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Imagining a new town centre for Midtown Toronto

Midtown working group submits final report on Canada Square

We are grateful to Tom Cohen of the Eglinton Park Residents' Association for crafting the following summary of critical action taken by members of our community, including the RRA, to influence a vast new development in our neighbourhood. When Oxford Properties announced their most recent plans in 2020 for Canada Square, we were all impressed by how much open space there was. We were also somewhat rueful that the scheme “paid” for that amenity with five soaring towers, one of them far taller than E-condo on the northeast corner of Yonge and Eglinton. Then we began to think harder: our Midtown is growing so fast, and amenities and services have not at all kept pace. And the last thing we really need up here is 2700 new apartments. After all, this land, unlike most land here, belongs to the city, and it is a big plot, at the very intersection of two rapid transit lines. So it is our last chance to fill our many gaps and help make Yonge and Eglinton work well. So can we not do better? We citizens pushed, with our three local councillors, to slow things down. So the city set up a working group: seven Residents’ Associations, plus the Federation of North Toronto RA’s [FoNTRA], two condos, a BIA, a tenant’s association, and two TDSB board members, with support from city staff. We held five meetings, harmonious, creative, and up-beat, and drafted an eloquent report. We attach it here.

  1. Canada Square should be a magnet, not just a mere place to change trains and go south. Its reach should be not local, but city-wide.

  2. It will need ample open space, relaxing, interesting, and attractive.

  3. We all need, urgently, a K-8 public school.

  4. We also need affordable housing, in ample supply in the housing that does go up, but that housing should make up only 20% of the built space.

  5. Canada Square should have spaces for the arts, for assembly, and for social services.

  6. It should also incubate innovation, with jobs in the new economy that fit the many skills of residents here.

  7. A branch of a post-secondary institution would attract and anchor innovation and support the arts.

  8. All construction should be as “green” as possible.

  9. Canada Square should have a governing commission, like the one for Harbourfront, to steer development.

This plan neither presumes nor excludes a role for Oxford, the current developer. We are sending it to Toronto’s chief planner, who will report his response to the city’s Planning and Housing Committee. We hope they set city staff in motion, gauging its implications. This is not at all the end of the story: if our plan makes headway, expect a long, lively consultation with us citizens.

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