River St. project raises concerns over height, congestion and home security

Siobhan Geary —

Ward 28 residents questioned whether a proposed tower development would deliver its promised “urban village” or threaten their neighbourhood’s character following a public presentation from local developers.

Architectural developers TAS and Diamond & Schmitt are seeking a zoning bylaw amendment in order to build two multi-purpose towers at River and Labatt. This, they claim, would create a sustainable and architecturally innovative urban village, including residential, commercial and office units, as well as public and green space.

Potential home security concerns and TTC congestion and were among the issues raised at the consultation. Many residents pointed out that the buildings’ proposed height could enclose the neighbourhood, cutting off their sunlight while alienating them from the potentially insular village.

The proposed development consists of two point towers, a 26-storey tower on the western portion of the site along River St. and a 34-storey tower on the eastern portion of the site along Labatt Ave.  This includes a shared 7-storey base building.

The proposal contains 578 dwelling units, 5,072 square metres of retail space located on the 1st and 2nd floors as well as 7,994 square metres of office uses located on the 3rd and 4th floors.

The applicant is proposing 364 parking spaces in 3 levels of underground parking.

Some residents feared their concerns would not be taken into consideration, given the degree of thought and effort already put into the project.

“I’ve worked in construction for 20 years. I’ve seen these things go through,” said long-time resident Drake Trafford, “They’ve spent a million dollars designing this. They’re not going to change it for us.”

However, the developers asserted that community feedback is always a factor in their plans and seemed especially receptive to the idea of making the surrounding neighbourhood “part of the village courtyard.”

“Most of our projects end up reaching a compromise,” said TAS representative Mazyar Mortazavi, “This is part of the process and it’s something we’re committed to because we think the dialogue helps to improve and enhance the project.”

Councillor Pam McConnell emphasized the need for constructive dialogue.

“This is still in the recipe stage. We’re still trying to get the ingredients together and figure out what is appropriate,” she said. “We could certainly jump to a refusal report and they could jump to an ‘it’s our way or the highway’ report. Then we’d all be marching to the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board) and none of us would be satisfied.”