Over the past year and a half, Leasiders have stated – very clearly – your concerns about the proposed SmartCentre North development. You were worried about increased traffic and congested roads, about the potential loss of employment lands, about more “big box” retail development along Laird, and you were generally unhappy about the harmful effects of excesssive retail development on Leaside’s character.

We heard you, and over the following months, LPOA and LU (which became part of LPOA) raised funds and hired legal, traffic, and retail experts to advise us on whether we had grounds to oppose the SmartCentre North development, and if not, what we could do to better protect the neighbourhood.

We held numerous discussions with our consultants, and we did a lot of research. We combed through the reports of the developer’s consultants, raising questions and getting answers, not all of which were satisfactory. We had two meetings with City Staff and Councillor Parker.

In the end, it became clear that we had two basic options: either oppose the development and go to the Ontario Municipal Board (“OMB”), or settle with SmartCentres and try to get as many concessions as possible. Both options are discussed in further detail below.

In terms of the first option, our consultants advised us that we would likely not succeed before the OMB because (i) the City’s Official Plan supported this kind of retail development, (ii) the City Staff had issued a report in favour of the development without any reduction in density, (iii) we would not have any legal or financial support from the City; and (iv) the cost of mounting a meaningful challenge before the OMB would be at least  $125,000 (for legal fees and disbursements, including conducting our own traffic study).

We were also told that success before the OMB would mean that the square footage for the main anchor tenant might be decreased to as low as 60,000 square feet, from the proposed 80,000 square feet. In other words, there was effectively no chance of precluding a “big box” retailer from locating in the development.

Finally, to have any chance of obtaining even a decrease to 60,000 square feet, we would require the support of Councillor Parker. During two meetings with him, he refused to agree to vote against the current proposal. As recently as April 4, 2013, Councillor Parker sent an email to LPOA and LU in which he would not commit to support a decrease to 60,000 square feet, also stating that “Leaning on me to demand a 60,000 sq ft anchor tenant does not seem likely to sway the other members of community council”. We subsequently discovered that Councillor Parker had “blind copied” his email to the other members of the North York Community Council.

Faced with all these difficulties, there was in our view no reasonable option other than try to settle with SmartCentres. While SmartCentres were always polite and respectful in our discussions, it was apparent from the start that SmartCentre was not prepared to agree to any decrease in the size of the anchor tenant. Nor would SmartCentres agree to exclude any specific tenant.

Accordingly, our focus shifted to trying to reach a settlement that provided for funding measures which would answer at least some of Leasiders’ concerns, and which would help protect the residential neighbourhood from the negative impact of the many large retail outlets on Laird.

The settlement reached on April 9, 2013 will allow LPOA to embark on measures that will benefit both the areas closest to the proposed development and the community as a whole. In particular, it provides LPOA with $110,000 in funding, which should be sufficient to:

  • hire our own experts to address flow-through traffic problems with a proper traffic study
  • initiate heritage conservation efforts
  • assist the Bayview shopping district through a new and much needed BIA., and
  • pay some of the consultant fees incurred to date (approximately $10,000)

This funding is to be spent in LPOA’s discretion.

The settlement also notes the community’s safety concerns regarding underground parking, and everyone’s desire for good landscaping and increased bicycle use. SmartCentre has agreed to involve LPOA in the planning and site design.

LPOA and LU believe that a reasonable settlement was achieved, having regard to the difficulties posed by the Official Plan, and the unwillingness of Councillor Parker to offer more support.

We look forward to working with Leasiders in implementing these improvements within our neighbourhood.

City Documents

February 21, 2013

February 21 Update

February 21, 2013

SmartCentre North Staff Report goes to North York Community Council Meeting, February 26, 2013

The City Staff’s Report published on February 14, 2013, is in favor of the proposed SmartCentre North development at Laird and Wicksteed. The Report has been placed on the Agenda for the February 26th North York Community Council meeting.

After consulting our legal counsel, we wrote to Councillor Parker on February 19th to ask him to support our request for a deferral of North York Community Council’s (NYCC) consideration of this issue until their meeting of April 9. We also asked him to discuss this with other NYCC members, to ensure that the deferral is granted. A copy of our letter is copied below.

We represent a significant number of voters in Councillor Parker’s constituency and we are asking for a short deferral. The deferral is needed so that we have sufficient time to consider the Staff Report, consult with the community, speak to the experts we have hired, and potentially meet with the Developer to determine if an amicable resolution may be possible.

We requested a prompt reply from Councillor Parker, given the closeness of the upcoming meeting. His reply is here. As you will see, it is non-committal:

“Thank you for the letter below. Am tied up pretty much all of today and into the evening. Followed by Council for the next two days. Will get back to you when possible.

I welcome the comment about a wish to meet with the applicant. This is a promising turn from the pattern to date. It makes perhaps the strongest case for a deferral, particularly if the purpose of the meeting can be made clear. Have told the applicant and planning staff of your request for a deferral. Some members of NYCC also. Will try to discuss with the others this week.”

There are significant community concerns about this development. It is important to take the time to get this right, and we are disturbed that Councillor Parker has refused to make a firm commitment to support a short deferral. We are also concerned that the decision to grant Section 37 funds ($500,000 to the arena) is being announced in the Staff Report without prior discussion with Leaside Unite or LPOA, the community’s voice on the proposed development, and before Council’s vote on the application. This proposal needs to be assessed realistically and not in isolation — as part of the cumulative retail and traffic impact on the north and south Leaside neighbourhood.

At this point, we urge each and every member of Leaside Unite and LPOA to do two things. First, contact Councillor Parker and voice your displeasure. His office telephone number is (416) 392-0215 and his email address is councillor_parker@toronto.ca.

Second, attend the NYCC meeting on February 26. The address is the North York Civic Centre, at 5100 Yonge Street (just north of Sheppard). The more Leasiders who attend the meeting, the better our chances of obtaining a deferral which our own Councillor – so far – seems unwilling to support!

If you are unable to attend the meeting, and you wish to submit written comments, please forward them to the City Clerk, attention: Francine Adamo, Administrator, North York Community Council by fax: 416-395-7337 or by email to nycc@toronto.ca.

Sent: February-19-13 8:11 AM

To: Councillor_Parker@toronto.ca
Subject: NYCC – Deferral Request

Dear Councillor Parker,

I have not heard back from you following my emails of February 14 and 15, 2013.

During our conversation on February 14, you indicated that you were prepared to support a request by Leaside Unite for a deferral of the February 26 NYCC meeting.

Attached is a draft letter that we propose to send to NYCC, requesting a deferral until the April 9 meeting. This deferral is needed so that we have sufficient time to consider the Staff Report that was just released, consult with the community, speak to the experts we have hired, and potentially meet with the Developer to determine if an amicable resolution may be possible.

I would appreciate hearing back from you as to whether you are prepared to endorse the attached request, and equally importantly, whether you are prepared to lobby other NYCC members to ensure that the deferral is granted.

Given the tight deadline, I must ask for a reply by no later than 5pm on Wednesday, February 20.

Finally, I had hoped to discuss with you Leaside Unite’s initial thoughts with respect to the settlement options you and I discussed on February 14. If you are interested in continuing that discussion, please let me know when you are available to speak.

Letter to North York Community Council requesting deferral

February 21, 2013

February 19, 2013 By Email City Clerk’s Office Attention: Francine Adamo North York Civic Centre 5100 Yonge Street Toronto, Ontario M2N 5V7 Dear Ms. Adamo: Re:       Application to Amend Zoning By-law Application No. 11 264854 NNY 26 OZ We are writing on behalf of Leaside Unite (“LU”), a citizens group concerned about this proposed […]

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Don Valley West All-Politicians Town Hall Meeting

February 4, 2013

Thursday, February 7th – 7:00 p.m. Toronto Botanical Gardens (Formerly Edward’s Gardens) Lawrence and Leslie All-Politicians meeting hosted by Premier-elect Kathleen Wynne Also present will be MP John Carmichael, City Councillor Jaye Robinson and City Councillor John Parker We need to make sure that NYCC members are aware of our opposition to the scale of […]

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Update – February 4, 2013

February 4, 2013

We’d like to extend a hearty thank you to all the Leaside Unite supporters who turned out last Thursday evening for the Community Icebreaker at the Fox and the Fiddle! All our tickets were sold, and after expenses we raised over $3,000. We also added another 100 signatures to the petition (now at over 1,200 signatures, […]

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City reports – 70 Wicksteed

January 31, 2013

Response to Peer Review Questions Regarding Two urbanMetrics Studies: (PDF) (1) Retail Market Demand and Impact Analysis – 70 Wicksteed Avenue, 99 Vanderhoof Avenue and 202‐206 Parkhurst Boulevard – Toronto, Ontario (August 26, 2011); and (2) Economic Impact Assessment – 70 Wicksteed Avenue, 99 Vanderhoof Avenue and 202‐206 Parkhurst Boulevard – Toronto, Ontario (August 26, 2011) – Urban Metrics, July 17, 2012 (PDF ) Technical Services Comments – […]

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Leaside Unite Community Icebreaker – January 31

January 16, 2013

Leaside Unite Community Icebreaker Thursday, January 31, 8 p.m. The Fox & the Fiddle 190 Laird Dr. Tickets $25 ea. Featuring the music of Blue Nash Leaside Unite will be hosting a community fundraiser at the Fox and Fiddle (190 Laird Drive) on Thursday, January 31st starting at 8pm. Tickets are $25 which includes 2 […]

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Fundraising Letter

October 31, 2012

Dear Leaside Neighbour, We are writing to update you on the initiatives of Leaside Unite (LU) and the Leaside Property Owners Association (LPOA) regarding the proposed SmartCentres North Development, which is immediately north of the existing SmartCentres location. LU is a working committee under LPOA, and is comprised of concerned Leaside residents who are committed […]

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