Retail developer RioCan has applied for a zoning amendment to permit the construction of a big-box retail destination at 420 Bathurst between Dundas and College Streets in central Toronto. This is a new course of action to redevelop the property after an earlier approach that started through the City's Committee of Adjustment (CoA) did pan out for the developers. Adjustments to permit new development through the CoA must be deemed minor enough for a proposal to avoid the full scrutiny of a zoning amendment application. Residents, community members and small business owners against the development of a potential big-box store near the Bathurst and College Street area, were able to breath a sigh of relief when the CoA rejected the variances that RioCan applied for as being too great. RioCan then appealed the rejection to the OMB, but the OMB upheld the City's dismissal.

Now RioCan has made a full Zoning Amendment Application for the site. This application allows for the full planning approvals process to take place, giving the public more opportunities to make their views heard.

420 Bathurst, RioCan, Turner Fleischer Architects, TorontoProposed RioCan shopping complex on 420 Bathurst Street by Turner Fleischer Architects

Back in June 2011, after Kromer Radio sold their site to RioCan, the developer proposed a 1.3 acre, 139,000 square foot (12,000 square metre), three-storey urban retail building to be developed on the site. The area is typified, however, by thriving independent businesses. Many local residents and small business owners expressed concern about both the competition and the traffic which would be generated by a big-box complex in this more pedestrian-scaled neighbourhood. 

The Bathurst and College Street area is recognized for its small, local businesses, which offer a quaint and unique shopping experience for both residents and tourists; Kensington Market and Chinatown are both a short walk to the east, while Little Italy is just to the west. The small shops currently lining area streets are intrinsic to the area's zeitgeist, and sticking in large big-box stores would forever change the community's image. 

420 Bathurst, Kromer Radio, TorontoFormer site of Kromer Radio, image courtesy of Tyler Anderson for the National Post

The scale of the complex exceeds maximums set out in the City of Toronto's Zoning Bylaw No. 438-86 which limits future developments in the area to more modest dimensions. Since the Bathurst and College area is categorized as a 'Mixed-Use Area', large-scale 'Power Centres' are only allowed to be built on such a site once it is assured that traffic and local businesses will not be impacted negatively. Particulars will be presented at a public consultation meeting which is scheduled to occur during the second quarter of 2013.

Aspects such as impact on neighbourhood, local business, traffic and environment along Bathurst Street will be taken into account, as well as whether or not such an addition to the community will affect business and tourism in the area, giving community members and small business owners a chance to voice their opinions on the issue. A final report will be issued during the fourth quarter of 2013.  

In case you want to make a contribution during this public consultation, or if you are looking for more information on the issue, please check out the discussion in our Forum or contact the Community Planner, Liora Friedman at 416-338-5747.