Upper Avenue Care and Improvements
In the Survey 2020, members commented on the importance of the care/appearance of our Upper Avenue. There are several initiatives underway or in progress to maintain and/or improve the enjoyment of our ‘main street’.
- Back in 2004, arrangements were made with Works & Emergency Services to assign a full-time Bag ‘n Broom person to Upper Avenue. This is still in effect today – you might see our Bag ‘n Broom person going up and down Upper Avenue or you may see the ‘vacuum machine’ being used for the clean-up.
- Back in 2009, after the release of the Avenue Road Avenue Study, Public Realm added a number of the litter bins, benches and bicycle rings on Upper Avenue.
- An inventory of the existing litter bins, benches and bicycle bins from Wilson down to Brooke on both the east and west sides of Avenue Road was done in June, 2020. Requests were submitted to Street Furniture Toronto for additional litter bins, benches and bicycle links based on the current mix of shops and services. The requests are currently being reviewed and we would hope that we would see the new street furniture in the near future.
- The trees on Upper Avenue are also very important for the appearance and enjoyment of the public areas. SAHRA submitted an inventory of 163 trees from Wilson down to Lawrence (both east and west sides) to Councillor Colle and Urban Forestry in Sept, 2019. For each tree, we defined its situation with regards to Suckers (that need to be removed), Dead Wood (a safety hazard) , Weeds at the base, if it is Not Thriving and requires some attention, or if it needs Pruning (low or going over road or roofs) or Bracing (if bent over). Urban Forestry was to review what work needed to be done. In Feb, 2020 we did see a Tree Service pruning some of the trees. We are now working on an updated inventory so that we can determine which trees have not received attention, for resubmission to Urban Forestry.
- In August, 2020 we submitted a request to 311 asking that all the fire hydrants on Upper Avenue (401 down to Lawrence) be repainted as they are all in a very rusty/faded state. Toronto Water is currently reviewing our request.
The Avenue Road Avenue Study (2009) referred to as ‘ARAS’ contains recommendations to implement the Avenue Study for the portion of Avenue Road between Lawrence and Wilson Avenues, referred to as ‘The Upper Avenue’.
Between 2007 to 2009, City staff, consultants, the Ward Councillor (then Karen Stintz) and members of the local community worked together to study this area and put forward a framework for new development and the improvement of the public realm on this portion of Avenue Road. The implementation of this study includes an amendment to the North York Zoning By-law to create a new zoning regime suited to this Avenue segment, an amendment to the Official Plan and former Toronto Zoning By-law to recognize an existing ravine park and urban design guidelines to guide development on this portion of Avenue Road. By-law 569-2013 defines the built form recommendations for future developments on Upper Avenue from Lawrence up to Joicey Blvd.
Read this report to review the 21 Recommendations; to review the built form guidelines for the ten larger and deeper development sites (with a proposed height limit of 7 storeys or 22.5 metres) and also the redevelopment of smaller one/two storey buildings on Upper Avenue (with a proposed height limit of 5 storeys or 16.5 metres).
Read this more detailed report from the Consultant:
avenue road avenue study_finalreport_april2008
The ten possible ‘large’ development sites that were defined at that time were:
1. The Beer Store, SW corner of Bedford Park Avenue
2. KFC/Ex Toggery, SW corner Cranbrooke Avenue
3. 1648-1660 Avenue Road, NW corner Cranbrooke Avenue
4. 1677-1688 Avenue Road, NW corner Brookdale
5. McDonalds, NW corner Roe Avenue
6. Bruno’s/Drug Store, Dunblaine/Joicey
7. No Frills & adjacent retail, St. German/Melrose
8. TD Bank, NE corner Brookdale Avenue
9. Nissan Dealership, Cranbrooke/Brookdale
10. RBC/former Shoppers Drug Mart, Woburn/Cranbrooke
As of Aug, 2018, two of the sites (highlighted above) have been or are in progress of being developed as 7-storey condominiums with retail on the ground floor: 1700 Avenue Road (The Brookdale) where construction has halted, and 1580 Avenue Road (The Beer Store) where excavation is underway. Proposals for these sites have gone through the North York Community Council review process.
Go to the Avenue Road Avenue Study page to review the results of 14 Recommendations related to the improvement of Upper Avenue — intended community benefits for the commercial/residential developments affecting the neighbourhood. Not much has been done in 9 years to improve Upper Avenue for the benefit of the residents. The Recommendations implemented and to be acted on are underwhelming and disappointing!
We discovered in April, 2011 that By-law 541-2011 was passed which adjusted the Zoning designation to Commercial for certain addresses immediately east or west of Avenue Road, as well as allowing built form of 3 storeys and a height of 10.5 metres. The affected addresses are 378 Deloraine, 397-399 Old Orchard Grove, 394-398 Old Orchard Grove, 191-195 Roe, 188-194 Roe, 345/347/367 Melrose, 368-370 Melrose, 359-365 Fairlawn, 378 Fairlawn, 433 St. Germain and 444 St. Germain.
In 2014, ‘renovation’ proposals started to surface for the one/two storey small sites. These have proven to be very challenging for SAHRA and OOGRA to deal with since they are often initiated as ‘renovation’ projects that are managed through the Building Department, rather than the Planning Department which is familiar with the ARAS and the associated by-laws controlling built form. The minor variance applications are often heard by the Committee of Adjustment which also is not familiar with the ARAS Study, although some go to the North York Community Council if they require zoning amendments. As you can see from the individual site write-up Pages, it has taken a lot of effort by SAHRA, OOGRA and the Community to try to make these sites adhere to the ARAS guidelines and in some cases, they have not.
Small sites abutting a side street were able to challenge the built form requirement that there be a step-back of the building walls if the structure was 3 storeys or greater facing a side street at the top of the second storey, similar to the requirement for a step-back abutting Avenue Road. City legal stated that the wording of the enacted by-law was not ‘clear’. SAHRA engaged legal representation to prepare a By-law Amendment to correct this situation. By-law 107-2010 Section (f) clarifying the wording, as approved by the City, was approved by City Council on March 10, 2016. This is now enforceable.
Each small site development brings with it the same challenges as a large site – traffic, parking, infrastructure, community services demands – but there is very little that can be done to solve these issues with a small site. The demands of each individual site is cumulative, with the demands of all the other small sites on Upper Avenue until such time that the Avenue will reach a saturation point.
The guiding principles for the Avenue Road Avenue Study were:
- Maintain the village atmosphere by ensuring that development and public realm improvements contribute to a more walkable Avenue Road.
- Encourage vibrancy through a mix of uses, with retail-oriented uses at grade and a mix of retail, commercial and residential throughout the Avenue.
- Maximize opportunities for greening the street through private and public investment including ‘green buildings’, new parks and open space.
- Build on the corridor identity through branding ‘The Upper Avenue’, creating gateways, public art, signage, new street furniture, etc.
- Encourage revitalization with high quality development of a modest scale.
The residents of the area want to maintain the “village feel” / to be able to enjoy the shopping, restaurants and services. It becomes very difficult to do so/adhere to the guiding principles in conjunction with the development demands.