Residents call redevelopment of funeral home on Roncesvalles ‘over-ambitious’

The following article is re posted here with the kind permission of Hilary Caton.

Parkdale Villager

“Monstrous. Disastrous. Out of character.”

Roncesvalles residents did not hold back their distaste for the redevelopment of the former two-storey funeral home at 422-436 Roncesvalles Ave. and 76 Howard Park Ave. during a community consultation on Tuesday, Jan. 5 hosted by the City of Toronto’s planning division.

“It overwhelms the rest of the buildings (around it),” said local resident Harry Cornelius, who attended the meeting.

“The church right beside it is three storeys and the surrounding buildings are all very, very low with a village feel. This building provides a very different feel and it just doesn’t fit this area at all.”

Cornelius wasn’t the only resident striking down the proposal. Roughly 80 residents and the local councillor for Parkdale-High Park, Gord Perks, gathered in the auditorium of St. Casmir’s Church to provide condo developer Craig Hunter & Associates a collective “no” with regards to the proposal.

Residents had a litany of concerns for this proposal, citing the potential lack of street parking it will cause if built, height impacts, noise, the reduced privacy for the neighbours on Hewitt Avenue and Howard Park in backyards and the overall esthetics of the building, which do not blend in with the character of the neighbourhood. A few residents also voiced their discontent for the recent demolition of the building, which has caused houses to shake as early as 7 a.m. this week.

The proposal that has been filed with the city suggests building an eight-storey condo on Roncesvalles Avenue with 93 residential units (49 one-bedroom, 44 two-bedroom) with an additional six townhouse units on Howard Park Avenue. The development will have a two level below grade parking lot with 77 residential parking spaces, six visitor parking spots and 99 bike parking spaces.

Both buildings exceed the maximum permitted building height. The building on Roncesvalles max height is 13 metres. It’s requesting 29.5m with mechanical penthouse, while the area of Howard Park has a maximum height of 10m and the proposed townhomes are 15.28m.

This is one of the major concerns the city and Perks have with the development.

“What they’re proposing has several problems,” Perks told The Villager.

“It’s too tall for a street of this width. The townhouses, the way they’re configured is a very serious problem. It needs better treatment.”

Perks added because Roncesvalles is a designated character area this proposal just isn’t good enough.

“It’s one thing to bend the rules if you have a strangely configured site on an area that is a regular main street,” he said.

“But if you got an area that’s designated as a character area in the city of Toronto, you not only have to meet the rules, you have to do better.”

This is the second meeting the developer has had with the community. Its first informal public consultation was held in April 2015. The proposal is very similar to the original with only 12 less units. But the height hasn’t changed to the dismay of the residents in attendance.

“We’re open to a range of things and the height will be one of those,” said Craig Hunter, the president of Craig Hunter & Associates.

“Getting people’s perspective is always helpful. It’s not always what you want to hear.”

A handful of residents mentioned if the development was five-and-a-half storeys tall they’d would be more inclined to support it. Agreeing to eight storeys will set a dangerous precedent for future development that Cornelius believes is inevitable for Roncesvalles, which is fairly undeveloped.

“It will have a domino effect – absolutely,” he said. “It’s monstrous in size. It’s over-ambitious. It’s out of character and it sets a terrible, terrible precedent.”

This entry was posted in Parkdale and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Your feedback is important.