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West Don Lands: Blocks 17+26 (Dominion Foundry Complex, ?, ?s, ?)

lomeri

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Though I do agree with you here on many points, and mid rise blocks can be such a successful model if done correctly, I think a large part of the issue with this neighbourhood is that the front st blvd seems far too widen for this level of density. I find mid-rise blocks to be more compelling when the streetscapes between them are design to be more human-scale and intimate. The FAR just seems off in that respect.

Front St could still be designed to be wider and more dedicated to public space, but you could easily remove 1/3 of its width and it would still feel great. Considering that approach and extra block area, all the blocks to the south of Front could be divided into two so that we wouldn't get these massive, linear building walls of homogenous treatment.
It's kind of a bit late for that :p

Honestly, I think the city should also consider allowing the restaurants along front expand their patio space. The allotment for it is particularly small for Block 16. This would add to the street and make it a bit less over-wide without purpose.
 

DSC

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It's kind of a bit late for that :p

Honestly, I think the city should also consider allowing the restaurants along front expand their patio space. The allotment for it is particularly small for Block 16. This would add to the street and make it a bit less over-wide without purpose.
What makes you think that the cafes have applied for boulevard cafe licences and been rejected? I agree it would be a good location but it's up to cafes to apply.
 

lomeri

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What makes you think that the cafes have applied for boulevard cafe licences and been rejected? I agree it would be a good location but it's up to cafes to apply.

I don’t think either way. I wasn’t accusing the city of anything, just saying as a resident of the WDL, it would be nice. Use up more of the boulevard and add vibrancy. And maybe encourage some new restaurants to make the neighborhood home. Perhaps applications have been made - or not!
 

allengeorge

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I have to agree with @lomeri and @everydayhim that the streets seem overly wide, and as a result, lack intimacy and feel ‘dead’. It’s like trying to put a small group of people into a large space: there’s nothing inherently wrong with either the group size or the space - they’re just mismatched.

In the WDL context, if Planning wanted the midrise typology there, we should have gone with far narrower ROWs, smaller block sizes and a finer-grained grid.
 

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I don’t think either way. I wasn’t accusing the city of anything, just saying as a resident of the WDL, it would be nice. Use up more of the boulevard and add vibrancy. And maybe encourage some new restaurants to make the neighborhood home. Perhaps applications have been made - or not!
OK, you may want to talk to the restaurant owners and encourage them to apply for boulevard cafe permits if they have not done so already - the boulevard is certainly wide enough to allow them. (There are none listed on the MLS Licence site as actually having licences, yet.)
 

everydayhim

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I have to agree with @lomeri and @everydayhim that the streets seem overly wide, and as a result, lack intimacy and feel ‘dead’. It’s like trying to put a small group of people into a large space: there’s nothing inherently wrong with either the group size or the space - they’re just mismatched.

In the WDL context, if Planning wanted the midrise typology there, we should have gone with far narrower ROWs, smaller block sizes and a finer-grained grid.
it doesn't help that the Front St blvd in WDL just ends at Corktown Common. Usually wider promenades are successful when they bridge two other neighbourhoods and thus pull pedestrian traffic through them. In this case, you have a dead end.
 

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I have to agree with @lomeri and @everydayhim that the streets seem overly wide, and as a result, lack intimacy and feel ‘dead’. It’s like trying to put a small group of people into a large space: there’s nothing inherently wrong with either the group size or the space - they’re just mismatched.

In the WDL context, if Planning wanted the midrise typology there, we should have gone with far narrower ROWs, smaller block sizes and a finer-grained grid.
Don't forget that WDL is still not finished and there are several buildings under construction and more to come. The area population will probably double in the next 5 years and if you create narrower ROWS you can never get that land back into public use again.
 

junctionist

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it doesn't help that the Front St blvd in WDL just ends at Corktown Common. Usually wider promenades are successful when they bridge two other neighbourhoods and thus pull pedestrian traffic through them. In this case, you have a dead end.

It's not a dead end. It's a major park and therefore a destination. Also, it's an access point to the Don Valley Trail system. I still think the amount of public realm is well conceived. The neighbourhood isn't fully built out. The surrounding areas aren't fully built out. With time, the extra space will be well used. If you don't build in space in the beginning, you end up with streets like Yonge Street downtown: cramped, lacking in greenery, and hard to change without pushback from various groups.

We've seen new development result in wider sidewalks, for instance in the Financial District, but you get this unsatisfactory patchwork of improvements. One building has a wider sidewalk. The next one doesn't. The next one has a colonnade, which doesn't connect with anything and barely gets used. It can then take decades or even centuries to resolve inadequate right of way issues.
 

LUVIT!

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I really like the wideness of this boulevard and the modern feel contrary to the overstated comments that this stretch is over wide, a dead end, devoid of people, sterile, etc. It is none of those things and as it matures and the empty lots fill up, and the trees grow, this will become and already is in my opinion, a very interesting part of the city.
 

Ward8

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I think the doom and gloom is vastly overstated. I think the north south right of ways are far too wide, and the blocks between front and mill should have been subdivided by another road, or pedestrian area. But the area also has some important successes and is a better template than most other master planned communities. In the end this will be a vibrant successful community despite its shortcomings.

Good urbanism, in my opinion, has many different types of streets. I think Front street achieves something great on this stretch because it is unique to the rest of the city. I go there often and it is more lively than people give it credit for. Conversely, on the north south streets, they opted to have identical side streets that are wide enough for 2 travel lanes, a parking lane, ample sidewalk and a row of trees on either side. Palace/Cooperage street, for example is way overbuilt for a street that services relatively few people.

The lessons here are, in my opinion, less about height or density, and more about ground coverage and lot sizes that are too big for one development.
 

Wahed

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This is very thorough. Thank you.

But to summarize: This neighbourhood in the middle of downtown Toronto is not one-third as dense as the TOD 20 km away. It is half as dense, once you leave out the large park that forms part of it.
Alex,

The West Don Lands is a dense neighborhood, far denser than the gentle density you advocate for in the missing middle. I am a fan of your ideas, but as a resident of the Canary District, I find your criticism of our neighborhood mis-placed. You and others have called the neighborhood and the Front St. promenade an empty wasteland and a failure (I acknowledge these might not be your exact words). This is simply not true. Again, the neighborhood is only about half built out. As a resident here are a few measures of how dense and lively this neighborhood is that the casual visitor might miss.

  1. Visit the local convenience store on any give weekday evening and you will see the steady flow of people in out, speaking to the vibrancy, energy and density of the hood.
  2. Corktown common's back lawn area is packed every AM and PM before and after work with residents and their dogs, so much so that the neighborhood is gearing up for a battle on whether to dedicate Lawren Harris square as a dog park
  3. Visit the the Front St. promenade on the next warm day we have, and you will be surprised at how full the public squares, and benches are
I'm not sure why you keep comparing the West Don Lands / Canary District with the 2150 Lake Shore FCR development. On what measure is the 2150 Lake Shore development's density more appropriate than the West Don Lands? This development (2150 Lake Shore) is proposing a 1 hectare park, a park 15% the size of corktown common (7.2 Hectares). As I've mentioned corktown common is already showing signs of pressure, so on that measure alone, the 2150 Lake Shore development seems too dense.

I've lived in the Canary District from day 1 (post pan-am games), and am now raising my family here. I'm writing from the perspective of someone who believes and lives density. Density has to be livable, not just a function of how much we could build. I think the West Don Lands serves as a good model for this.

Wahed
 

AlexBozikovic

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. I'm writing from the perspective of someone who believes and lives density. Density has to be livable, not just a function of how much we could build. I think the West Don Lands serves as a good model for this.
Wahed, thanks for the conversation. I’m sure this is a very pleasant neighbourhood to live in.

The big questions here: How do we define “liveable”? How do we choose to put density where we do? And, looking forward, what is a reasonable amount of growth to put in this particular, extremely central location?
 

W. K. Lis

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Wahed, thanks for the conversation. I’m sure this is a very pleasant neighbourhood to live in.

The big questions here: How do we define “liveable”? How do we choose to put density where we do? And, looking forward, what is a reasonable amount of growth to put in this particular, extremely central location?
To me, "liveable" means being able to walk to a park, grocery store, hardware store, bank (ATM?), school, doctor or dentist's office, convenience store, and transit stop, within a 5 to 10 minute walk. With windbreaks and trees along the way to shield against the north winter winds. The residential streets are not want-to-be expressways and no cul-de-sacs that create a maze for walking.
 

evandyk

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There is right now no grocery store, hardware store or school anywhere near the West Donlands. A small grocery store is planned, and a school is in the TDSB's prayers, but I doubt a hardware store is in the cards. You have all of those things in St. Lawrence, which is a walkable distance, but not 5-10 minutes.

Edit to add: I think the school in St. Lawrence is pretty much full, even though the neighbourhood is no more dense than the WDL. The TDSB is terrible for planning for future growth (not necessarily all its own fault).
 

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