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Monday, May 17, 2010

Open Letter to Mayor Miller and Toronto City Councillors

The CCQLD Board of Directors sent the following letter to Mayor Miller and all Toronto City Councillors on May 17.

Mayor Miller and Toronto City Councillors,

On April 25, 2010, more than 1,000 residents in the community of Birchcliff in southwest Scarborough came out to an open field on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon, to save their community.

The core issues at stake -- how we go about building our city, and the ascendancy of private developers’ interests over the democratic voice of residents, if we collectively allow it to happen -- is a matter of extreme importance to all Torontonians. What's happening in our neighbourhood could happen anywhere in this city. And so, in the interest of all Toronto residents, we are asking for your immediate attention to this issue and your support.

A private developer, the Conservatory Group, has zoning rights to build a high rise complex of seven towers between 23 and 27 stories on a portion of property known as the Quarry Lands brownfield, east of Victoria Park and north of Gerrard Street. Single family homes are found to the west, south and east of the Quarry Lands; a railway line sits to the north. The Conservatory Group's zoning rights date from 1968, when the land was owned by the city and it was envisioned the Scarborough expressway would run through the site. The expressway was wisely scrapped, but the City neglected to change the zoning before selling a portion of the property to private developers.

The Conservatory Group's plans are unanimously opposed by area residents and local representatives from all three levels of government. Councillors Brian Ashton, Sandra Bussin and Michael Thompson, Member of Provincial Parliament Lorenzo Berardinetti and Member of Parliament Michelle Simson all attended and spoke at the April 25 rally, commending residents on their vision for a better city. Environmentalists are similarly opposed to The Conservatory Group's plans; a unique and thriving wetland now occupies a large portion of the land where the towers would be erected. City planners have said the zoning is antiquated, inappropriate and would result in a fragmented development that serves no one's best interests -- including those of the city, which owns the second largest piece of property on the Quarry Lands (land now assigned to Build Toronto). A hearing was held in February at the Ontario Municipal Board over a site plan and minor variance application, with the decision pending.

Regardless of the OMB verdict, we can all agree that allowing archaic 40-year-old zoning to run roughshod over overwhelming opposition from the community, local leaders and urban planners is no way to build a world-class city. Residents and the incorporated community group Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development understand and agree with the need to develop areas of land such as this one, but it has to be development that makes sense in 2010, not 1968 -- to say nothing of the impact on schools, social services, policing, traffic, the environment and the surrounding community.

As a city and a community, we can and must do so much better. We believe the City has an opportunity -- and indeed an obligation -- to make things right. Please take a stand and speak out in favour of responsible development. Should the matter come before council, we look forward to your support.

With warmest regards,
Board of Directors, Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development

Mark Brender
Wilf Longley
Karen Direkze
Reg James
Sneva Lee
Mark Nahorniak
Joanne Smith

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Quarry rally video

Thanks to Owen for shooting video and putting this together...