TCHC in the West Don Lands

589 King Street EastToronto Community Housing is planning a 3 building development in the West Don Lands: 589 King Street East (south east corner of King Street East and St. Lawrence Street). An eight storey 128 unit building fronting on King Street is designed for seniors. Two four-story buildings will provide 115 rental housing units for families.

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Rebuilding Regent Park – an independent view

[Ryan Kohls is a student in Ryerson’s Masters in Journalism programme. Ryan’s blog contains other writings.]

As Regent Park enters the second, and largest, phase of its $1 billion facelift, some nearby residents and at least one expert fear that history is about to repeat itself. The 15-year revitalization project, which consists of six phases, is beginning its southward expansion. With development approaching Shuter Street and the Corktown neighbourhood, residents are voicing their concerns.

“If you look at what’s happening in the city today the mayor’s saying cut back 10 per cent on everything,” says Bill Eadie, a resident of Shuter Street since 1983. “They seem to be good at getting money to demolish and build new buildings, but I don’t think they’ve considered how they’ll maintain it 10 years from now.”

When it was first constructed in the 1940s, Regent Park was the largest social housing experiment in Canadian history with all tenants occupying subsidized housing. But maintenance of the buildings lagged, and as the site rotted so too did the community. Crime and drugs trafficking increased. The revitalization, which began in 2004, aims to lower the proportion of subsidized housing to 44 per cent while adding condominiums and townhouses at market prices. “Toronto Community Housing’s vision for revitalization goes beyond replacing housing,” said Kyle Rooks, the media relations consultant for Toronto Community Housing. “Our goal is to transform communities to build great neighbourhoods for everyone, based on the tried and true mixed-income approach that is so successful elsewhere in Toronto.”
Continue reading

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Regent Park dirt

Look at these photos; our neighbourhood continues to get “substandard” service from the city. If they were considerate of the existing Trefann Court residents, TCHC and the City of Toronto would be making more effort to promptly clean construction dirt from streets surrounding the Regent Park re-construction, without repeated requests from residents.

Private construction sites:

  • have staff who immediately shovel / sweep mud from the street access to their construction sites
  • install “barrier cloth” to prevent dirt from clogging the sewers

Why doesn’t the city expect the same from TCHC? See photos taken Oct 12-13.

For the past month:

  • the sewer at the north-west corner of Sackville and Shuter has been clogged with mud
  • as a result, the street remains flooded for a week after each rainfall, and the sidewalk is impassible to pedestrians
  • the street hasn’t been washed, so passing motorists create clouds of dust, and accumulated dirt makes the bike lane unsafe
  • when street was washed in the past, mud just accumulated at the side of the road, since parked cars, and inadequate parking restrictions prevent sweeping all sections of the street
  • today, the dirt is 3-4 inches thick, on the road at the construction entrance immediately west of Nelson Mandella School

Two hours after Trefann contacted TCHC and Councillor McConnell about this problem, a street sweeping machine was at work on Shuter St. But TCHC’s site supervisor should be taking the initiative to promptly remedy such problems, without requiring ongoing complaints from Shuter St residents.

Posted in city services, development, Regent Park | 1 Comment

Busy Beavers

If you have a large enough machine, you can chop down trees so quickly, that almost no one will notice. Regent Street is to be retained as part of the “New and Improved” Regent Park; too bad the city doesn’t follow the same rules as a private developer (who would be obligated to save some of these mature, healthy trees which line the street). Instead, they were swiftly “axed” on May 16. (See article in May 17th Toronto Star.) The city’s 2007 official plan contains this amusing “doublespeak”: “Redevelopment of Regent Park will provide for the retention and relocation of existing trees where possible”. Doubtless there is a “Green Canopy Master Plan” as part of the Regent Park Rebuilding Scheme, but it will still take 50-60 years before there are trees of comparable size to these ones.

(click on the above image to view larger version)

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BIA? – up to local businesses

As a course project, a team of Ryerson undergrad students recently studied the “opportunities for enhancement of the public realm, a strengthened business base, and a safer community for Corktown”. As one of the few Trefann Court residents who attended the students’ April 13 presentation; I was shocked to hear that one of their suggestions was a new BIA (business improvement area) for Corktown: the area bounded by Berkley, Queen, River, King and Eastern / Front Streets. Call it “Son of Queen East BIA” – will this be another horror story? Long-time Trefann and Corktown residents may know some of the seamy history of a previous BIA attempt; I’d like to share my recollections. (In writing this, I couldn’t easily find any information on the website about the 2007 BIA, but at least Google provides a few links. For further BIA details, check the Trefann email list, circa 2006 – 2007.)

A significant portion of the $15,000 of Section 37 money given to the city by Shoppers Drug Mart (for permission to build their store at Queen+Parliament) was spent in 2006 on a brochure promoting concept of a Queen East BIA. An organization that I thought was already defunct by this time – QUEBRA – publicly endorsed the BIA, along with the CRBA. It was rumoured that one CRBA board member who was promoting the BIA was simultaneously jockeying to become the paid staff person for this new BIA.

Most informed Toronto residents know that downtown Queen Street East does not have a strong retail community. Within the boundaries of the proposed 2006 BIA – Queen St, from Victoria St to River St- one finds a large hospital, a city-owned parking garage, a large military facility, a park, 2 churches, a school, TCHC housing, private homes, some men’s hostels, and several social agencies. In total, this accounts for at least 50% of the frontage along Queen and would all be exempt from paying any BIA levy. So the remaining private businesses along this 1.5 km stretch of Queen East would have to carry the full financial burden of a BIA. (There were, and still are, numerous vacant storefronts on Queen East; it’s unclear whether they would be assessed “reduced rate” BIA fees).

It was frustrating that the city allowed only a very short period of time for local businesses to vote whether they wanted a BIA. Many businesses voted “no”, but 153 of these 190 “no” votes were deemed invalid by the city, since some property owners didn’t provide the city with a list of official building tenants. Another peculiar tactic was the city’s “negative billing”-like to BIA voting: businesses who didn’t vote were counted as “yes” votes. We reported these irregularities to the City Auditor, but didn’t receive any feedback. The city simply claimed that there were sufficient “yes” votes to approve creation of this BIA. Continue reading

Posted in business, politics | 3 Comments

from all sides

You likely know that Google Maps will display satellite photos (as well as street views).  One nice feature of Bing aerial photos is the ability to view from several different angles. (when using “angled views”). To demonstrate, here are four photos of 90 Sumach taken from Bing:

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Old Toronto

If you live in one of Trefann Court’s older houses, and are curious about its history, fire insurance plans are one source of information. These plans provide detailed information about buildings and neighbourhoods. They can be used to determine when a building was built or demolished, details of building materials, position of building on lot, lot and address numbers, and lot sizes and shapes. Fire insurance plans were originally compiled by mapmakers and leased to insurance companies, who used the information about building sizes and construction materials to determine the fire risk and therefore the cost of insurance premiums. Toronto resident Charles E. Goad and his company created the plans from 1880 to 1916.

1899 Goad's fire planSome of these plans are available online: for example, Goad’s 1899 plan.

Here is a closeup of Goads Fire Insurance Plan for 1899. Older homes along Shuter and Sumach are clearly visible. See Sydenham Street (now Shuter), Dominion Brewery, Wascana, Davies Brewing, Don Brewery.

1876 mapHere is “Bird’s Eye View of Toronto, 1876″, from the University of Toronto’s collection. In this closeup, Queen, River, Sumach, Bright and Power Streets are visible. This map shows a church at Queen and Power, the predecessor to the current stone church on that site, built in the 1890s.

Davies Brewing, 1876Davies Brewing is one of the illustrations shown in the margin of this 1876 map.

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Regent Park: March 2011

block numbering for Regent Park redevelopment
Regent Park planned completion, as of 2012

On March 17, several Shuter residents met with TCHC staff, to get an update on the status of Regent Park phase 2 development.  According to TCHC:

  • 444 existing units to be demolished during phase 2 (demolition almost complete)
  • reconstruction to be completed by Q4 2015
  • construction to start near Dundas, then move south, block by block, to Shuter
  • rental (ie. RGI and affordable units) planned for block 20, block 22
  • condo (ie. market-priced units) planned for block 21
  • construction has begun on the aquatic centre, estimated cost is $13 million, to be completed by Q4 2011
  • community centre to be built on block 38, for an estimated cost of $27 million, to be completed by Q4 2012
  • school renovation to be completed by Q4 2012
  • TCHC stated they had not yet made any decision for the development of block 23 (whether condo or rental) for another 6 months; possible that it might be condo (since quota for RGI for phase 2 may have already been satisfied via development of other blocks).  Block 23 is zoned for 22 meter height (8 stories), significantly higher than the existing 2-3 story rowhouses across the street in Trefann Court.
  • existing housing on block 36 hasn’t yet been demolished; TCHC doesn’t have any definite plans for renewal of this block

Thanks to Claudio on Shuter St for making this meeting happen; thanks also to TCHC staff for a very informative presentation and discussion.  The Trefann Court Association looks forward to ongoing information sharing meetings with TCHC.

Posted in development, Regent Park | 1 Comment

Regent Park: Feb 2011

Here is an official summary of Regent Park redevelopment:

In case the above links no longer work, here is a copy of those pages, as of Feb 18, 2011:  about and building profiles.

(For more info, click on the Regent Park category in the right column of this webpage.)

added July 27
This Phase 2 report provides a good summary; it is dated July 2010, but the Trefann Court Association just received this link from the city. (If the above link doesn’t work, the report can also be found here.) This comment offers one interpretation of the above report; also the following highlights: Continue reading

Posted in development, Regent Park | 1 Comment

Regent Park demolition

After awarding itself additional density, the City is moving ahead with more Regent Park redevelopment. Lots of demolition happened during the past 2 months, to make way for Regent Park Phase 2 (which includes the new community centre). In mid Dec 2010, many mature trees were cut down, and stucco (toxic?) carefully scraped off the townhouses (mid Dec). Demolition started again in mid January and all the townhouses on Sackville Green, including those fronting Shuter St, were gone in 10 days.
Dec 13, removing stuccoDec 13, cutting down treesJan 14

The original Regent Park included 5 award-winning high-rises, built in 1958. The 14 storey tower at 63 Belshaw Place is currently being demolished. 14 Blevins Place is supposed to be renovated. The other 3 buildings are also slated for demolition: 15 Belshaw Place, 42 Blevins Place and 605 Whiteside Place.

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