169 The Donway West

Looking northeast at the 34 storey tower, image via submission to the City of Toronto.

We have discussed this development for many months in our newsletter and our monthly eBlasts. The site in question is at 169 The Donway West. This property was originally owned by the Government of Canada and was the site of the Don Mills Post Office. At the time The Shops at Don Mills were under discussion this was still the case. It was only after The Shops were approved that this property came up for sale and Cadillac Fairview purchased it, therefore, this development is not explicitly included in the agreement among the City, Cadillac Fairview and DMRI.

Cadillac Fairview proposed to build 2 towers on the site, one 34 storeys and one 39 storeys. The City held a Community Consultation meeting on May 31, 2016. This provided an opportunity for Cadillac Fairview to describe its proposal and for the community to react to the proposal. The reaction was overwhelmingly negative mostly because of the height and density of the proposed development.

Cadillac Fairview has partnered with a firm called Lanterra on this project (as well at the Rodeo Drive development). We have been working with Cadillac Fairview and Lanterra in an effort to see the project modified. There are numerous issues with the proposal. These include the height of the buildings, the density of the development, the layout of the development (i.e. building entrance off a narrow lane rather than from The Donway), and the requirement to build a park on the site.

During our discussions with Lanterra, it altered its proposal by replacing the smaller tower with a midrise building and they reduced the 39 storey building to 34 stories. However, that revised proposal essentially maintained the density. While this was a step in the right direction, it was insufficient in our view.

The height of the building is out of line with the current by-laws and with our understanding with Cadillac Fairview. The word “understanding” is being used here since, as noted above, this property was not part of our original agreement with the City and Cadillac Fairview. That agreement had midrise buildings along The Donway West and the taller buildings toward the centre of the site. While Cadillac Fairview did not own this property at the time, we see no reason why the spirit of that agreement should not be honoured.

Our discussions with Lanterra started in late 2016 and continued into 2017. There was an OMB pre-hearing scheduled for February 2017. That date was moved to July to allow for further talks. DMRI wrote to Lanterra and expressed our concerns regarding the development.

Current 12 storey low rise towers

“…the DMRI is expecting that any proposal for the siteat 169 will be mid-rise and medium density. We have set out the adjacent Flaire building as a guide to what is acceptable to the Don Mills community (Flaire being 12 storeys / 36m in height) and similar density. This ‘outer ring’ area was planned to be mid-rise and that plan was agreed to by Cadillac Fairview, DMRI and the City. The development at 169 should be consistent with that.”

Lanterra has not been available to meet since receiving our letter and Lanterra has now requested formal mediation under the auspices of the OMB. The mediation will likely begin in November of this year. It will involve the City as well as any other ‘parties’ which currently includes the Rockport Group which owns the strip mall across The Donway from this site. The City and DMRI are aligned in our concerns regarding this proposal.

We are hopeful, but not optimistic, that this mediation process will lead to an acceptable outcome, but we need to prepare for a formal OMB hearing. That will require the DMRI to hire a Planner and a Lawyer to assist us with the process. Past experience has shown that this could cost in the neighbourhood of $100,000. We need help from the community to fund this endeavour.