In 2020, this is not the level of safety that cyclists hope for in a protected bike lane. On Nov 25, the contractor installed a few concrete curbs immediately west of the crosswalk, which reduces the problem somewhat. But re-locating the school bus loading zone to the western end of the school where the road is straight, would be a simple change and should reduce the number of motor vehicles intruding into the bike lane. Or move the bus loading to a very accessible, quiet side street: even better and would permit curbs/bollards to protect the entire length of the bike lane!

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