As part of her community involvement, Judy Budzinsky made the following planning submission on the Lake Promenade Co-Tenancy Project.
PLANNING SUBMISSION BY JUDY BUDZINSKY, 334 LAKE PROMENADE, ETOBICOKE M8W 1B6
firstname.lastname@example.org, dated: July 7th, 2023
To: City Planner Udoh-Orok@Toronto.ca
Reference: Submission re Proposal re Development of 220 to 240 Lake Promenade and 21 to 31 Park Boulevard
My vision of Long Branch and a question whether Long Branch is the beginning of a lakefront wall of high rises. Much has been written about Toronto’s waterfront. Some development has been good, like Sugar Beach, and others not, such as the Miami-style wall of high rises blocking visual access to the water along Toronto’s waterfront. Is the cancer spreading west?
I am writing simply as a resident of Long Branch for 53 years, my husband for 75 years, and want to ask you what waterfront development means to you. This is a personal observation regarding topographical layouts and the Water Front Plan.
Five new buildings, two of which are 30 stories high, are being discussed along the Lake Front. The challenge is to decide whether such height, like middle fingers pointing skyward in the centre of a historic village of homes, is consistent with 30 years of waterfront planning. I am leaving the issue of density, infrastructure and affordability to renters or buyers to other neighbours. Much praised historic plans dating from former Mayor David Crombie’s Royal Commissions call for a vision of ”a beautiful active and connected waterfront….efforts to improve the tree canopy….open spaces that provide visual connections to Lake Ontario…and interpret and celebrate the area heritage”.
My question to planners is whether Lake Front High Rises contradict this waterfront concept or will it lead to a Miami Wall blocking the Lakefront’s view for the historic village of Long Branch.
I was surprised when no one, yes no one, not even our planners for the city or the experienced architect hired by the developer, had ever researched material on the proposal. Crombie’s Report cost us millions, yet they are ignored and wasted Tax dollars. Context is critical in forming an opinion, any opinion. Historical purpose and expected change are essential. Crombie’s Report keeps repeating this message. Yet some city people said it was irrelevant even though they never read it. Here, we have a discussion based on one-sided views called confirmation bias. The presenters talked about height being attractive to this area, but we all knew the first high-rise would set a precedent for others in making a Miami Beach wall visually closing off the Lake. Everything about this plan is contrary to the Reports long-term vision. The idea troubled Crombie and the many experts who presented at the Commission: no more Lake, just a wall of concrete and red bricks. The village will die.
The developer and the Provincial government will call us “NIMBYS,” those against more affordable housing. They are framing their position to justify their plan, and it’s misleading. Don’t be misled by false Prophets. Most residents appreciate those needs for affordability, but to replace good low-rise with current reasonable rents, the high-rise plan will make affordable housing unaffordable. It isn’t logical to think that unobscured Lakefront views will be within reach of our children seeking homes. It’s pure gentrification for profit. Most Long Branch citizens and businesses would welcome development but not here. Let’s revitalize Lakeshore Boulevard with building matching the neighbourhood’s historic character. Like the ”Clock Tower,” plenty of land exists to rejuvenate. Keep the Lake view for everyone.
When the developer was asked what he expected for the Condo’s selling price, he said, “he didn’t know”; I wondered how one is about to spend millions on work and would know his anticipated profits. I ask for Transparency. Was the reason he wouldn’t disclose because the plan wouldn’t fit the Province’s campaign for affordable housing? Million-dollar units don’t quite fit the image. Countering his silence, if he sold them at a million dollars per unit, which is not unreasonable, and perhaps too low, for that location, could he explain how it is not gentrification but a desire to provide reasonable-cost homes? According to our view and that of the Crombie Commission, the development should be along Lakeshore Boulevard, where the land is cheaper and more affordable. Historically, it would maintain the unique village atmosphere while increasing the ability for more people to enjoy its character.
As an aside, I believe in transparency and the uniqueness of this project; I ask our elected politicians to disclose whether the developer or the corporation has contributed to any of the parties and how much[i] have. I make no accusation here, but in Court, one can ask a witness this type of question to see if there is a motive to the witness’s evidence which can affect good faith and reliability. This is not an allegation of bad faith here but merely a demand for transparency in an era when the public is losing confidence in the democratic system.
The proposal spoke about parks and trees, an attempt to recognize the historical village walks and history. But the plan, only when asked, didn’t talk about tree protection but provided only replacement trees. Yes, young smaller trees about 15’ high replacing hundred-year-old 40’ trees — not the mature ones that shade our neighbourhood today.
My mother’s street, 33rd, a street of homes and access to the public school, will become a major artery for a few thousand new residents. The road needs a stoplight or viable means to access Lakeshore Boulevard Traffic efficiently.
Yes, Long Branch could use more housing; businesses would grow. New Shops would blossom, and the village would undergo a re-birth not seen since the opening of Cloverdale or Sherway. The commercial area where my parents had their Fish and Chips Restaurant called the Boulevard would have welcomed the added business. However, doesn’t logic suggest low rise near the Lake and High rise near the highways instead of having a village between two walls of towers? To keep a community connected to the water per the height line, put the buildings on Lakeshore Boulevard with heights sloping downward consistent with the most prominent visual connection to the lake. Is walling off the Lake the best solution to our housing needs when there are natural alternatives that will provide more affordable homes? Waterfront property will be expensive, beyond their means. Let the high risers have the trees and lake, and leave the homeowners with at least a horizon rather than cement.
The residents of Long Branch appreciate the need for more reasonable housing. This is not Nimbyism. We are a progressive, welcoming community. In the 50s, it became home to many Maritimers and Immigrants coming to Toronto to find work. Before gentrification, it was a ‘blue collar’ town with industrial centrepieces such as Goodyear Tire and Anaconda. We accept low-rise apartments along the Lake. From a community perspective, there are better and more available alternatives. Lakeshore Boulevard is ideal for extra density and building new condominiums and reasonably priced rentals. Construction is currently happening along the main street, Lakeshore Boulevard. Some apartments, townhomes, and more are being made, like the iconic Clock Tower. Lake Front High Rises dramatically alter the community’s evolutionary character.
Doesn’t retaining Lake Front Developments’ concepts and the connection with the water make sense? You will build high rises along The Lakeshore Highway, where property prices are more affordable, and the site line looks down to the Lake. Property owners south of the high-rise would still see the sky and the openness of the waterfront.
This is a critical time for decision-making. We need a clear vision statement from our politicians. We need a logical redevelopment of the Lakeshore rather than the fingers of giants popping up over the tree lines blocking views. The character of Long Branch south of Lakeshore is a park-like environment unique to Toronto. Credit is given to the builders of the Clock Tower and their attempts to maintain the village’s character while adding much-needed housing and keeping heights at a reasonable level.
Biking on trails like the Waterfront is more than passing blocks of potential high rises.
The entire concept of Lake Front High Rises differs from the original idea of the waterfront, its character, and its openness. I suggest keeping it low near the water and reading the reports.
MUCH OF THIS RESEARCH WAS TO DEAL WITH TORONTO’S PROPOSAL FOR THE OLYMPICS. THE IDEA WAS TO MAKE TORONTO A WORLD-CLASS CITY. It was more than a proposal for revitalizing the industrial area but a vision of Toronto from Etobicoke Creek to the West and as far East as Ashbridges Bay. It was intended to surpass what Chicago was doing with their waterfront, then an international gold standard for planning. It certainly wasn’t an effort to mimic Miami Beach or start building a Trump-like Wall. Why haven’t our planners ever read this historical Commission Report? Research is part of planning, eh?
Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront, Government of Canada Publications, https://publications.gc.ca › site › eng › publication
Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront : interim report / David Crombie, Commissioner.: Z1-1988-1E-PDF ·
Toronto’s waterfront and the sustainable city : final report … https://publications.gc.ca › site › eng › publication
,. .. and the sustainable city : final report / [published by] Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront ; David Crombie, commissioner.
Regeneration: Toronto’s waterfront and the sustainable city: final report / By David Crombie, Commissioner. : Z1-1988/1-1992E.
The report constantly reminds us to:
- Preserve the Heritage
“The past is important: it tells us where we have come from, what shapes us, and influences what we will become. The built environment — historically, architecturally, and culturally rich buildings, districts, and landscapes — gives us a sense of place… It provides a physical bond with a shared past and helps provide mental and physical stability in a rapidly changing world”. 
“High—rise developments, which are designed to give residents excellent views of the waterfront, often do so at the cost of blocking the views to others. They overshadow public open spaces, destroy the feeling of space and openness the waterfront should provide, and are a serious hazard to migrating birds.”
- Maintain the view and contact with the Lake.
“Waterfront development….should not establish visual or physical barriers to or at the water; high rise development not be permitted, on the Etobicoke waterfront as located east of Royal York Road in the Mimico section……… differences in scale and form between new and old are striking. New waterfront development has been exclusive water’s-edge condominiums catering to upscale adult lifestyles. Moreover, these developments are self-contained-closed and insular vertical communities that appear to exist in isolation while exploiting the uniqueness of their waterfront locations and views of the waterfront………. “.
This report generated a task force ordered by the three levels of government, with personal involvement by Prime Minister Chretien, Premier Harris and Mayor Lastman presenting ideas in 1992 with their significant recommendations consistent with Crombie’s Commission that there be connectivity between the people and the water avoiding building a wall of hi-rises. GOOGLE: Toronto.ca, “Our Toronto Waterfront” chaired by Robert Fung. The Committee recommended.
- Make the water’s edge an accessible public amenity from Etobicoke through the Central Waterfront to Scarborough.
- Reconnect the City of Toronto with its waterfront from a physical, economic and social point of view. The waterfront must be a place of fun, excitement and entertainment all year round.
- Remove the elevated Gardiner Expressway in the Central Waterfront and provide a new road and transportation network to serve Toronto’s downtown better and revitalize the waterfront.
- Maintain Low heights along the water to maintain sightlines.
The Royal Commission Report must be read and considered. One must also consider the subsequent Task Force Report that confirmed again the Royal Commission’s view of connectivity between the water and the whole historical community.
Long Branch historically gave home to low-income earners and will continue to play its role but not at the expense of the waterfront, where large high-rises block the majority for a view of the horizon and destroy a historic neighbourhood. Gentrification is something most of us reject.
July 7th 2023
SUBMITTED BY JUDY BUDZINSKY, LONG BRANCH RESIDENT, 334 LAKE PROMENADE, M8W 1B6.
THE DIAMOND-SCHMITT AND KIRKLAND COMMENTS TO THE CROMBIE ROYAL COMMISSION
I noticed during meetings that much of the public saw this as a political money grab. This lack of public confidence concerns me as an ordinary citizen. I make no such allegation with this submission. But in the late 80s and early 90s my husband as Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Criminal Law oversaw a special police investigation called ‘Project 80’ regarding municipal corruption. It found among other things, a failure of ethics, not necessarily criminal, on the part of several politicians that suggested benefits for favourable votes, such as trips or dinners or political contributions. I make this point here since the public trust in our politicians is at a low point in our history. In order to rebuild democratic confidence in our institutions, a duty for our elected officials, I feel it necessary that politicians and developers declare any possible conflicts such as contributions to or from the individual involved as a matter of transparency and practice. This avoids rumour, gossip and false allegations leading to a prevalence of destructive conspiracy theories. There is nothing wrong with political contributions providing they are transparent.
From: Judy Budzinsky <email@example.com>
Sent: June 8, 2023
To: Councillor Morley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Councillor Morley,
I am writing to express my dismay at the proposed redevelopment at 220, 230, 240 Lake Promenade and 21 and 31 Park Blvd. I have read several emails sent to you that have expressed my feelings in a much more eloquent way than I ever could. I completely agree with all the points raised as to why this is not a good planned development for this area.
A thirty story building towering over Long Branch where all other buildings are no more than eight stories is absurd. And tall buildings on the waterfront are not appropriate! This was once a cottage area. My father came to his cottage, which was across the road from 220 Lake Promenade, from Toronto by street car when he was a boy. My husband and I lived at 31 Park Blvd. for three years when we were first married. So I have a personal attachment to this beautiful spot.
You campaigned and I voted for you because you were supporting more affordable rental housing for our area. This proposal is going to tear down five buildings of rental units and build condos with “some rentals”. I hope you and your fellow councillors will demand the project provide the same amount, if not more, units of rental housing as is there now and large enough for families. Why are they going to tear down rentals which are in such short supply? They should build somewhere else. This is such a perfect area for apartment dwellers without gardens to sit in, close to parks and the waterfront trail. All these people will be forced to move away and to where? But it is important to keep the height at an appropriate level to fit into the surroundings here.
Just as a side comment, we live on Lake Promenade a few blocks from this development and our ground is sandy. Will a big apartment be appropriate on sandy soil and close to the lake?
I strongly suggest you hold an in-person meeting where people impacted by this issue can express their deep concerns. Please do this. We need your support.
334 Lake Promenade