A key part of the Bijou development at the Humber Theatre site will be the rejuvenation of the northeast corner of Bloor Street and Riverview Gardens. Currently, this swath of property is unadorned with any landscaping or design elements and features a less-than-ideal off-camber sidewalk going around the corner. Upon completion of the condominium, this will be changed for the better.

Above is a rendering proposed by the developer of the Bijou, that our community is supporting. The current proposal was arrived at as a result of numerous consultations with a BWVRA neighbourhood advisory group. As shown, it will include greenery, a staircase to better navigate the downward slope and new seating areas. Final drawings will be made available once a Site Plan Approval is received from the City. This is another example of the BWVRA in action.

“I was just looking at the BWVRA notice about the Humber/Riverview building.  I have to commend the BWVRA on its continuing work to keep the village development to a reasonable level.  The rendering of the proposed building is at least kept to mid-rise and the design at least has some interesting features that break up the glass box effect.  I think that without the continuing pressure that the Association has wielded, BWV would look very different at this point.  Well done!” 

ES, Toronto

The Zoning By-law Amendment application for 2442-2454 Bloor St West has been approved by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

In April 2019, the developer, the City and all of the other parties to the appeal reached a settlement for a 12-storey building on site, which the LPAT approved in principle. The Final Order was held, pending satisfaction of a number of conditions.

Those conditions are set out in Appendix A of the Confidential Report from the City Solicitor adopted at the June 2018 meeting of City Council, which can be read here. All supporting documentation for the Zoning By-law Amendment application, including architectural plans and technical reports, is available online at the City’s Application Information Centre, under “Supporting Documentation” here.

A site plan application, including “streetscaping” at corner of Bloor and Riverview Gardens remains under review and a demolition application for buildings on site is still pending.

As we get back to routine after a lovely summer, we wanted to update everyone on the status of the Plazacorp condominium development at the Humber Theatre.

A settlement Hearing at LPAT (Local Planning Appeals Tribunal)  took place April 23, 2019, at which all the Parties to the proceedings agreed to a building that will be similar in height and massing to #1 Old Mill, the existing condo immediately to the West. However, the settlement is conditional upon the developer satisfying the City’s Transportation Services staff that the proposed development will have no unacceptable traffic impacts on the immediate neighbourhood. To this end, the Developer’s updated Traffic Study is currently being reviewed in conjunction with the separate Vision Zero study being conducted by the City at the Bloor Street /South Kingsway / Riverview Gardens intersection. 

As many of us are aware, this is a particularly problematic and unsafe intersection which has an exceptionally high rate of collisions, some of which have involved pedestrians. We have been informed that a number of alternative improvements to vehicular and pedestrian safety are being considered including an option to re-open Riverview Gardens northbound from the South Kingsway.  There will be a follow-up public consultation to the first one held on July 30, 2018, and further updates will be posted as new information becomes available. 

It looks fairly contemporary, but the Humber Theatre was built back in 1948. Then, it was known as the Humber Odeon Theatre. On May 30, it closed forever.

According to Wikipedia, it was designed by architect Jay Isadore, originally seating 1,200 patrons in one large auditorium, which was split into upper and lower auditoriums in the 1970s. It was closed in 2003, abandoned, and re-opened by new owners in 2011, after a $350,000 renovation. According to Doug Taylor, author of Toronto’s Local Theatres of Yesteryear, operator Rui Pereira preserved the upper auditorium, but split the lower auditorium into four smaller auditoria.

We’d love to hear your stories and memories of the Humber.

Since the first Pre-hearing Conference at the OMB last September, two revised “without prejudice” proposals have been presented to the Parties by the developer. The BWVRA Board of Directors was particularly encouraged by the latest version provided in March, in which there were very significant reductions in the building height and massing. As is the case with all “without prejudice” proposals in a negotiation, the substance of these proposals remains confidential between the Parties. However, the developer, apparently assuming that it is close to arriving at a scheme that the various Parties (including the BWVRA) will find acceptable, has recently submitted an application for Site Plan Approval to the City. As a quick reference, the two architect’s perspectives below have been extracted from this submission:

Why is this significant? The Site Plan application drawings, which very closely resemble the most recent “without prejudice” proposal, are now on the public record, and by reviewing these drawings you should have a good understanding of how the negotiations have progressed to this point.

From the perspective of the BWVRA Board, the most important improvements in the current proposal, as compared to the initial submission to City Planning that also remains under appeal at the OMB, are:

  • The average overall height of the building has been reduced from approximately 47 m. to 35 m., or the equivalent of 4 residential floors (this is just marginally higher than the 32 m. height approved back in 2008 for the original Humber Theatre proposal)
  • The gross floor area has been reduced from 31, 645 sq. m. to 28, 596 sq. m.
  • There are approximately 44 fewer condo units.
  • There are 87 fewer underground parking spaces.

While these revisions represent the very substantial progress that has been made toward a potential settlement, the following issues remain to be resolved:

  • Minimizing potential traffic impacts on the neighbourhood
  • Neighbourhood concerns about pedestrian safety and excessive wind impacts at the corner of Riverview Gardens

In the mean time, your feedback continues to be very important, and we welcome any thoughts you may have on the current proposal as reflected on the Site Plan drawings.

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted an update on the Humber Theatre Proposal, but that doesn’t mean the BWVRA hasn’t been busy!  Quite the opposite!  Your Association, along with the four other parties to the proceedings, has had several productive discussions with the developer.  Progress is being made and there is optimism that a negotiated settlement may be within reach.  The developer has been meeting with us on a “without prejudice” basis which means, unfortunately, we are unable to make any public disclosure of our progress.  We’re hopeful that we’ll be in a position to provide more details in time for our Annual General Meeting on May 10th, which will feature one of our always successful Candidate Debates, in advance of the upcoming Provincial Election.  We thank you again for your continuing support!

The 2nd Pre-Hearing Conference took place last week on February 8th, at which representatives for the developer and the five Parties to the Appeal, reiterated their interest in a Board-assisted Mediation process.  However, the presiding Board Member, citing the current overwhelming workload and lack of capacity at the OMB, was once again unable to offer a date for this to take place.  Even more significantly, no assurances were given that the Board would be able to assist in Mediation within the foreseeable future.  Instead, the Board Member offered a 3rd Pre-Hearing Conference scheduled for June 28th, 2018.

Plazacorp’s lawyer then declared that his client would be willing to engage in discussions directly with the five Parties in an effort to converge on a revised proposal that would be satisfactory to everyone prior to June 28th.  Should this initiative succeed, the expectation is that the 3rd Pre-Hearing Conference could then be converted to a Settlement Hearing.  If no agreement is reached by then, the Developer could request more time for informal negotiations, ask again for an OMB-assisted Mediation or, as a last resort, request a date for a Contested Hearing.

In view of the inability of the OMB to assist in a negotiated settlement, BWVRA remains cautiously optimistic that frank and productive discussions will take place with the Developer over the next several months.  To help facilitate this dialogue, our Association will also be reaching out to the Swansea Area Ratepayers Association (SARA) to explore issues that we have in common, and if possible, present a united front on behalf of all the residents of Bloor West Village.

 

 

In the meantime, you may have noticed the new “You Asked?” section on our website, where we share frequently asked questions and responses to them. We continue to encourage your feedback which is crucial to informing the positions your Association will be representing in the up-coming negotiations.

  • If you aren’t already a member in good standing, please consider joining
  • Donate to help us reach our new target of $30,000
  • Attend the fundraiser preview performance of the mystery play “Tainted Justice” at the Village Playhouse on March 1st, 8:00 PM

Does the BWVRA support the re-opening of Riverview Gardens north-bound from the South Kingsway?

The decision to close the north-bound access to Riverview Gardens was made as a concession to the Old Mill neighbourhood at the time when the # 1 and #2 Old Mill condo proposals were approved a number of years ago.  This closure was negotiated by the now defunct Old Mill Residents Association in response to an emerging problem of traffic short-cutting through the Old Mill neighbourhood, which was expected to become even worse with the realignment of the intersection.  As a result of this measure, Riverview Gardens was restored to its historical function as a local residential street with moderate traffic levels.

In the meantime, should the currently proposed Humber Theatre re-development proceed, it is recognized that traffic may increase substantially on the public laneway behind #1 and #2 Old Mill, as it would be the most direct access to that building for traffic from the south. BWVRA supports any initiative that encourages the City to have this issue properly re-assessed and to prescribe a solution that ensures there will be no significant increase in traffic levels on the residential streets within the Old Mill neighbourhood.

The first Pre-hearing Conference was held on September 28, 017, during which a number of Parties and Participants were identified and registered by the OMB.  As importantly Plazacorp, the developer, asked for Mediation but did not request an alternative date for a Contested Hearing, should Mediation fail.  BWVRA has interpreted this as positive sign, that the applicant would like to expedite a negotiated settlement; however, with an unusually large number of five Parties being involved, and with many divergent interests to address, this is not expected to be easy.

In the mean time, through consultations with our Members and with the advice of our Lawyer and Planner, we have been preparing to be able to clearly articulate the community’s interests when further negotiations, and possibly formal OMB Mediation, take place.  Negotiated settlements are usually dependent on all of the Parties narrowing down their focus to two or three key issues that matter to them most. From the perspective of BWVRA, these are as follows:

  • The proposed building is much too high, bulky and out-of-scale for the location,
  • Predicted shadow impacts on the adjacent neighbourhood are unacceptable
  • Wind tunnelling is already a concern at street-level, and the additional impacts of the proposed building need to be understood and properly addressed.

Our next date with the OMB is the second Pre-hearing Conference scheduled for February 7, 018.  Watch for further updates, before and immediately after that date, on the progress of informal negotiations that may take place, along with the scheduled date for Mediation, should this step be needed.