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Thornhill resident calls on Vaughan councillors to be vocal about Toronto’s intensification plans

46 highrise condos proposed or approved along or near Steeles Avenue between Yonge and Dufferin streets
June 22, 2021
Dina Al-Shibeeb

A Vaughan resident wants local councillors to be vocal about condo proposals in Toronto, seen as aggravating established neighbourhoods, already rife with traffic gridlock, on both sides of the border.

Joseph Brunaccioni, director of 2 Maison Parc Court condos in Thornhill, has made it loud and clear that he isn’t against development or intensification. But the current proposals in Toronto shows “disrespect to all existing neighbourhoods,” Brunaccioni said.

He has already made some allies in Toronto.

He and Allan Glube of the Ridgegate Ratepayers Association (RRA) have told their local councillors in their own separate deputations in Toronto and Vaughan that these bids are too intense.

The proposed developments at 1875 and 1881 Steeles Ave. W. -- the southeast corner of the Steeles Avenue and Dufferin Street intersection --- will have a total of nearly 2,000 residential units.

These bids will also see the demolishing of the existing plaza at the intersection.

The application at 1875 Steels Ave. W. proposes to demolish the existing four-storey 120-unit rental apartment building and redevelop the site with three towers containing a total of 814 residential units, including 120 rental replacement units. The buildings would be 10, 38 and 39 storeys tall.

The applications will jointly provide a new “L” shaped public street and new public parkland.

So far, Glube said there are 46 highrise condos proposed or approved along or near Steeles between Yonge and Dufferin streets.

If all of these condos materialize, Brunaccioni and Glube say it will bring about 30,000 new residents to this congested area.

That's roughly the population of Stratford, Ont.

“There is no rapid transportation in place to accommodate this unbridled development,” Glube said in a phone conversation alongside Brunaccioni.

Also, there are no schools within walking distance of the proposed developments, and there's a possibility that these proposed highrises will shadow the retirement home located across the street and partially shadow Clube’s residential neighbourhood in the late afternoon and evening hours.

While the developers are hearing from the residents and possibly changing some gears, Brunaccioni is feeling fed up and wants support from his local councillors and specifically his elected representative Alan Shefman on this.

“It's a game,” Brunaccioni said.

“We're volunteers. We don't have time, the money or the resources to play the game back and forth,” he added.

Describing the situation as “very serious,” Brunaccioni said, “Allan and myself and many others on the Steeles corridor, along Dufferin Street, it takes up a lot of time, and we're fighting big corporations on these issues and it's very disheartening.”

During Brunaccioni’s June 8 deputation to council, Coun. Sandra Racco asked about the communication between the two cities.

Mauro Peverini, Vaughan’s chief planning official, said, “I don't recollect council taking positions other than comments forwarded from staff level.”

“We haven't taken a position on Toronto applications,” he added.

However, both Markham and Toronto gave their input from staff level at the development northwest of Yonge and Steeles, he said.

Also, Regional Coun. Linda Jackson asked if there were comments made from councillors’ level, to which Peverini said there were not.

'Matter of Practicality'

Coun. Shefman told the Vaughan Citizen that he will continue to monitor what is taking place in Toronto, however, his “prime responsibility” is to deal with developments in his own city.

He urged Brunaccioni to raise his issues about the Steeles and Dufferin proposals to the Toronto planning bodies.

“I have also kept apprised of these developments, including being briefed by the proponent and speaking with the local Toronto Councillor,” he added.

The councillor said “outside of the 5 or 6 proposals in the Yonge/Steeles area, there are no other development proposals that I am aware of between Yonge and Dufferin along Steeles.”

“In fact there is a much greater concentration in our Yonge Steeles Centre area than at Dufferin and Steeles in Toronto and I have not heard a word from the Toronto councillor in the area.”