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. Shuter St, 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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auto dealer parking on school site

It’s appropriate to have schools within residential areas, so kids can attend school close to home. School lands are zoned institutional. There are good reasons for the city’s zoning rules, which do not allow commercial activity, such as a large-scale auto dealership activity on land zoned institutional. In 2016, TDSB demolished their school at 20 Regent St (on the north-west corner of Parliament/Shuter). This vacant property, zoned institutional, is now controlled by TCDSB. TCDSB is a sophisticated property owner and is doubtless aware of all Toronto zoning restrictions that affects land use.

Previously a small parking lot for school staff was situated on the south-west corner of the property, with access from Shuter. By 2018, this parking area had been expanded, covered in gravel, and used by an auto dealership for storing cars. In mid-Nov 2023, that gravel parking lot was greatly expanded; it now covers 2/3 of the property, and contains 100+ cars. Many are Audi, Mercedes, BMV; some vehicles are brand new: no licence plates, car windows still covered with protective white film plastic.


20182015  

Use of land zoned institutional for commercial purposes (parking for large auto dealerships) is illegal, and is detrimental to the surrounding residential area; it’s immediately adjacent to new housing that has been constructed as part of the Regent Park, a residential area that the city is working hard to revitalize. Traffic entering/exiting this auto storage lot adds traffic to Shuter St, and conflicts with the separated bike lane.

This illegal use has persisted for 5 years. Let’s see if the city enforces its zoning laws.

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90 Sumach

Why was a 6 story warehouse built in the 1950’s, stuck in behind the historic houses on Sumach and Shuter? As a condo building, has 90 Sumach been a “considerate” neighbour?

90 Sumach, behind houses on Shuter (top) and Sumach (right)1992: looking west to 90 Sumach, from Shuter/River1949: bounded by Shuter (top), Sumach, Queen (bottom), Sackville

How did it happen?

The houses on Shuter St were built in the 1890s. (Originally North Park St, the road was renamed Sydenham St, and then Shuter St.) Where 90 Sumach is now was originally stables for horse-drawn delivery wagons used by Dominion Brewery. (Compare 1949 and 1967 aerial photos.) In 1957, the Rubin Corporation constructed the large 6 storey warehouse at 90 Sumach for the CBC (who used it for 30 years as storage, prop construction and rehearsal space). At a height of 29m, it towers over the surrounding houses. Buildings throughout the city face onto a public street, but 90 Sumach is in the middle of the block bounded by Shuter, Sumach, Queen and Sackville St. This warehouse was built to within 1.3m of its east and north property lines since the builder expected the city to expropriate 1 the surrounding houses. This conflict motivated Trefann Court residents to fight back, successfully, against the city’s 1966 urban renewal plans. The city’s revised plan in 1972 made vague promises that 90 Sumach would be eventually demolished, and replaced with residential housing (see above diagram). That didn’t happen; a 1996 OMB hearing approved All‑Borough Properties’ plan to convert 90 Sumach to a 110 unit residential condo. Units face either north or south, and have a single window (except corner units). A number of restrictions 2 were added to the 1996 site-specific bylaw to minimize conflicts between 90 Sumach and the houses on Shuter and Sumach.

How neighbourly?

This 110 unit condo has significant pooled financial resources. Its owners are anonymous, hidden behind a condo board and aloof property management company. Shuter St residents rarely see 90 Sumach owners: their pedestrian entrance is off Sumach and parking garage entrance is off Queen.

It’s frustrating that 90 Sumach doesn’t consult with surrounding neighbours to get advance feedback on possible changes that may affect Shuter homeowners; 90 Sumach just takes action unilaterally, and then offers vague platitudes 3.

Shared laneway

On the north side of 90 Sumach is a “T” shaped laneway:
• a north-south laneway located between 445 and 459 Shuter (8m wide), and
• a 80m long east-west laneway: parallel to Shuter Street, located behind 439-461 Shuter (3m wide)
Ownership of these laneways is mixed. ln 1957 the builder of 90 Sumach demolished the house at 447 Shuter to create a wider laneway for access to 90 Sumach’s loading dock. Thus 90 Sumach “owns” the 4.93m wide portion (known as “part 3”) of this north-south laneway adjacent to 445 Shuter; Shuter residents have right-of-way over this land. The 2.98m wide eastern side (“part 4”) adjacent to 449 Shuter has been a laneway since the 1890s; it’s an orphan, still registered to George Worrell, who built 449-459 Shuter in 1891. Use of the north-south laneway is shared by Shuter residents and 90 Sumach, and should never be blocked by trucks waiting to access 90 Sumach’s loading dock. Ownership of the 80m? long east-west laneway is also registered to George Worrell; 90 Sumach would have no justification for right-of-way over that portion. The darkly shaded area on the diagram below shows the “T” shaped lands still owned by George Worrell.

Conflicts with 90 Sumach pre‑date Ontario’s conversion to Land Titles 4, so some references here are to Land Registry records.

In 1999, when 90 Sumach was converted to condos, Shuter residents spent $1,320 to have a lawyer register their historic right-of-way over part 3 of the laneway. Right-of-way over the 1.3m strip of land (part 6) on the north side of 90 Sumach was also registered, to give Shuter residents flexibility when parking in rear yards and in the east-west laneway.

Noise and privacy

Houseowners pay a premium to have a backyard for private outdoor amenity space (that extra land increases the cost). On the rare occasion when a neighbour is noisy, the adjacent houseowner likely knows them by name, and can phone or visit in person, and discuss. Not so easy to identify the exact source of late-night noise, when it’s coming from 90 Sumach!

In comparison, a unit-owner in a multi-unit condo building hasn’t paid for a private backyard and so has no expectation of private outdoor space, unless a balcony is permitted. On the north side of 90 Sumach is an 8m wide roof above their parking garage. The bylaw prohibits balconies anywhere on the north side of the building. The 3rd floor condo unit (unit 312) overlooks the section of garage roof which is west of the protruding stairwell. That unit owner got permission from the condo board in 2018 to construct a private outdoor terrace, even though explicitly prohibited by the bylaw. No advance notice was given to adjacent Shuter residents, who, upon observing the terrace construction in Aug 2021, asked the city why the bylaw was ignored. The Committee of Adjustment (CofA) refused unit 312’s request for a retroactive minor variance to allow this terrace. The owner of unit 312 objected, but Shuter residents didn’t have the funds to hire a professional planner to explain reasons why restrictions banning use of the garage roof should remain. Unit 312 hired a lawyer and urban planner to appeal the CofA decision and argue that bylaw restrictions should be ignored; the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) agreed and approved this terrace in Oct 2022. (more details). For Shuter residents, this was a repeat of the 1996 OMB hearing: the party with greater financial resources to hire lawyers and expert witnesses wins, regardless of argument merits. (See above photo: unit 312’s terrace looms over 439-445 Shuter backyards)

Laneway parking

Since the 1980s, Shuter residents have always parked on “part 3” of the laneway while “part 4” provides access to 90 Sumach’s loading dock and to the laneway behind Shuter St houses. In 2016, 90 Sumach proclaimed (via notice affixed to car windshields) that “part 3” would now be for their exclusive use for parking (in spite of bylaw restrictions on any increase in their outdoor parking 2). Several Shuter residents protested to 90 Sumach, and expended considerable time and $370 in lawyer fees: to refute 90 Sumach’s claim for “full and exclusive use of the laneway” and to ensure that 90 Sumach recognized shared laneway ownership 5 as described above. After further communication from 90 Sumach, and an in-person meeting, they finally backed down.

The condo owns less than 1/3 of the area of the laneway, yet they had the entire “T” shaped laneway paved in 1999, with no prior warning. Again in 2023, the condo abruptly announced they would repave all of these laneways again; Shuter residents who park in their backyards or behind their homes were told find their own alternative parking for 4 days.

Notes

  1. Expropriation:
    “The warehouse, while under construction, was advertised with a large billboard which showed the building surrounded by landscaped green space stretching north to Shuter St where there was in fact a row of houses.” (Gordon Fraser: Fighting Back, 1972; page 65)
    “Buildings recommended for acquisition and clearance. The inclusion of houses from 439 to 463 Shuter St [for expropriation] provides the land necessary to satisfy the parking requirements of the CBC.” (City of Toronto Planning Board: Trefann Court Urban Renewal Scheme, Oct 1966; page 11)
  2.  

  3. Section 1 of the 90 Sumach site-specific bylaw contains restrictions to address concerns of privacy and overlook of, and possible conflict with, neighbouring properties:
    (6) no balconies on north or east building face, or the north side of the west face
    (8) no more than 22 outdoor parking spaces [see plan: 13 visitor parking on east side, 9 employee parking on west side]
    (12) at least 1,078 m2 of landscaped open space
    (14) no doors to the garage roof
    (23) 5 metre setback of rooftop amenity space, on north and east sides of the building
    (24) garage roof used for maintenance only (i.e. no patios or outdoor amenity space)
    (25) use of laneway to loading dock for moving in/moving out only
    (26-28) frosted glass in selected locations
  4.  

  5. Communications from 90 Sumach:
    “We want to first note that the owners of MTCC 1235 [90 Sumach] wish to continue to have a good relationship with its surrounding neighbours” (May 31, 2016)
    “The Board has determined that there is no real benefit … in alienating our valued neighbours.” (July 4, 2016)
  6.  

  7. “For a long time, Ontario had two systems of property registration: the Registry System and The Land Titles System. The Ontario Registry Act created the registry system and came into effect in 1795. It was the sole land registry system until the Land Titles Act came into effect in 1885. In the 1990s, the Ontario government began to phase out the registry system and convert all registrations to land titles. In the 1990s, the government created the Province of Ontario Land Registration Information System (POLARIS) to facilitate the automation of the land registration system.” (source: RBF website)
  8.  

  9. In 2016, a lawyer hired by Shuter homeowners researched ownership of the various parts of the laneway, and also offered to register right-of-way (ROW) on Shuter homeowners’ property titles. A previous lawyer registered this ROW on 90 Sumach’s property title only (since in 1999 it was unclear how to update the old Land Registry system to register ROW on title for the Shuter homeowners.)
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developments – Queen River (Oct 2023)

This is the area east of River St, between Queen and Dundas. The secondary plan for this area was revised in 2020 to permit more tall buildings.

  • 111 River (at Dundas, “River Condos”, developer Lifetime Developments, 34 storey)
    Dec 2019 – preliminary planning report
    Urbantoronto project description
    “River Condos” not listed on developer’s website
    existing buildings not yet demolished
     
  • 5 Defries St (“River & Fifth”, developer Broccolini, 37 storey)
    Nearing completion (shown in photos above, and right); located just south of the Mercedes dealership: 1 block S of Dundas, 1 block E of River (site is bounded by Mark St, Bayview, Labatt and Defries). This development is supposed to include pedestrian/cycle path leading down the slope of the Don Valley at the rear of the property to Bayview Avenue that will connect to a new sidewalk to be constructed along Bayview Avenue.
    Urbantoronto project description and construction photos
    June 2018 planning report
    developer’s website
     
  • 93 River (at Labatt, “The Riv”, developer Broccolini, 34 storey)
    (The full address is “83-97 River Street and 2-4 Labatt Avenue”, ie. the north-east corner.)
    Jan 2020 – Urbantoronto
    Sept 2021 – city legal report (recommending settlement)
    Dec 2021 LPAT approval
    pre-sales underway (previously marketed as Leftbank)
    developer’s website
     
  • 77 River (at Shuter, Salvation Army site, developer TAS, 38 storey)
    Dec 2016 – City Council approval (The full address is “77 River Street and 7 Labatt Avenue”, ie. the south-east corner.)
    developer’s plans
    Urbantoronto project description
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developments – Oct 2023

(The previous summary was Jan 2022 and includes links to city planning reports etc).
Details on development proposals which have been submitted to the city can be found on the Development Applications map (filter by ward, then zoom in on the map)

  • 187 Parliament (Thrifty car rental site, 11 storey)
    plans include 6,000 square feet indoor and outdoor event space on the 11th floor
    Now under construction

    April 2023187 Parliament, Aug 2022

     
  • 471-479 Queen East (between Bright and Sumach, developer Brad Lamb, 15 storey)
    This development was approved with minor changes by OLT in April 2023 (good luck using a street address to lookup a decision on the OLT website!) Soil testing on site was underway in Sept 2023.
    See pages 3-4 of the OLT decision. Required changes include:
    • above level 14, the 2.5 metre setback from the south elevation was moved to the north elevation to decrease the massing facing Queen St
    • vehicular access will no longer be provided from Queen St. Inbound and outbound vehicular access will be provided from Sumach Street.
     
  • 252 Parliament (Salvation Army store site, developer Core, 9 storey)
    Urbantoronto project description
    This project is shown on the architect’s website, no details on the developer’s website.
     
  • 28 River (Beer store site, just north of Queen, 15 storey)
    The current owner is apparently looking to sell the site to someone else to develop (see details)
     
  •  

  • 351-353 Queen East (SE corner of Parliament/Queen, developer ONE Properties, 27 storeys)
    Shoppers drug store closed Sept 7, 2023; when existing buildings will be cleared from the site is unknown. The developer applied to Committee of Adjustment on Oct 4 to remove the planned supermarket space and add 1 floor (now 28 storey)
    Urbantoronto project summary
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Shuter St crosswalks upgraded to traffic lights

An earlier post identified our concerns with Toronto Traffic Management’s June 2022 report, which recommended to “not authorize the installation of traffic control signals”. Fortunately, our interim city councillor overruled Toronto Traffic, and traffic lights at Sumach and Sackville were approved by Community Council (TEYCC) in June 2022. These traffic lights were installed this summer, and activated on Aug 10 (Sumach) and Sept 7 (Sackville), resulting in improved safety for pedestrians, and possibly reducing traffic speed. Shuter speed limit is 30 km/h, and Watch Your Speed (WYS) signs are still in place.

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Ontario Line – Corktown walking tour

An “invitation-only” meeting on Aug 11 was revealed in a recent Metrolinx (MX) newsletter (no mention on Corktown, West Don Lands or our city councillor’s websites)

“Metrolinx hosted its first walking tour with the West Don Lands Committee (WDLC). The two hour tour kicked-off at the Corktown Common and concluded at the future Corktown Station, to be located at King and Berkley. Participants had an opportunity to ask questions about upcoming early works in the Don Yard, and traffic and pedestrian safety near Mill St. Next steps will include establishing a Construction Liaison Committee (CLC) for the Corktown Station, where members will have an opportunity to provide input.”

Some highlights from MX’s handout:

  • tunnelling starts second half of 2024
  • southbound curb lane of Parliament (south of King) to be closed for 7 years
  • tunnel excavation typically performed on a 20 to 24-hour basis, 5 days a week
  • when not tunnelling (typically 1-4 hours per 24-hour period), there will be maintenance activities, requiring some equipment at the surface to be operating (“ie. more noise”)

Below illustration shows immediately south of Corktown Common, where Ontario Line will emerge from the tunnel, to cross the Don River at grade.

Update (Jan 2023)
Metrolinx has liaison committees for the Ontario Line Corktown and Sherbourne stations.
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development – 28 River

The original proposal for a 15-storey building 28 River Street (the Beer Store site) was opposed 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 (18-storey), 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, look at the plans, and decide whether they agree the impact on their neighbourhood will be acceptable.

Update (Oct 2023)
A recent commercial real estate marketing video seems to suggest that the current owner is looking to sell the site to someone else to develop; due date for offers was July 11, 2023. The plan shown below was approved by the city; if/when development proceeds, these plans may change. As of Oct 2023, Toronto Planning staff’s June 2022 report is still confidential; only the instructions portion of that report is now public.


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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 from the WYS sign which monitors 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.”

Update (Sept 2022)
The Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) device on Shuter St east of Sackville St began live enforcement on April 21, 2022. Here are the number of charges for this location so far: April = 493. May = 1,391. June = 1,480. July = 1,841
As time passes, one would hope that more drivers would notice ASE signage or actual ASE device, and moderate their speed. Yet for every complete month, the # of charges have increased each month! Is someone is considering whether the fine amount is too low? It doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. (This ASE camera was removed Nov 1.)

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

  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 1960s when it was 4 lanes, 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 a variety of techniques 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 (compare 2009 and 2022)
  3. The city didn’t study whether the 2020 road changes (protected bike lane etc) changed the frequency of accidents (report, page 7); maybe this redesign has increased accident frequency? 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? Our analysis of recent WYS data is discouraging.

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 this infrastructure is 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. These photos were submitted to 311 (June 1) and to the city councillor (June 16); no response from either of them.

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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