Friday, September 27, 2013

No more cookies for this neighbourhood

I intended to write a post about this back when the news first broke in November 2012.  But I was heavily pregnant, and I guess I had some other things on my mind.

Anyway, having lost the recent Provincial By-election, Peter Milczyn remains the City Councillor for this area, so it's timely to discuss the future of the Mr. Christie's lands, which fall in his area.

Last Autumn, it was announced that the factory at Park Lawn & Lakeshore will shut down in the third quarter of 2013, after 64 years of operation.  There has been lots of speculation about what will come of the property, and the 625,000-square foot facility.  One thing Milczyn has been clear on, is that he wants the land to remain employment lands, rather than having skyscraper condo towers go up.  His thinking - which makes sense - is that we can't add to the population (via condo towers) and simultaneously take away jobs (due to the factory closure).

This area is already experiencing massive development with condos being built around the perimeter of this land, and the infrastructure is not currently set up to handle the additional population that even more residential development would add.

Mt. Christie's land right across the street from the condo developments on Park Lawn

But in my mind, there is so much more to this.  Just behind many of these new towers, is a beautiful waterfront, Humber Bay Shores Park, Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat, and yacht clubs.  The funny thing is, I bet most people in Toronto don't even know that it's all there.  For years, all of that had been hidden behind a stretch of seedy retro motels (which are now being replaced by the new condo towers).

Did you know this view existed from the West end?
In the past, from south to north, it was waterfront, motels, Mr. Christie factory, Gardiner Expressway and train tracks, and the Ontario Food Terminal, and then residential north of all that.   So there was no jointedness between the waterfront and nearby residents.  I think it's time to bring it together.  I actually feel that the new condo towers will help with that.  But why not use the factory lands towards this end as well?

More condo developments south of the Mr. Christie's land, along the waterfront

I get Milczyn's need for employment lands.  But does it have to be manufacturing?  What about a Lifestyle Centre, similar to the Shops at Don Mills, an outdoor shopping centre with retail and restaurants.  This would allow residents to shop and eat locally.  And it would also create more draw to the nearby waterfront.  A morning bike ride along the bike path followed by lunch at the centre, or a nice dinner followed by a stroll along the water.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find stats on how many people are employed at the Shops at Don Mills.  I definitely think it's something Milczyn might want to investigate.  And I'm sure there are other options for employing people rather than manufacturing, which doesn't create the most curb appeal for the neighbours.  With the already growing population, there must be more need for libraries, schools, community centres, retail, daycares, etc.

Do you have any other suggestions for use of the land?

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