Joel R. McConvey is an award-winning writer and media producer from Toronto. His writing on nature and culture has appeared in Canada’s top publications, including The Walrus, The Globe and Mail, The National Post and Canada’s History.
His debut short story collection, Different Beasts, came out in 2019 and won the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, and his first novel is due out in 2024 from Newfoundland’s Breakwater Books. He worked as Director of Digital for SESQUI, the largest Canada 150 signature project, and won Genie and Gemini awards for writing and producing the 2011 cross-platform series The National Parks Project, celebrating Canada’s national parks. Having worked in diverse sectors such as healthcare, education, Virtual Reality and biometric technology, he brings his wide perspective to the community of Long Branch, where he has lived with his wife and daughter since 2018.
Joel is a member of the working group assembled for the proposed Lake Promenade development, representing residents of Long Branch Avenue.
Joel made the following statements to Mayor Olivia Chow and to Councillor Amber Morley’s office:
Letter sent on July 17, 2023:
Dear Mayor Chow and Councillor Morley,
I am writing to register a personal objection to the Lake Promenade Co-Tenancy development proposed for the base of Long Branch Avenue, at Park Blvd. I had hoped to speak to one or both of you in person at one of the public events to discuss the plan, but unfortunately my family had some health issues that kept me from attending.
The Long Branch Neighbourhood Association has done a good job of highlighting the injustice of Canada’s largest mass demoviction, and giving voice to the plight of current tenants of the existing apartment buildings.
However, the impact of this development will not only affect the people living in those buildings. A development of this size will have a seismic impact on ecology, traffic, infrastructure, pedestrian safety—everything within a 2-3 km radius will be heavily impacted. This is on top of the impacts we already face from the enormous Lakeview Village development being built just over the border in Mississauga.
I worry that the development means the virtual destruction of two beloved and well-used parks. Long Branch Park has already been burdened with construction for almost two years, and this plan would make it unusable in the long term.
I worry about how a narrow residential road such as Long Branch Ave., or a road filled with crossing pedestrians such as Lake Promenade, will accommodate an exponential surge in local traffic. I wonder whether my daughter will still be safe to walk around, with construction trucks constantly traveling to and from the site.
I worry that the area’s rich variety of wildlife will have their habitats destroyed and degraded. Birds, in particular, will suffer from a 30-story condo on the waterfront, and from the inevitable removal of many mature trees.
I worry how the construction of a parking garage will destabilize the shoreline, or cause issues with flooding and waste management.
In short, I worry that this part of Toronto that we love and planned to stay in forever will become unlivable, and that we will be forced to take our family to another municipality.
I know many residents of Long Branch feel the same way. In effect, this development will destroy the neighbourhood and community as has existed for decades.
Like me, many recognize that Toronto faces a housing crisis, and do not object in principle to a redevelopment of the existing buildings at Long Branch and Park Blvd. However, given all of the above stated concerns, there are urgent questions about why this development should proceed, in this form, at this time. South Etobicoke does not want for land to develop. And no one is foolish enough to believe that a 30-story waterfront condo will resemble anything like affordable housing. This is an opportunistic cash grab that will be marketed toward luxury buyers. It does not serve the interests of the city, and it will erase the existing community in the interests of profit and greed.
Please do not allow the current plan for the Lake Promenade Co-Tenancy development to proceed. If Toronto must repeat its past mistakes in building condos along public waterfront, it should at least be exploring sustainable development aimed at solving the housing crisis, rather than adding more unaffordable stock to the saturated high-end condominium market.
55 Long Branch Ave