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Sunday, April 20, 2014
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The future look of Eglinton Avenue

City asks how the street will change once the crosstown light-rail goes into service
By Karolyn Coorsh

Originally published in our Bayview MillsForest HillLeaside-RosedaleNorth Toronto print edition(s).

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As the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown construction gets underway in earnest, city staff are studying how neighbourhoods along Eglinton should take shape.

Planners held a series of consultations in May to garner public insight into the types of buildings and public realms that should be permitted along the 19-kilometre stretch of track.

“We want people to shop, live and work right here,” Eglinton-Lawrence MPP Mike Colle told a meeting held at Northern District library on May 24.

He said this is “an incredible opportunity” for big, bold ideas.

“Let’s shape it that way. Where there’s employment hubs, there’s a place for seniors to live, families to live. Let’s make it happen on Eglinton.”

Designated an Avenue under the province’s Official Plan, Eglinton is ripe for re-urbanization.Various neighbourhoods along the street are zoned for mixed-use development.

Developers are looking to build residential condos along Eglinton, particularly in the midtown portion, city planning director Brian Gallaugher told the crowd.

With the exception of high intensification nodes, current zoning allows for mostly mid-rise development, topping out at eight or nine storeys.

Gallaugher noted in some areas of Eglinton the lots are too shallow for heavy intensification, but some areas could take significantly greater development than what currently exists, including at Dufferin and Eglinton.

“There are some fairly large lots there … which would be suitable for much larger buildings than the mid-rise ones that are our starting point,” he said. “Bayview is the same thing.”

Several people raised the issue of employment lands along Eglinton.

“I want to see that the city takes the support and encouragement and investment in employment because I don’t see it as a large issue for the city [council]”, said Joy Seth. “Nobody seems to talk about it.‘

The city is currently undergoing a full review of the city’s employment lands, and a report is expected to go before council in the fall.

Several residents also suggested avoiding or limiting on-street parking in favour of making the road safer, and more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians.

“I would like to see car-parking either underground, or in multi-tiered garages,” said one attendee. “There are alternatives. You’ll have to spend money, but you’re already spending a lot of money.”

A Leasider addressed concerns of safety if the road is to be widened. She said Eglinton, in Leaside especially, is already prone to collisions and pedestrian hits.

“It’s already dangerous now, and I think the concern is if the bus lanes come out, it’s going to be worse,” she said.

Gallaugher assured her that there are no plans to widen Eglinton from Bayview to Brentcliffe Road.

Not addressed at the meeting were “mobility hubs,” including the Yonge and Eglinton node, where an interchange between the LRT line and the subway system will need to be integrated into the intersection.   

Other mobility hubs will be located at either end of the line. These areas are designated as Centres in the Official Plan, and are subject to a detailed planning study spearheaded by Metrolinx, the provincial transportation agency funding the $6.2 billion light rail line.  

Input from residents, along with planning research, will ultimately lead to a series of recommendations and land-use principles to be presented to city council in Spring 2013.

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