New CRBA board to handle planning, traffic, parks

Dennis Hanagan –

The Corktown Residents and Business Association has its eye on new developments, the King-Sumach intersection and park improvements for 2015.

“Development is a huge issue in Corktown because there’s so much going on,” Kara Isert, outgoing CRBA president, said in an interview.
For the most part her association is excited about the projects. “But we also want to make sure they’re delivered as promised and they integrate well with the rest of the neighbourhood.”

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By “integrating well’ she means they should fit in architecturally with the community and offer amenities. “We want the new developments in Corktown to have great design and great public realm aspects,” says Isert.

She asks will developments on Corktown’s east side still allow views of the Don River, will they have pathways for pedestrians to get to squares, will there be spaces for cafés “so that it’s not just blocks of glass towers.”

The tallest building proposed so far is at Labbatt and Defries. It’s in the Queen-River Secondary Plan area and just shy of 40 storeys. But the secondary plan, approved by the city in January, limits heights there to 25 storeys.

“There’s already some tension between what’s proposed and what is planned,” says Isert.

As for traffic, CRBA has questions about the King-Sumach intersection. Not long ago it underwent reconstruction.

There’ve been changes to the way the crossing operates, and streetcars will eventually be turning south to head down Cherry St., Isert notes.

The painted traffic lines on Sumach can confuse motorists, says Isert. “Sometimes they might go into the oncoming lane because they’re going from a one-way to a 2-way. For bicyclists, it’s unclear for cars where the bike lanes are and cars cut through the lanes,” she says. “There’re a lot of details that need to be worked out.”

Overall, Corktown is going to have lots more cars passing through with new residential towers going up. “We’re very interested in the downtown relief subway line because we think it would help take a lot of pressure off the (King) and (Queen streetcar) lines.”

For Corktown’s six small parks the CRBA is developing a masterplan and is trying to prevent duplicating amenities from one park to another.

“We want parks for adults, for kids and for dogs, for contemplation, for activities, relaxation —a real variety,” says Isert.

The Bright St. park is being refurbished this spring.

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