By Simon Hopkins
The ongoing dispute over a proposed highrise at the corner of Wellington Street West and Parkdale Avenue will continue this summer.
Housing developer Minto Communities wants to build the mixed-use project at 1186, 1188 and 1194 Wellington St. W. on the southwest corner of the intersection.
Its 2021 application was amended and finalized in August 2022 with a plan for a 16-storey apartment building featuring more than 200 units as well as about 13,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. The 0.6-acre property is currently occupied by a Rexall drug store and the old Elmdale Theatre.
The height limit for the property is six storeys, and Minto sought a zoning bylaw amendment to accommodate the project. The company’s proposal to the city outlined a traffic flow strategy and argued that the development would be a net benefit to the area.
City council ultimately rejected the proposal last year. Minto appealed the city’s decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal, an independent body that is the province’s final arbiter of development disputes.
The tribunal has had three preliminary meetings on the issue, and a hearing on the dispute has been scheduled for Aug. 14 at 10 a.m. It’s unclear when the tribunal will announce its ruling.
The two opposing parties won’t be the only ones represented in this case. Both the Hintonburg Community Association and Suncor Energy will be present as parties in the dispute. Hintonburg’s community association will argue against the development alongside Suncor, which owns a Petro Canada gas station across the street.
Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, who lives near the site, said the community’s reaction to the project has been largely negative.
“The majority of what I’m hearing is opposition to the building,” he said, adding nearby residents are concerned about the height of the proposed tower and the increased traffic the development would generate.
“I think there is significant discomfort that if this building is allowed to move ahead, it will see significant increase in [building] height in many more places,” said Leiper, who also chairs council’s planning and housing committee.
The site’s proximity to the O-Train lines, many bus routes and Highway 417 makes it an appealing location for many residents; but the local streets aren’t designated for the significant volume of use associated with high-rise buildings, he added.
Concern about the proposed building was voiced across the street in World of Maps, a store with a 29-year history in the community. Store owner Petra Thoms is opposed to the proposed construction.
“We won’t be looking forward to the parking,” she said, referring to the potential loss of space in the area. She worried that, though there would be more people living near her store, the traffic and loss of parking from the big tower could keep many other customers away.
Thoms said she would favour a building setback from the sidewalk with inviting trees and walking space. That would add value, but what’s proposed isn’t what she thought this community needs.
“We need more affordable places, but they’re not building that,” she said.
But Amandine Pajor, who owns the Amandine Patisserie French pastry and coffee shop just down the street, said she thinks the development would boost traffic in her store.
“It would be a good thing for me and my business,” she said.
Minto Communities, Suncor and The Hintonburg community association did not respond to requests for comment.