The Don Mills Community Centre – Why the DMRI is Fighting the City
We have been asked why the DMRI is fighting the City of Toronto’s plan for a community centre. The City has not provided the community with all of the information regarding this important decision, so we have decided to set the record straight.
When the Shops at Don Mills negotiations were taking place in 2010, the DMRI worked to ensure that there would finally be a Community Centre in Don Mills. Under Section 37 of the Planning Act, a community impacted by new development can be compensated by funds allocated to an improvement within that community. A formal Section 37 agreement, approved by the OMB, was made between the City, Cadillac Fairview and DMRI which says that Cadillac Fairview will build a Community Centre at the Shops at Don Mills on City land. The City will lease the land to Cadillac Fairview for 50 years and Cadillac Fairview will engage a not-for-profit operator. The Centre would include fitness facilities, community use rooms, a gymnasium/auditorium and a competition sized swimming pool and was to be completed by 2020. This will provide a much-needed Community Centre in the heart of Don Mills.
There Insufficient Funding for Our Community Centre?
The City suggests that the money set aside in 2010 is insufficient. There is no evidence of this. Cadillac Fairview committed $17 million dollars, indexed to the cost of building from 2010. This amount is currently valued at $25 million or more and an additional $3.5 million in Section 37 benefits is also available to our community from recent negotiations including the 169 The Donway West development. The City is only receiving $12 Million in Section 37 funds from the whole Celestica development. Is this why they are proposing to take the funds allocated for our local Community Centre and use them for the Celestica site?
An Operator could not be found for the Community Centre. Not true!
The City suggests that they were unable to find an operator. The truth is that they didn’t really look for one. The DMRI was working with Cadillac Fairview and the City 18 months ago in an effort to implement the agreement and although the City was tasked to find a suitable operator; they have since admitted that they did not. The City put the talks on hold and then cancelled them.
The Celestica proposal is still in Don Mills. It’s not!
This statement is not technically true. Don Mills itself is defined in the City’s Central Don Mills Secondary Plan as stretching from York Mills in the north to the CP rail line in the south. The area south of the CP rail line has recently been defined by the City as part of the Don Mills Crossing Secondary Plan – a different community.
According to the legislation dealing with the section 37 benefits, “there should be an appropriate geographic relationship between the secured community benefits and the increase in height and/or density in the contributing development…… The priority location for community benefits should be on-site or in the local area.” A Community Centre at the Shops is perfect.
There have been consultations with the community. No there has not!
There have been no consultations. There were a series of pop-ups with small groups designed as sales pitches for the City’s preferred plan. The City held an open house on May 6th designed to sell the concept of a single facility at Celestica. When the DMRI publicly requested that Councillor Minnan-Wong at least inform the community of the existing, legally binding, agreement to build a Community Centre at the Shops as a third option, he refused!
The City knows what would be built on the site at the Shops. NO!
Councillor Minnan-Wong suggests the land will stay in City hands for community use. While that would be appropriate, once again he cannot say that since the City will have to renegotiate the agreement with Cadillac Fairview. Our local Community Centre was promised to those who purchased condos at the Shops and is still being promoted to those buying now. If Cadillac Fairview is going to lose this, they will want something in return. The City cannot guarantee the outcome.
There Will Only Be A Minor Delay In Construction of the Community Centre – Not true!
The City suggests that the construction will start in 2022 and be completed by 2025. According to the current approvals by the City, the arena and the recreation facilities are scheduled for Phase 2 of the project. Phase 1 has not even begun. There is a new owner who is requesting further changes. Therefore, phase 2 is unlikely to start construction until after 2025. A more realistic time for the Celestica centre would be 8 to 10 years at a minimum.
The actual choice is between a having a Community Centre in the heart of Don Mills Now, or gambling on something outside of our community in the future.
As we have stated previously, there is a legally binding agreement (available on our website) between the City of Toronto, Cadillac Fairview and the Don Mills Residents Inc. The City can’t unilaterally change that agreement. Had the City not terminated the process last year, the Don Mills Community Centre would now be under construction in the centre of our community.
What about the Celestica facilities?
We have no objection to a community centre at the Celestica site. There is sufficient money now to build the arena plus an additional $12M for some recreational facilities. But the Celestica development is a 20-year project. During that period, there will be opportunities to find additional funds to expand the facilities for the expanding community. Don Mills should not have to give up its local Community Centre which we need now, for one that may or may not exist at some point in the future that is not at the centre of Don Mills.
Join our real community meeting
DMRI is organizing a real community meeting for Thursday, June 6, 7 pm at Donway Covenant United Church, 230 The Donway West.
Erik Kalm – President