Letters November 25th, 2014

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If re-development continues…

Re: Today’s Streeter [Town Crier, Nov. 3]. Your question relating to the first big issue for the newly elected councillor resulted in several responses identifying traffic congestion as a serious issue.

Starting in 2011 and continuing until 2014, I submitted numerous comments to both the city planning staff and the city councillor relating to the developments at 85 and 115 Laird Dr., 70 and 80 Wicksteed Ave., 2 Laird Dr. and 42-46 Overlea Blvd. I also included comments with a diagram relating to traffic infiltration on adjacent and nearby streets.

After comments are submitted, a follow-up with the residents is incumbent upon the city councillor. However, I did not receive any follow-up to my comments. A lack of follow-up does not inspire confidence in the councillor.

Contrary to claims by consultants, traffic infiltration on nearby streets is not insignificant.

The two plazas that are essentially complete are located at Laird Drive and Wicksteed Avenue, and at 85 Laird Drive. The other two plazas under construction are located at 70 Wicksteed Avenue (Walmart) and 42-46 Overlea Boulevard (Costco). With only two plazas completed traffic has already increased significantly. This is a threat to public safety. The magnitude of each of 70 Wicksteed and 42-46 Overlea will have a greater impact on traffic infiltration and safety when contrasted with the completed plazas.

An additional serious concern relates to the approach taken by both the city planning staff and the consultants for the applications relating to both Walmart and Costco. I feel traffic impact studies for the area are not reliable.

The final reports for 85 Laird and 70 Wicksteed indicated an acceptable level of traffic on adjacent and nearby streets. The significant increase in traffic observed daily suggests the traffic studies are flawed. I have seen only one traffic counter, on Randolph Road, that presumably related to the application for 70 Wicksteed. Traffic counters have not been seen since February 2013.

A standard refrain seems to be that proposed developments “result in an acceptable level of traffic on adjacent and nearby streets”. Based on final reports and community presentations, one would surmise that an unlimited increase of new developments has a negligible impact on traffic infiltration. This is utter nonsense, especially when daily traffic observations clearly indicate an increase in vehicular infiltration.

I have attended several community presentations relating to the applications for redevelopment of lands that were once proud industrial sites. The present trend is to re-establish these sites as lucrative sites for retail and residential use. Comments from several citizens, including the Leaside Property Owners Association, have presented noteworthy feedback relating to the aggressive movement on the part of developers to control advancement within the City of Toronto.

Citizens were reminded by the city councillor that if the city planning staff rejected the application the applicant would present an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board to overturn the decision by city staff. This suggests to me the residents’ diligence towards a healthful community may be rendered futile.

Residents are reminded by both the planning staff and the city councillor that the application for re-development is subject to a number of tests during the assessment process. Based on developments thus far, one can readily surmise that developers are passing all tests with “flying colours”. However, two tests appear to have failed — the effects on traffic on adjacent and nearby streets, and the effects on public safety as a result of aggressive driving.

Councillor-elect Jon Burnside is now obliged to address the issues relating to the aggressive application process by developers.

If re-development continues unabated, then the City of Toronto will be firmly under control of the developers. If the comments of the citizens of Toronto are disregarded by the new councillor, then the status quo of pro-development will prevail.

Allan McCartney
Randolph Road
Leaside