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Liberty Village

as a recent resident of LV (formerly of DD), i tend to agree with much of the banter in this thread re: development, what doesn't work in LV, what can work and what we may ultimately see from a design/built environment perspective.

on a related note, the growth of an engaged and active civic-mindedness of area-residents will also serve to build the 'essence' of the place. i'll be keeping a keen eye out for what kind of civic vibe emerges in the next few years (and contrast to city place on one end vs wychwood on the other). stuff like various neighbourhood meetings, opportunities to input and other bodies/movements (both not-for-profit and for-profit) that form to build the community. artscape, BIA's and resident's associations are clearly the 'mainstays' at this point-i'd be interested in hearing about others.

many noted that during the world cup, dutch fans congregated in LV at school and brazenhead to catch the action -while we'd all likely agree that designating this area 'little nederlands' is a little outrageous, i do like the fact that it became a place for 'something' at this early stage in its development...
 
spent a few hours in LV this past weekend. I hadnt been there in nearly 3 years and there has been some significant progress in that time. I love the energy and vibe of the area in general and to me it does already seem to work as a self contained community. There are some absolute gems in the area which tend to be the converted factory / loft spaces. Toy Factory Lofts looks amazing and when you compare it's quality and style to the new highrises you are certainly left a bit disappointed by the latter. I do like the way that townhouses have been used - not necessarily in LV proper but more so in the surrounding streets and along the railway tracks. I think that more generally the fact that the area is incomplete / a work in progress tends to influence a lot of opinions about it. Its hard to ignore the ugliness of empty lots, fences and constuction. Give it another 5-10 years before making a final judgement. I'd live here without a doubt...
 
I checked with Lynn Clay, President of LVBIA, and she gave me the following info on current and future population numbers in Liberty Village. These are not official numbers, but numbers Lynn has been gathering from the developers in the community and realtors.

"The LVBIA estimates that 7000 people are employed in Liberty Village in 500 businesses. I don't have resident numbers but I have estimated residential unit numbers for the immediate area:

occupied: 1500 units (highrise condos and townhomes);
under construction: 2650 units;
proposed: 300+ units.

You can estimate one or two people per unit."

So…if you average 1.5 persons per unit, then

today's population = 2250
coming soon = 6225
and possibly down the road = 6675+.

That means that today we're about one-third of the way there.

I could rant about how the development in Liberty Village is out of control, how you risk your life on a daily basis just trying to get around, how the congestion is ridiculous, and what will it look like when the population triples? Yes, there is a lot to rant about these days in Liberty Village. But never did I anticipate who the latest tenant would be in the historic buildings at 171 East Liberty Street. You know, the buildings where Toronto’s munitions efforts during the World Wars were headquartered and where over 1,000,000 Bren machine guns were manufactured in the 1940s? Yes, those buildings that have been so lovingly restored and renovated by Lifetime Urban Development Group, is the new home to, wait for it…Your Dollar Store With More. Welcome to Liberty Village, China.

How interesting that ToyBoy just wrote of this exact building last month:
As for Liberty Village not having a beating heart, I somewhat agree, but there are attempts underway to change that, particularly the Liberty Market Building's attempts to introduce a cool retail environment.

I love the cheesemonger, the soap shop, the dance studio, and many more tenants in the Liberty Building, but a dollar store? It's all wrong.
 
Nice post...Greatly appreciated!!!
smileyhappy.ico
 
I walked around Liberty Village this afternoon. It was chaotic to the point where it was fascinating... There was construction everywhere, several sections lacked sidewalks (temporary I assume) so there were cyclists and pedestrians walking on the streets. Traffic was at a complete standstill going East on East Liberty, as well as both directions on Strachan and was very slow everywhere else. I don't recall a single pedestrian crossing, so jaywalking between cars stuck in traffic seemed to be the norm. The mix of construction sites, townhouses, warehouse lofts, modern condos, the Metro supermarket, patio/terraces, modern lofts and a couple parking lots only added to the hectic feel. Liberty Market looked quite nice, a nice escape to the chaos, although there was still a fair bit of unoccupied retail space and maybe some construction (?). There was also lots of pedestrian traffic, the two small parks were getting a good bit of usage, as were the patio/terraces.

It looks like there will really need to be a solution to the traffic though. Since East Liberty seems to be the main thoroughfare and it's only 1 lane in each direction, it looks like traffic will be a disaster unless something is done. Does anyone have an idea where all that traffic is going? There are 2 streetcar lines and a GO station in the neighbourhood after all.
 
While I agree that traffic is going to be an issue in the area, today was an unusual day because Lake Shore was closed for the Indy so some traffic would have diverted through there.
 
While I agree that traffic is going to be an issue in the area, today was an unusual day because Lake Shore was closed for the Indy so some traffic would have diverted through there.

Yep it's not that bad usually ...

But I wonder why so many of the retail units are empty, they're on the west side and most construction there has stopped. Maybe rents to high or not quite enough demand. The new condos on the east will help but only a little I suspect.

There's quite a bit more retail then I thought when I took a walk through.
 
I would imagine that over the next few years, with the thousands of new tenants living in LV the retail will be thriving. There's just so much construction going on with all the condo's right now. In 2 years, the bulk of the buildings will be completed and foot traffic will probably triple.
 
I tend to disagree. While yesterday was indeed a disaster traffic-wise due to the road closure for the Indy, the traffic situation in LV is disastrous on a daily basis just purely based on the sheer volume and variety of traffic. Strachan Ave and East Liberty is by far the worst situation. I in fact would not refer to it as a situation but rather, carnage-in-the-waiting.

I'm not complaining about development, rather I'm trying to get the word out there that there is a serious safety issue here that is not being addressed by the City.

If you watch this intersection anytime during the peak hours of 7 am - 7 pm, it's not only the volume of traffic that's astounding, but the huge variety of traffic. With the combination of a) 6 constructions sites currently underway b) the massive Traffic Services division of the Toronto Police, c) a large number of residential homes/condos, and d) an ever larger number of businesses operating in the west side of LV, in any given 10-minute period you'll see:

passenger cars, trucks, SUVs, scooters, motorcycles, concrete trucks, dump trucks, street cleaners, delivery trucks large and small, police cars and motorcycles, court services trucks, TTC buses, pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, and the odd fire engine 'cause they like to shop at Metro.

IMG_2175.jpg


This variety is unusual for the type of roads that Strachan and East Liberty have been designed and planned for. Both roads are 40 km/hr zones with parking on both sides of the road, yet I'm finding it hard to think of another road in the city where the speed zone is 40, cars are parked on both sides, and has this variety and volume of traffic. Perhaps someone else can? I know the construction traffic will abide over the years, but that's only a fraction of where the volume is coming from today. The volume will only increase.

Many of us who have these safety concerns about this intersection were hopeful that a traffic light would be installed, however with the Metrolinx project now underway at the level crossing on Strachan, those hopes have been dashed. According to Mike Layton, everyone agrees that the intersection is a safety issue, but the cost of putting in stop lights would be $1.5 million dollars due to the need for a special switching system that prevents traffic from being backed up on the tracks when a train is passing. The Metrolinx project includes the building of an overpass so the issue of needing a special switching system will be moot once the overpass is built.

"Says Layton, “We decided that it wouldn’t be a good use of money and that we could manage the intersection until the underpass is completed,†at which point that much-needed traffic light will be installed."

So, over the next 4 years, 6-8 new condos will be moved-into and there will still be no traffic light? And that's assuming the project stays on schedule and is completed in 2015.

As a driver, a pedestrian and as a cyclist, I've seen my life flash before my eyes on several occasions in the past couple of months while trying to get out at Strachan. I hope Mike has some hidden magical powers that will enable him to personally "manage" the situation for the next four years or he may just have a death on his hands with a 1.5 million dollar price tag.
 
I'm finding it hard to think of another road in the city where the speed zone is 40, cars are parked on both sides, and has this variety and volume of traffic. Perhaps someone else can?

Actually a lot of major streets west of downtown have 40 limits and parking on both sides. Ossington, and College are two. But they also have lots of signalized intersections at where they cross some rather minor streets.

EDIT: I was going to post some links to Google streetview but they have changed the interface and the button to generate link has gone. Anyone know how to do that now?
 
Actually a lot of major streets west of downtown have 40 limits and parking on both sides. Ossington, and College are two. But they also have lots of signalized intersections at where they cross some rather minor streets.

EDIT: I was going to post some links to Google streetview but they have changed the interface and the button to generate link has gone. Anyone know how to do that now?

It's next to the email and print button above the streetview pane, at least in google maps.

The thing about E Liberty & Strachan is that it's only way to go to and from downtown and the East, and a pretty logical route (traffic aside) for a big chunk of people heading North and South. The situation couldn't have been worse, in fact while I didn't see the rail tracks, I wonder if traffic was bad enough so that there was already a risk of being stuck on the tracks.

I went back to LV yesterday around 7pm, although only to the Western part this time. Traffic was still very heavy, although not backed up everywhere. The thing is, I'm pretty sure other intersections should have lights too, like E Liberty and Atlantic, only King Street and Dufferin have some, there are none on E Liberty/Liberty (except at Dufferin). Do you think once the Strachan bridge and lights are built, that it will be enough? If you compare to Cityplace, Cityplace probably has more pedestrians and cyclists being closer to downtown, and have a similar number of exits, similar population (though Cityplace would be denser), minimal through traffic and similar transit options. While Cityplace is only about 1/3 built out West of Spadina, traffic at Bremner & Spadina seems very light, supringly enough. Maybe once you remove pedestrians and transit users, very few people drive?

Should I be surprised the city didn't start planning on dealing with this intersection earlier? Don't they do traffic studies when new condos are built?
 

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