When it comes to city issues, there are few that find unanimous agreement. I have found one: the southeast corner of Eglinton and Duplex to Yonge Street is in desperate need of a makeover.
Currently, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) operates a bus terminal on a portion of the land while another portion looks like a forlorn wasteland of concrete pilings. It has been an eyesore for so long that no one seems to notice anymore.
However, as the construction on the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit is completed and the other corners of Yonge and Eglinton are developed, the blot on the landscape will become increasingly pronounced.
For the next few years, the site will be used as construction storage for the Eglinton Crosstown. Once the Eglinton Crosstown is up and running, there will no longer be a need to operate buses at that location.
If the city wants to develop the area with some condos and office space, it needs to sort out the ownership of the site and consolidate all the pieces.
This might be challenging because the TTC sold a portion of the air rights to a developer. The developer hasn’t done anything but could prevent the site from being put to its best use. The other issue is to determine what that is.
Although everyone agrees something needs to be done, there are varying opinions on what should take the place of the eyesore: condos, commercial space or public space.
The City of Toronto’s planning department conducted an extensive visioning exercise with the community and developed a plan that included high-rise condominiums, wide sidewalks, a new park and a new street to take some of the pressure off Duplex Avenue.
The solution lies with a little bit of residential development, a little bit of commercial development and a park big enough to ease the feeling that we are being crowded out of our neighbourhood.
It is well-known that North Toronto has a shortage of parks and green space, and the area is growing so rapidly that a new park needs to be part of any redevelopment plan.
Eglinton Park is crowded, Toronto District School Board is selling off green space, and land in the area is too expensive for the city to buy in order to make a new park. Given that the city already owns the corner, it is a perfect location.
The city won’t make as much money developing a park, but city building involves more than just trying to make a buck.
I would also confidently say that, if there was a plan to create a beautiful green space, there would be another issue that would find unanimous agreement.
Karen Stintz is a former city councillor, elected in 2003, and was a chair of the TTC. She lives in Ward 16 with her husband and two kids.