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June 4, 2008
City of Toronto and Toronto Community Housing kick off planning for revitalized Lawrence Heights
  
Toronto Community Housing and the City of Toronto today officially launched the process to revitalize Lawrence Heights and the Lawrence-Allen community.

Toronto Community Housing announced the members of a consulting team and the start of an extensive community engagement process. Toronto Community Housing and its consultants will work closely with the community and the City of Toronto to create a plan to address current issues at Lawrence Heights that include the poor state of repair of housing, safety concerns, isolation from the surrounding community, and few social and economic opportunities.

“The Revitalization Plan - when it is completed - will empower the community and build on the community knowledge, community identity and community pride. I want area residents to think big about the neighbourhood’s long-term future and imagine opportunities to positively transform the area and deliver positive change,” said Toronto City Councillor Howard Moscoe.

“We want a Lawrence Heights revitalization plan that rebuilds this community from the ground up. We want better housing. We want a better mix of housing - rental and ownership. We want the community to fit the fabric of the surrounding neighbourhood. And we want tenants to have better access to economic development opportunities, social services and recreational facilities,” said Toronto Community Housing chair, David Mitchell.

At the same time, the City of Toronto will develop a Revitalization Plan that will guide future decision-making in a manner that meets the hopes and aspirations of all community stakeholders, builds on existing strengths and opportunities, and achieves broader City building objectives. The goal of the Revitalization Plan will be to create a liveable and sustainable community with a mix of housing, retail, community services and facilities, parks and employment opportunities. This comprehensive plan will also find practical solutions for creating connections across Allen Road, which will then join the two sides of this community.

Both the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto District Catholic School Board are partners in the revitalization. The TDSB has five school sites within the Lawrence-Allen area and will be looking at how best to plan for their future.

“We have a tremendous opportunity here for city-building,” said Gary Wright, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto. “With the help of our partners - Toronto Community Housing and the Toronto and Toronto Catholic School Boards, we are going to re-imagine 165 acres of publicly-owned land in the Lawrence Heights area to build a liveable mixed-income, mixed-use neighbourhood.”

“Toronto Community Housing will work with the consulting team, the City of Toronto, school boards, tenants and their neighbours to create a healthier and more vibrant Lawrence Heights,” Toronto Community Housing CEO Derek Ballantyne said.

A community meeting with Lawrence Heights tenants will be held tonight. It will be the first in a series of outreach activities that will include neighbouring residents, agencies and other stakeholders. Toronto Community Housing, the City of Toronto and the school boards will coordinate community engagement activities and planning work to ensure an integrated and comprehensive approach.

Toronto Community Housing expects to have a development plan and business strategy complete in early 2009. City Planning will be targeting the fourth quarter of 2009 for a Secondary Plan for the Lawrence-Allen area.

Toronto Community Housing is Canada's largest social housing provider and home to more than 164,000 tenants with low and moderate income - about six per cent of the City of Toronto's population. These families, seniors, refugees, recent immigrants and people with special needs reside in 58,500 households in communities throughout Toronto.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won more than 70 awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contacts:
Jeffrey Ferrier, Media Relations, Toronto Community Housing, 416-981-4252, jeffrey.ferrier@torontohousing.ca
Gary Wright, Chief Planner, City of Toronto, 416-392-8772, gwright1@toronto.ca


Backgrounder - Lawrence Heights and area revitalization

• Toronto Community Housing owns and operates 1,208 units of rental housing in Lawrence Heights.

• Lawrence Heights was built in the mid- to late-1950s by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

• Lawrence Heights is located north of Lawrence Avenue West and south of Ranee Avenue on both the east and west side of the Allen Road.

• Lawrence Heights is home to more than 3,500 people.

• Lawrence Heights was selected for revitalization because of:
- Unacceptable housing conditions: mouldy roofs, leaky plumbing, a complete lack of accessibility for seniors and parents, and expensive building systems like boilers that are nearing the end of their useful lives.
- 1950s community planning that - though well intentioned - contributes to social and safety issues
- Isolation from the surrounding community
- Potential for better use of land that has gone completely untapped
- Missed opportunities for partnerships with the school boards and the City to create better schools, recreation facilities, economic development and social services.

• Key elements of the Lawrence Heights revitalization plan will include:
- A phased approach that minimizes impacts of construction and relocation
- A green approach that preserves Lawrence Heights’ strong landscape heritage and its mature trees
- Improving housing and community health through better and more efficient use of land - not loss or dispersal of rent-geared-to-income housing
- Replacing any units of existing social housing that we close - as required by law
- Tenants having the full right to return to the community
- Toronto Community Housing co-ordinating moves and covering moving costs.

• The team working with Toronto Community Housing is made up of experts and leaders in the fields of architecture, planning, urban design, landscape architecture, development and business planning, engineering and community engagement. The project manager and lead urban designer is Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co. Other firms that make up the team include GHK International Inc., N. Barry Lyon Consulting, Dillon, The Planning Partnership and Public Interest.

• The Lawrence-Allen Study Area includes approximately 850 acres land located on either side of the Allen Road.

• Up to 165 acres land - mostly in public ownership - could undergo physical change or redevelopment as a result of revitalization process. The table below summarizes the land.

Lands, Owner, Area (approximate)
Lawrence Heights housing, TCHC, 60.6 acres
North Acres housing, TCHC, 4.4 acres
Neptune Drive housing, TCHC, 3.8 acres
Bathurst Heights Learning Centre, TDSB, 12.1 acres
Flemington Public School, TDSB, 6.1 acres
Lawrence Heights Middle School, TDSB, 5.0 acres
Baycrest Public School, TDSB, 5.4 acres
Sir Sandford Fleming Academy, TDSB, 7.8 acres
Streets and Lanes, City of Toronto, 23.0 acres
Lawrence Heights Community Centre, City of Toronto, 1.3 acres
Baycrest Park, City of Toronto, 23 acres
Varna Park, City of Toronto, 0.8 acres
Yorkdale Park, City of Toronto, 2.1 acres
Flemington Park, City of Toronto, 8.6 acres
S/E corner, Lawrence Ave. & Allen Rd., City of Toronto, 1.0 acre
TOTAL, , 165.0 acres

• About 17,000 residents live in the Lawrence-Allen Revitalization Study Area.

• The Allen Road divides the Lawrence-Allen Revitalization Study Area and the Lawrence Heights community. The Allen Road was the first segment of the Spadina Expressway, which was never completed. It functions as a high-speed link from Highway 401 to Eglinton Avenue West. There are only two places to cross the Allen Road between Highway 401 and Lawrence Avenue West.

• There are two subway stations in the Lawrence-Allen area - Lawrence West and Yorkdale.

• The consulting team working with the City of Toronto includes experts and leaders in the fields of architecture, urban design, planning, sustainability, transportation, engineering, energy, community engagement, landscape architecture, recreational and community facilities, and business planning. The project manager and lead urban designer and planner is planningAlliance, led by John Van Nostrand. Other firms that make up the team include: Lura consulting, Arup, MMM consulting, Halsall, Corban + Goode landscape architecture; dmA planning and management services, ward associates, Dougan + associates.


For more information:
Toronto Community Housing - http://www.torontohousing.ca
City of Toronto - http://www.toronto.ca/planning/north_york.htm


 

 

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