Residents turned out by the dozens at two days of open houses in July and August to weigh in on a proposal for the redevelopment of Lakeside Plaza at 5353 Lakeshore Road. An application has been submitted to the city for a mix of single storey buildings (commercial uses), mid-rise buildings (4 to 11 storey) and three high-rise buildings (14 to 18 storey) that will provide 900 new residential units, 2700 square metres of office space and 11,955 square metres of service commercial and retail uses.
The existing grocery store, Tim Hortons, Shoppers Drug Mart and medical offices and services would be retained, with an additional 4315 sqm of new office and retail space, along Lakeshore Road and internal to the site. The Scotia Bank building at the South East corner is not part of the redevelopment proposal.
The neighbourhood commercial designation for this site generally allows buildings two to six storeys and up to 11 storeys with a rezoning.
The application proposes stacked, 3-bedroom townhouses facing Kenwood Ave. as part of a 6 storey building; a block of buildings at the north of the site ranging from 4 to 11 storeys, with additional retail/commercial space; a four storey office building beside the existing grocery store; two blocks of apartment buildings facing Lakeshore road with retail at grade, at 6, 10 and 18 storeys for the East block and 6, 14 and 18 storeys for the West block. The apartments will include both rental and condominium units, with some 3-bedroom units.
Parking provided is 1150 spaces underground and 200 surface spaces.
I attended three out of the four open house sessions. The people I talked to welcome redevelopment of the plaza, and are pleased to see retail be retained, but are seeking seeking a scaled back proposal in height, density and number of buildings.
Some of the concerns include:
- excessive height and density, creating traffic congestion and other impacts on the surrounding neighbourhood streets
- incompatibility with the character of the existing neighbourhood
- lack of infrastructure (roads, sewers and more) to accommodate the proposal
- proposal is beyond the existing and new Official Plan provisions (up to 6 storeys and 11 storeys respectively)
- insufficient parking for the residential units, visitors and businesses, leading to spillover parking on adjacent neighbourhood streets
- too many access points from the site to local roads (two on Kenwood Ave, two on Hampton Heath, one onto Lakeshore Road)
- tallest buildings at the front of the site; preference for taller buildings at the back scaling down to Lakeshore Road
- preference for mid-rise form, in keeping with existing Official Plan/Zoning provisions
- doesn’t respect the detailed public feedback provided at the public visioning session in 2015
- concerns about fast paramedic access to taller buildings for medical emergencies and in power outages, as well as size of elevators in some new buildings that don’t necessarily accommodate stretchers
- impact of construction. The project is proposed to be built in stages that could take anywhere from seven to 15 years to complete.
As this project requires an Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendment, it will require a council vote, to approve, reject or approve the project with modifications. In terms of next steps, the applicant is proposing an additional community meeting in January 2019 to present any changes to the project in light of public input received to date, with a Statutory Public Meeting at City Hall in March and a recommendation from staff for a decision by council in May 2019.
More information about the project, including reports submitted by the applicant, can be found on the city’s project page here: Lakeside Plaza Redevelopment
My Take: I support redevelopment of the plaza with a scaled back project (less height/density), and other changes in keeping with resident input. I will also be looking for affordable housing units as part of the overall mix.
A number of residents asked about future plans for Skyway Arena, adjacent to this site. This is planned for a complete rebuild in 2020, with larger ice surface, warm viewing room, meeting rooms, seniors programming, and more change rooms. More details here: Skyway Arena redevelopment proposed for 2020