My family and I have lived in Ward 5 since 1991, and it seems that no municipal election is complete without talking about the “Revitalization of The Queensway.” So why can’t we get this one right? Or put another way, what have the good residents of The Queensway done to deserve, well, The Queensway?
Why should The Queensway be a dumping ground for …
… and for ‘la piece de resistance’, Phase 2 (and possibly Phase 3) of IQ Condos.
Sadly, Phase 2 of IQ Condos has been permitted despite its non-compliance with the City’s Official Plan. And to make matters worse, the developer recently obtained a permit for Phase 3 which includes three towers (the highest being 42 stories) with the support of our interim and “unelected” Councillor. High intensity developments like IQ belong in Urban Growth Centres, not on an Avenue like The Queensway. Reversing the approval of Phase 3 will be difficult and we will all need to pull together to do it.
While we are at it, why are ‘big box’ stores and out-of-scale entities, like Costco and the Cineplex, being constructed in the heart of The Queensway? These businesses were built for and rely primarily on customers from outside the ward and even outside Toronto. They are a significant source of traffic and their customers patronize few, if any, local businesses, restaurants or merchants. Ideally, the cinema should be located at Etobicoke Centre and Costco should be among the big box stores near the 427 / QEW. Unfortunately, we could be stuck with these two white elephants for several more decades.
Islington Village and The Kingsway would not tolerate any of these. So why should the residents of The Queensway? Sadly, City Planning and our departing Councillor have let us down. I along with many other area residents am appalled by the lack of quality development along this “Avenue”.
So what is to be done?
First, despite the best intentions and limited resources of the Queensway Business Improvement Area (which is just getting off the ground), we have to realize that adding “Shop The Queensway” signs and banners, street plantings, benches and other decorative features will not be enough to revitalize The Queensway and attract people. Instead, we need to accept that revitalization can only happen when more people choose to live and work here. In other words, only an increase in density will lead to investments in better housing, thriving businesses and an attractive streetscape. Lucky for us, The Queensway has been declared an “Avenue” by City Planning and we should embrace and take full advantage of this before other declared Avenues do so.
If elected Councillor for Ward 5, I will work to attract new residents and businesses by doing the following:
- Ensure that the all new infill townhouses are suitable for families and are of good and enduring quality with attractive facades (not unlike these).
- Ensure that the all mid-rise apartments and condos are also suitable for families and of good and enduring quality with attractive facades and offering some with office, retail and commercial space (not unlike these).
- Allow for affordable housing and housing for seniors.
- Solicit new businesses that will provide for the daily and weekly needs of local residents within walking distance, like groceries stores, pharmacies, bakeries, cafes, clinics, etc.
- Work with the Public Works Department to reduce traffic to no more than four lanes at any given time. We must develop The Queensway for local residents rather than for the people who drive through it.
- Propose and work towards extending the streetcar line west beyond the Humber Loop to Kipling and, eventually, to Sherway Gardens. See the “Express Transit to Downtown” page for more details.
- Relocate the adult video stores and massage parlours to other areas. This may be easier said than done, but if The Queensway is redeveloped according to the Official Plan a loss of customers and increasing rents will eventually push them out.
- Stop the approval and construction of Phase 3 of the IQ Condos. And let’s stop accepting Section 37 Benefits that allow developers to exceed the height and density requirements of the Official Plan.
- Prevent any more ‘big box’ stores and out-of-scale entities to be constructed east of Kipling Avenue.
The Queensway has been selected for intensification but as an Avenue rather than an Urban Growth Centre. In my opinion, the transition is off to a bad start. But it is not too late to turn things around. With The Queensway being so close to Lake Ontario, Humber River, Downtown, High Park and Etobicoke Centre, there is no reason that it cannot be developed into one of Toronto’s grandest avenues. In fact, the Toronto Official Plan calls for it. Please support me if you share a similar mindset and vision.