Moving towards the District Plan: William Baker Neighbourhood
More on the Phase 2 Consultation HERE
The District Plan Consultation so far:
- The Applicant for the Plan is Canada Lands Company, the crown corporation running Downsview Park
- While Wm Baker is part of the old CFB Downsview (i.e. federal lands) it is not part of Downsview Park
- The ultimate aim of the District Plan is to transfer Wm Baker lands to city jurisdiction
- Normally a District Plan sets out such things as roads, population densities and uses
- William Baker is approximately 60 acres, half of which is protected woodlot and half vacant land
- Under the Secondary Plan, 3550 "apartment" units have been approved for the vacant lands
- The sketch below shows one possible layout, with increased density along an E/W street connecting to Grandravine Drive
- Despite the earnest efforts of Canada Lands Company (CLC), there does not seem to be much local interest in the project. This is unbelieveable and probably unique in the civilized world. Notwithstanding acres of vacant land near a subway stop, thousands of condos ready to go, and admitted traffic problems, the two Open Houses to date (plus separate pop-up kiosks) have been sparsely attended and low key.
- While CLC has tried to accommodate different modes of transportation for access to the west (Keele St) and to the east and south (Sheppard Ave), it appears to be unconcerned about any connectivity to the north (Duke Heights business area)
- While CLC has actively presented a variety of options for residential housing, it has been less active in seeking out alternative uses (educational, commercial, recreational, institutional, etc). In a development with no schools, no churches, no theatres, no halls, no athletic fields, no major businesses, and no institutional presences, the fear is that the end result will be a monster bedroom community overwhelming the common greenspace.
ALBERT KRIVICKAS, DLCVA: Further to our Jan 15 meeting, here are a couple of my personal requests. Given the traffic problems presented by this project, the number of units should be reduced. Because Keele St and Allen Rd are already at capacity, traffic should be directed elsewhere, if necessary by a large LED sign indicating alternate routes. Also there should be a full intersection at Sheppard and Hwy 400.
Canada Lands Company takes questions from the DLCVA
JAMES COX, CLC: It was a great pleasure to have a good meeting and we really appreciate your input on the concept options. . I have passed your traffic comments along to our transportation consultant for their consideration as they begin their work on a comprehensive transportation assessment in support of our District Plan. I think a couple of your considerations will require input from MTO (full intersection at Sheppard and Hwy 400) and the City (large LED display at Sheppard and Keele) at the appropriate time.
I would like to see a Metro supermarket in the development even though some planners say it doesn't make economic sense. In the years to come, two new neighbourhoods (Sheppard and Chesswood) will come on stream next door to Wm Baker. We should make room for a full-size supermarket now.
I understand your desire for a food store. We will dig deeper on this with our market economic consultant and look to understand what can be accommodated from a market standpoint and ensure that the design of William Baker can accommodate intended and desired uses.
Besides a supermarket there should be a bank and medical and dental offices. For anyone with physical disabilities (like myself) there should be a number of designated parking spots and and speed bumps where appropriate. At a minimum a senior's apartment should be 900 square feet and have wheelchair access.
We certainly appreciate your comments regarding seniors and people with disabilities. The goal of the William Baker neighbourhood is to create an environment that is suitable for people of all ages and abilities, from very young children through to seniors. We will be designing streets, parks, sidewalks, trails and buildings that are universally accessible so that everyone is able to participate in and enjoy the neighbourhood’s amenities. It is also our intent to plan for seniors housing, amenities and services in close proximity to support seniors day to day needs. Canada Lands will be seeking to partner with organizations that are specifically focused on seniors housing. This could take many forms, from active living to assisted care. I would not want to preclude anything at this time, while at the same time recognizing that these uses would not be delivered by Canada Lands, but instead by partners expressing an interest in investing at William Baker (e.g. Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, etc.).
(This email exchange of Jan 17-20 has been edited)
Local MP Michael Levitt is a fan of the way Canada Lands has conducted its consultation to date, indicating this is a sea change from when he was first elected in 2015 -- in the direction of transparency and openness.
He also advises that the community centre planned to be located just south of William Baker is very much alive [as per cross-hatched pink circle on the bottom of the sketch above]. Funding of about $50 million will be provided by the three levels of government: ($19 million from the feds, $16 million from the Province, and $11 million from the City). "Getting the community centre built has been one of my key priorities and Councillor Pasternak has been most helpful in getting us to this point."