Toronto Mayor urges ‘hold’ on new Eglinton Ave. city parking lot to make room for new transit-oriented housing project

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Toronto Mayor John Tory has asked the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) to drop plans for a new Eglinton Avenue parking lot.

Tory sent a letter on Monday to TPA board chair Hartley Lefton following pressure from housing activists, The Toronto Star reports.

The mayor writes in his letter that the site at 2204-2212 Eglinton Ave. W. is close to the Eglinton Crosstown construction under-way and the lots would be more suitable for a residential Transit Oriented Development (TOD) project.

“I am committed to building more affordable housing in the City of Toronto and I have made it clear that our priority should be building more of that housing close to transit – especially when we are making investments in new transit construction,” Tory wrote.

“Given the proximity of the Eglinton Crosstown construction underway right now, I believe that 2204-2212 Eglinton Ave. W. would be a prime location for transit-oriented development. I believe the city, through the TP A and CreateTO, has a tremendous opportunity to unlock the value of this land and do it in a way that adds to the supply of affordable housing in Toronto.”

The Star quotes Mark Richardson, an advocate for affordable housing and open data, as saying on Monday that his group “welcomes the mayor’s leadership on this file. We want to have evidence-based decisions on housing and the appropriate use of land.

“People or parking — we have to pick one,” Richardson said.

The city purchased two structures, a two-level, four-apartment building and commercial building at the site in 2013, and later added an adjacent single-family home at 601 Caledonia Rd.

TPA says in its documentations that the buildings were to be be demolished to make a 24-space Green P lot to “accommodate the current as well as future demand for public parking in the immediate area.”

The extra spots are also needed, it says, “to help offset any anticipated losses of on-street parking spaces along Eglinton Ave.” when the Eglinton West light rail line opens in 2021.

Richardson spoke out against the plan and the TPA deferred decision on contracts to build the parking lot at its meeting last month. He has publicly urged Tory to take a stand on the site and other future parking planned by the agency, The Star reports.

The new CreateTO agency has been established to create affordable housing on surplus city lands.

Tory wrote he understood the TPA intends, after discussions with CreateTO staff, to defer the demolition/construction contracts decision, and urges both agencies to work on a “better plan” for the site.

“While this is a very specific case, I hope that the parking authority will keep this example in mind,” Tory wrote. “When looking at future projects so that the best public benefit is always factored into its decision-making process, particularly when it comes to sites along transit corridors.”

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