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Don’t bulldoze homes for a parking lot, Tory urges
July 23, 2019
David Rider

Mayor John Tory is urging Toronto’s “Green P” agency to scrap plans to transform an Eglinton Ave. site with homes into a new parking lot.

Tory’s letter sent Monday to Hartley Lefton, chair of the newly reconstituted Toronto Parking Authority board, comes after pressure from housing activists. They say the city can’t afford to pave over a site when Torontonians face skyrocketing housing costs and scant affordable rentals.

In the letter sent one day before TPA’s monthly board meeting, Tory says he is concerned about the plan for 2204-2212 Eglinton Ave. W. -- but the city-owned parking authority should “keep this example in mind” when thinking of buying other sites to transform into parking lots.

Mark Richardson, an advocate for affordable housing and open data, said Monday 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.”

The City of Toronto bought a two-level, four-apartment building and commercial building at 2204-2212 Eglinton Ave. West in 2013, and later an adjacent single-family home at 601 Caledonia Rd.

According to a TPA document, the buildings will be bulldozed 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 under-construction Eglinton West light rail line opens in 2021.

Richardson said the fact that the site will be near a new transit station made it even harder for him to believe the city would reserve the site for cars over bigger, denser buildings for people.

“Based on the demographics of that neighbourhood it could be some kind of seniors’ housing,” he said, adding that if all of the L-shaped lot is in play, it could potentially host up to 60 small units.

The TPA deferred decision on contracts to build the parking lot at its meeting last month after Richardson made a presentation ridiculing the plan. He has publicly urged Tory in the weeks since to take a stand on the site and other future parking lots eyed by the agency.

Tory, whose “Housing Now” plan aims to create affordable housing on surplus city properties through a new agency called CreateTO, wrote to Lefton that he has “serious concerns” about the Eglinton plan.

Given the coming LRT line, the mayor said, the lot “would be a prime location for transit-oriented development. I believe the city, through the TPA and CreateTO, has a tremendous opportunity to unlock the value of this land and to do it in a way that adds to the supply of affordable housing in Toronto.”

Tory wrote he understood the TPA intends, after discussions with CreateTO staff, to again put off the parking lot 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.”

Richardson said he hopes to get a chance to meet Tory and discuss data-driven plans for other “Housing Now” sites advocates have mapped on