Toronto Birchley Park | 46.2m | 12s | Diamond Kilmer | TACT Architecture

Northern Light

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May 20, 2007
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This site is park of the 'Quarry Lands' area in s/w Scarborough.

This is the Driving Range & Mini-Golf site, which is a leased tenant of the City of Toronto (property owner);

So I'm assuming (but not yet clear) that Build Toronto is the applicant.

OPA / Rezoning 11 285824 ESC 36 OZ Ward 36
- Scarborough Oct 3, 2011 --- --- --- ---
retail residential development
There is a lot of land here. I believe it is directly south of the tracks. If it goes high density residential (which it should for its proximity to the subway and streetcars on Kingston Rd/Queen), I wonder how many buildings could fit in this property? The strip mall to the south would hopefully be redeveloped with improved retail.
Plans for that piece of land come up every few years. I seem to remember there always being problems with community opposition, traffic issues, and environmental remediation issues.
Right now, the easterly portion of the site (I think roughly the eastern 1/2 to 2/3) is owned by Conservatory Group.

The retail abutting Victoria Park & Gerrard is under separate ownership.

While the City (Build Toronto) owns the area next to the railway corridor along the length of the site (former Scarborough Transportation Corridor).

The Conservatory Group, trying to take advantage of zoning dating back to the Scarborough Expressway era ('60s) has revived a proposal for a massive new high rise cluster.

However, the proposal is atrocious, and I don't mean the density.....though that is ambitious, and I would argue on the wrong (easterly) portion of the block.

Rather its just plain ugly and very suburban. (tower in the park).

It also pays no attention to wetland and woodlot that have appeared on the site; and its all together clean to me, that the site is environmentally ready for development, though its probably redeemable for the right price.

A link to a community blog on the issue.

My personal take.......

Density should occur on the City's lands and the existing retail site, abutting Victoria Park.

The wetland and woodlot should be preserved, along with a green corridor with bike path linking the two and hugging the railway corridor (providing the legally required set back).

Any development on the residual eastern block should likely be in the low-rise/townhome type density, with a traditional grid pattern of streets.

A 3-storey streetwall should face Victoria Park and the western section of Gerrard, with 2-4 towers set back, and ranging in height from 12 storeys (south section) to 25'ish near the railway.

But that's just my 2 cents.

FYI, I don't live in the immediate area (about 2km away) but do pass by the area frequently.
Thanks for that link Northern Lights ~

I do agree that the 2x 24 storeys towers, designed by E.I. Richmond Architects (a Conservatory Group favourite), is located at an inappropriate location given existing 2 storey single family dwellings located immediately to the south across Gerrard Street, however there are existing development rights approved through former Zoning By-laws that residents can not ignore, which is what Conservatory Group is putting their bets on :rolleyes:

The current proposal is not going to win any architectural awards, but is definitely not disgusting in my mind, the 3-tone precast and 2-tone spandrel colours gives it enough variety ... the built form does sort of remind me of the Altitude condos under construction in SCC (also by Conservatory)

A couple images for UT's viewing pleasure:



Could MODs update the thread title accordingly? :)
You're welcome Solaris.

But to avoid or un-do some confusion here....

411 Victoria Park does not refer to the Conservatory Site.

It is City-owned land adjacent to the Conservatory Site.

Build Toronto is taking possession of said lands and obviously moving to permit future development.

What's lacking here is a cohesive plan where development, along w/parks etc is addressed over the whole contiguous site(s).

Those being 3 parcels being, The City's (Vic Park), the retail site/Runnymede, I think, at Vic/ Park/Gerrard, and the Conservatory site (also a small Shell site)


On another point.....putting aside the density question, to me the Conservatory buildings completely ignore their proper alignment/siting/massing. They should face Gerrard, w/retail and/or ground floor towns, then step-back above the second/third floor to create a scale commensurate with the homes across the street, while still creating a welcoming urban environment and animated street-edge.

The proposed siting and massing does not do either, to the great detriment of the proposal.

Quarry Land negotiations at a standstill

Bid to swap land between developer and Build Toronto not able to be completed

MIKE ADLER|Oct 28, 2011 - 2:30 PM

Talks on a deal to let Scarborough's Birch Cliff community avoid a tall-tower condominium development on its Quarry Lands appear to have ended in failure.

Area homeowners have lived for decades with a plan to build 1,455 condo units on land beside Clonmore Drive and Gerrard Street East.

Build Toronto, a city agency that owns about half of the Quarry Lands, a vacant former quarry and dump, had tried offering developer Conservatory Group what it considered a prime property on Grangeway Avenue near Scarborough Town Centre in exchange for the Birch Cliff site.

But last Wednesday, with other offers to consider, Build Toronto decided the swap couldn't be completed, residents heard the following evening at a forum hosted by Gary Crawford, the local councillor.
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Those Conservatory Group towers are butt ugly!!
You would think that townhomes or low-rise buildings would be appropriate for the interior of the site. Certainly not towers in the park.
If a must, put them fronting Victoria Park. Park 411 Property Sheet_r2_0.pdf Toronto Backgrounder (Sep 2012)(3).pdf

The last link shows ownership of the lands. Is metrolink planning a station here?
Sigh...why are "tower in the park" concepts even being proposed? We're not in the 70s anymore. Having a parking lot or a private park facing the street should not even be an option. They should move the towers right to the edge of the sidewalk, and put the surface parking behind the buildings, if it's a necessity (which it really shouldn't be).
I'm really disappointed how this one is turning out.

This is the perfect site for townhomes, mixed-uses fronting Victoria Park, and a interior park. Which is essentially what they have, but the site plan is horrendous. Looks like those tall condo towers are planned for the very rear of the site to boot.
Bumping just because I was browsing through Google Maps and for the first time really, I 'noticed' this site exists.

It is a very large site, and with the Growth Plan, it seems like an ideal place to put some dense low-rise intensification along with some mid-rises right at Victoria Park.
So I took a little interest in this fascinating site and spent a half hour coming up with a site plan of sorts. At the end of it I figured I may as well not let the work go to waste and decided to post it:


Street Pattern - Purposefully laid out to discourage through traffic on side streets (safe for kids to play!) while maintaining connectivity and to allow for dense grid. Setback 30m from rail corridor as per the law.

Red - High rises
Light Blue - Mid Rises, some of the smaller ones are multiplex style walk-up apartments.
Dark Blue - Townhouses, all townhouses. With growth projections and a fresh new site overseen by BuildTO, I saw no reason to compromise on low-rise density with semi-detached and detached houses.
Pink - High School and Primary School. Hopefully there is a Middle School nearby.
Green - Public Park
FreshoCo - I didn't propose a development on the Freshco, minus their parking lot. I figured that the area needs a grocery store (and I was completely oblivious to the Loblaws on Victoria Park). This parcel could be developed eventually however.

Transit - I figured the nearby Birchmount bus made no sense looping up Warden. Send the Birchmount bus down Hollis Ave, then Clonmore Dr, then finally either Gerrard St or the new middle street in the above site plan and then up Victoria Park to the Line 2 Station.

My rough density calculation:

Townhouses - Average width of 25ft and depth of 80ft. I got about 7,850ft of townhouses if I lined them up side by side, so about 314 townhouses. That is fairly high 25 unit per acre. Nearly 1/3 of them will be stacked townhouses, so we can make that number a round 400 units. Average household size is 2.8 persons, for total of 1,120 persons.
Midrises - Lets say that 10s midrise complex on a 1.5 acre plot of land is roughly 175 residential units. We got roughly 10 acres of that built form which roughs out to being 1,750 residential units, which with an average household size being 2.8 persons for a total of 4,900 persons.
Highrises - Using similar density to the midrise but accounting for higher storeys, you get 525 residential units, which with an average household size being 2.8 persons amounts to 1,470 persons.

Added up, that is 7,490 persons in 2,675 dwelling units.

Now, I decided to take a look at what is actually being proposed.


The proposed rezoning, for the blocks indicated on the proposed Draft Plan of Subdivision (Attachment 4), would permit approximately 9 100 square metres (98,000 square feet) of retail commercial use on the western portion of the site fronting Victoria Park Avenue, up to 300 dwelling units consisting of standard or 'stacked' townhouses and apartments along the new interior streets

Oops. Turns out I did not look at how the lot shape and property ownership of this land was configured. :p

But beyond that, this giant parcel of land in a shoulder area of downtown, and all they decide to propose here is 300 dwelling units? I put 9x that number in my half hour sketch above!

This little exercise of mine just goes to show exactly how ambitious the City of Toronto is with actually fulfilling our Provincially mandated growth targets. Not ambitious at all. :rolleyes:


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Definitely not enough greenspace. I like the small block plan. I don't no how the northern connection to VP beside the rail corridor wouldn't end up a disaster. The building heights are on the tall side. Forget appropriateness. What's the appeal of plopping a row of 25 to 30 storey towers along VP? I think up to 6 storeys along Gerrard is a better height in providing higher densities and also compliments the lowrise community to the south.
Definitely not enough greenspace. I like the small block plan. I don't no how the northern connection to VP beside the rail corridor wouldn't end up a disaster. The building heights are on the tall side. Forget appropriateness. What's the appeal of plopping a row of 25 to 30 storey towers along VP? I think up to 6 storeys along Gerrard is a better height in providing higher densities and also compliments the lowrise community to the south.

I unabashedly went for maximum density to see how much I could fit in to the land area. I agree, that in reality nothing that dense should be approved and many storeys should be shaved off all around the site. You are right, that road along the rail corridor shouldn't terminate at Victoria Park now that I think about it.

The appeal of highrises along VP is simply that you can. It is zoned Commercial Residential, the towers on Victoria Park north of the subway station are in some cases over 100m, and we won't have shadowing impacts on the surrounding residential area. Assuming the Relief Line gets built, I don't see the issue with allowing towers along Victoria Park, they would be serviced by both the Victoria Park bus and the Birchmount-Gerrard one I rerouted.

The midrises along Gerrard followed a simple formula. How much height can you get out of them given the public ROW on Gerrard? I determined the ROW is 20m, which gives us roughly 6 storeys, then added 4 more for developer concessions. (Thinking about the typical midrise proposal around the city), then squeezed a bit more along the western side for smoother height transition with Victoria Park and since this is a blank slate.

Rather than being lost in the details, I think the point could be better stated as, we can do a lot better than tower-in-the-park, and 300 dwelling units in a site this large is pretty abysmal considering the projected population growth in this region and the provincially mandated Growth Plan targets that we must comply to.