Toronto City Council has refused to amend the zoning of 328, 330, 332, 344, and 374 Dupont Street to Mixed-Use. A concept design created by Regional Architects proposed one high-rise tower around 30 storeys and two mid-rise buildings. A significant amount of retail/commercial space was to be included to satisfy the Mixed-Use requirement. The City’s Refusal Report lists the various concerns that lead to the decision. As site is adjacent to the CPR rail corridor, concerns for safety were raised should a derailment occur, but the primary focus of the refusal was that it countered provincial and municipal objectives to preserve Employment Areas. In the official plan Employment Areas are considered “hothouses where we grow our enterprises and jobs”.
Economic consultant UrbanMetrics projected on behalf of owner The Wynn Family Trust that with the proposed zoning change, employment on the land would increase to 800 jobs from the current 200. The City found the projection optimistic. The projected 800 jobs appeared to be more of an upper limit to employment capacity where as today the job potential is unlimited. The City also noted that the neighbouring properties along the north side of Dupont have few vacancies and create a healthy Employment Area.
The City’s emphasis on Employment Areas helps to maintain diversity in land-use and prevents Toronto from becoming a bedroom community of residential towers. Economics favour residential development over riskier commercial projects, but with higher risk comes the potential for higher reward. The City is trying to preserve the small industrial shop environments that may produce the next Magna, Research in Motion, or clothing manufacturer Canada Goose.
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