The King-Spadina neighbourhood is seeing a lot of change, given the massive amounts of development underway and in consideration, including the landmark Mirvish+Gehry proposal which is heading for the Ontario Municipal Board. On November 25 approximately 50 residents from around the King-Spadina neighbourhood joined city planners and Ward 20 Councillor Adam Vaughan for a discussion about community services and the public realm in the King-Spadina East area

Ward 20, King Spadina East Precinct, TorontoThe materials at each table allowed for both written, and visual comments. Photo by Eddie LaRusic.

Along with the upcoming King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District (HCD) report that will be released in the new year, the pieces are slowly coming together to establish recommendations and guidelines to make new development better fit into the area. Conclusions from this meeting will form a piece the recommendations and guidelines, and along with the HCD Report, will inform any policy updates to the city's Urban Design Guidelines, Zoning By-law, and King-Spadina Secondary Plan.

“We're really interested to know how you view your neighbourhood”, said Liora Freedman, from Community Planning. “What needs to be updated in these policies to reflect what's on the ground?”

The community, through prior consultation, had previous indicated concerns about:

  • neighbourhood capacity of things such as social services;
  • protecting employment uses;
  • implementing regulations on LED screens;
  • the distance between tall buildings; and
  • day care space availability.

Ward 20, King Spadina East Precinct, TorontoResidents gather at tables just before the meeting starts. Photo by Eddie LaRusic.

This meeting was designed to help inform a few of these points moving forward. The first half of the meeting was dedicated to reviewing the current state of social services and facilities in the neighbourhood, including (but not limited to) child care centres, libraries, and public schools. The second half looked at the public realm in the neighbourhood, such as where opportunities might exist to create pedestrian connections between streets, and what areas might be desirable for new public space.

Participants were divided into small groups, with about five participants per table, and were led by a facilitator. A giant map and Sharpies were provided in order for participants to visually describe their thoughts on improving the East Precinct area. The format made it impossible for UrbanToronto to catch more than one table of comments, but hopefully they reflect some of the discussions that were going on at other tables. Facilitators were taking notes at all tables, so we can expect that a fuller view of how residents see and use their neighbourhood will be presented in the new year when the results are analyzed.

Ward 20, King Spadina East Precinct, TorontoLiora Freedman, Community Planning, runs participants through the steps of this ongoing process. Photo by Eddie LaRusic.

According to city staff, the neighbourhood will be seeing a massive influx of new residents as developments are approved and built. The city estimates that over 12,000 new units are under construction or review in the East Precinct alone, representing about 18,000 new residents. New retail, office, and employment uses potentially represent 9000 new jobs for the East Precinct area.

Staff were informed by the Toronto Public Library Board that there are some gaps in the East Precinct area that could be filled:

  • Newcomer programs, such as settlement services;
  • School age programs, such as Ready for Reading;
  • Children's Literacy programs and education programs; and
  • Information/electronic literacy programs.

Ward 20, King Spadina East Precinct, TorontoA slide of the current, and potential density, that the King-Spadina East Precinct will be seeing. Photo by Eddie LaRusic.

Staff also noted that there is currently a healthy amount of licensed child care spaces in the area, approximately 1800, and that the school boards consider there still to be some spare capacity except at the elementary level Catholic schools.

Some of the desires at the table UrbanToronto observed included (but were not limited to) the creation of a new community hub – either near the Mirvish+Gehry site, or closer to Clarence Square – and bringing back some sort of library service (potentially a satellite branch) to Metro Hall.

Ward 20, King Spadina East Precinct, TorontoParticipants draw on the provided maps, highlighting potential connections and opportunities. Photo by Eddie LaRusic.

In regards to public realm opportunities, participants desired some more connections between Charlotte St and Wellington St W, and between Blue Jays Way and Clarence Square. They indicated that the pathways between David Pecaut Square and Simcoe Park were an example of the kinds of connections they were looking for. They also wanted to see some improvements between Blue Jays Way and John Street along King Street West, which they felt was very congested, and not as interesting as the blocks between John Street and University Avenue.

The information collected will be examined along with the King-Spadina HCD recommendations in the new year. Staff will be collecting feedback throughout December, so if you were unable to make the public meeting and have any comments, contact Liora Freedman, Planner at Community Planning at 416-338-5747, or lfreedm@toronto.ca. More information is available at the King-Spadina East Precinct Build Form Study website.

What community services do you think the King-Spadina area is lacking? Where do you think improvements to the public realm be made? Leave a comment below, and be sure to contact Liora.