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The Revised Fort York Bridge Goes to Public Consultation

Area residents gathered to talk about the merits of a new, cheaper alignment for the Fort York bridge, and also a nearby condo.

A rendering of one of the original designs for the Fort York Bridge. The designs now under consideration are different. Image courtesy of the City.

A rendering of one of the original designs for the Fort York Bridge. The designs now under consideration are different. Image courtesy of the City.

Thursday night in the gymnasium of Niagara Street Junior Public School, residents gathered for a public consultation meeting on the long-awaited, long-delayed Fort York pedestrian bridge.

The bridge was originally planned as an S-curve shape, spanning the Kitchener and Lakeshore GO lines from the Stanley Park extension in the north to Garrison Common in the south. This came with a cost estimate of $26.269 million. Council balked at the expense and cancelled construction in May 2011. At a meeting the following November, council reinstated the project when staff came back with cheaper alignment alternatives that preserved the bridge’s original design, all of which were estimated to cost between $18 and $19.7 million. Those were the ones displayed at last night’s meeting.

The Ordnance Triangle, a new condo development going up next to the bridge, also had to be taken under consideration during the redesign. To integrate the bridge with the building, the new plans propose a grassy berm between the two rail lines, and Ordnance Triangle’s developers have applied to have that area rezoned as a park. The pedestrian bridge would be split into two bridges, with the berm between them. The future park would be part of the nearby condo development.

“The development makes the land bridge between the two bridges much more feasible than originally planned,” said Stephen Schijns, a manager of infrastructure planning for the City. “The original bridge plan in 2009 flew right over the Ordnance Triangle and didn’t touch down. It links the bridge with Liberty Village and creates that whole east-west linkage that is a tremendous attribute to the bridge. At the same time, by allowing the bridge to shrink into two separate bridges, it makes a dramatic reduction in the cost.”

But at last night’s meeting, residents paid far more attention to the proposed condo cluster: a group of three buildings going up at Ordnance Street and Strachan Avenue. The developer staged an impressive presentation involving a rendered fly-through video of what the completed neighbourhood would look like, starting from Strachan and zipping down Ordnance, following a walking path to the bridge, then around and back to Strachan.

The condos, like many being built these days, are mixed use, meaning they have retail and services at ground level. There was the fear among some of the attendees at the meeting that these buildings run the risk of becoming a cliché. The idea of having retail and service providers at street level sounds great, but some attendees expressed worry that it would end up being filled with franchises and banks. The City can’t dictate who will set up shop.

The current version of the plan for the area also includes a public pool at the western edge of the proposed park in the Ordnance Triangle. Condo residents would have easy access to it, and people passing by on the bridge could step off the path for a quick dip. Some residents were intrigued, while others thought it would be a disaster. They compared it to the small pool at Stanley Park, which is always jam-packed. The hypothetical pool would be much larger. Funding for it, however, is a long way off.

Public comments on the new bridge design are due by February 15. After that, a design review will be presented to a review panel on March 28. City council is expected to consider an addendum to the bridge’s environmental assessment in May 2013, and a 30-day public review period will follow. Construction on the bridge, however, can’t start until Metrolinx completes its work on the Kitchener rail corridor in late 2014. And so it will be a long time until we can walk or cycle from Stanley Park to the waterfront without weaving through traffic.

Comments

  • larry

    how does this bridge link anything with Liberty Village. LV starts the other side of Strachan.

    And I am all for densification, but perhaps we could leave a little bit of green space for people to actually enjoy? FFS, its a small strip of land between two railroads. It doesnt need 3 condo towers and “retail” on the ground floor.

    • wklis

      Hopefully, there will be plenty of bike racks. After all, bicycles are a form of transportation and they would also use the bridge.

    • the_lemur

      Presumably you’d be able to walk or bike from LV across Strachan to Ordnance, then take one part of the bridge or another to Fort York or Wellington/Stanley Park.

    • milanista1

      3 might be ok, but they actually want 5.
      2 are already approved and they’re proposing 3 more.

  • jaaaaaaat

    “retail” on the ground floor of these condos usually consists of a subway restaurant, a gateway convenience store, and a defunct blockbuster video. I have no solutions for this.

    • John Duncan

      The main solution is time. Space in new buildings is expensive, and often beyond the budget of more unique (i.e. non-franchised) tenants. After a few years of depreciation, and some newer/newly renovated buildings go up nearby, the rent in older spaces tends to drop.

      • http://twitter.com/swrealtor Scott Watson

        We have space on King West for lease right at Stratchan which we are holding for a food/restaurant use that is non-franchised……your input on users is appreciated! Who would you vote should move in?

    • tomwest

      I’d rather have that than nothing.

  • Steve Hulford

    Anyone walking across that bridge in the summer will have the sweet smell of the abattoir though their nose. Other than that, this is a beautiful structure

  • SteelesAvenue

    “dont build a new pool, we already have one and its way too crowded” ?!?!?!? “dont buid main floor retail, it will just attract franchises and banks”- person who lives in neighbourhood centered around a metro grocery store parking lot. WHY TORONTO YOU SO SILLY?

    • http://twitter.com/Brian_Finch Brian Finch

      Agreed. At some point the city can’t be designed by committee and something has to move forward.

  • ladyday001

    Does anyone have a link to the actual plans and renderings that were shown last night? Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/Skellie10Ten It’s Skellie

    I never thought we’d live in a world where people would complain about living next to a bank.

  • milanista1

    The pool was the bait dangled by the developer and the crowd bit down on it it firmly.
    The real concerns here are the loss of employment lands (all of Ordnance St is zoned as employment, and the developer wants to construct structures that are about 90% residential, with a floor or 2 of retail at the bottom, because that’s what passes for “mixed use” nowadays). That is a major loss for the neighbourhood, which is sorely lacking in commercially zoned land, and already overserved for residential, with only more coming on the west side of Strachan, which is the eastern edge of the already far too residential Liberty Village. Nobody seemed to realize that the developer is proposing what would be far and away the tallest tower around this area at 49 storeys, which is wildly out of context. Currently the tallest building on Strachan is about 10 storeys, and the tallest in Liberty Village is somewhere around 30 storeys.
    The developers also touted the park and fantasy swimming pool as a backyard for future families living on Ordnance St in these buildings, and neglected to mention one minor detail. Not a single 3 bedroom unit is planned for any of the 5 towers at the moment. 79% of the units are 1 bedroom, with the remainder being 2 bedrooms. So much more of the same mistakes that we’ve already made in Liberty Village. 1109 units in total, almost 900 of them 1 bedroom.
    Solution = Scrap the 49 storey tower & possibly one of the others, save that land for future employment/commercial development, and make this cul-de-sac an ACTUAL mixed use neighbourhood because this city needs to realize that 1-2 floors of the usual suspects (Hasty Market, Subway, a dry cleaner) tacked onto 30+ storeys of condos isn’t really all that much of a mixed use building.

    • torontothegreat

      ” tallest tower around this area at 49 storeys, which is wildly out of context”

      You’re kidding right? I suppose if you only look in one direction you might have a point. Fleet, Bathurst, Front…

      • milanista1

        Nothing on Fleet is more than 36 storeys.
        Front Street ends at Bathurst, and you’d have to go well east of Spadina, all the way to John St to find a tower that approaches 49 storeys, so that’s irrelevant as that’s not a part of this neighbourhood, no matter how far you try and stretch it.
        I don’t even know why you mentioned Bathurst as nothing on that street is even over 30 storeys, let alone nearly 50.
        Allowing 49 storeys on Strachan sets a very different precedent for any future developments in the neighbourhood.
        Thanks for playing.

        • torontothegreat

          You disingenuously suggested that the tallest buildings were 10 stories and 30. Now you’re agreeing with me that there are taller (36 stories). Had you mentioned that in the first place, your argument would have lost its feet. So, who’s stretching what now? 36 and 49 are hardly “wildy out of context” from one another, however your hyperbole is…

          “I don’t even know why you mentioned Bathurst as nothing on that street is even over 30 storeys”

          Oh, RLY? Right at Bathurst and Lakeshore there is a 34 story tower. Thanks for playing…

          • milanista1

            I said the tallest on Strachan is 10 stories (and it is, or thereabouts, at King/Strachan) and Liberty’s tallest is around 30 (which it is, perhaps a couple floors more). You stretched the neighbourhood all the way to Bathurst and Fleet, not me.
            34 storeys at Front/Spadina is not the same as 49 at Strachan/Ordnance. 15 storeys taller is substantially more, enough to set a serious precedent for future developments. Not that the comparison matters because east of Spadina is much too far away to be relevant, but 49 storeys is 44% taller than 34. So if that’s the new precedent then the next developer will point to this 49 storey tower and ask the city for a 44% height increase on that? No thanks.
            That tower at Bathurst/Lake Shore is actually at Bathurst/Fleet, and as I said in the very first line of my last post, it’s maximum 36 storeys. And it’s the exact same tower you’re referring to. The address is 600 Fleet. It is not a Bathurst building. As I said, nothing on Bathurst is more than 30 storeys, which continues to be correct. Do your homework, you’re embarrassing yourself.

          • torontothegreat

            “but 49 storeys is 44% taller than 34″

            Good bye.

          • milanista1

            You’re right I should have totally bowed down to your flawless argument which was essentially “I can see taller buildings from this site. so it must be fine”
            Everyone is an armchair urban planner these days.

          • torontothegreat

            Right back at ya kettle!

            “The Revised Fort York Bridge Goes to Public Consultation”

            Try to keep up, k?

          • milanista1

            Sure let’s keep going. Spadina is not a part of this neighbourhood, none of Cityplace is. The presentation itself outlined an area that didn’t cross east of Bathurst, or south of Fort York itself (not the street). So your nonsense of the areas east of Bathurst and even east of Spadina are irrelevant. Cityplace towers are within spitting distance of the CN Tower. Strachan and Ordnance is not. It isn’t my fault you don’t understand general planning guidelines.
            Towers in the mid 30s at most are appropriate for Ordnance St, Towers approaching 50 are not. Thanks for throwing this way off topic as the height of 1 of the 5 buildings was only a minor qualm of mine, the rest are appropriate for the neighbourhood. The real issue is converting dedicated employment lands into land almost entirely dedicated to residential.