The proposed big box development in Leslieville has been getting a lot of attention lately, and not because it’s a welcome addition to the retail streetscape in the east end. The land, the soon-to-be-former home of Toronto Film Studios, is currently zoned for employment purposes, which means that it’s supposed to be used to provide jobs that pay better than retail.
The city and SmartCentres, the property developer, have danced all the way to the Ontario Municipal Board to make their cases before a tribunal next month. SmartCentres claims that its proposal is not in fact a big box development, but is a mixed-use complex that’s sensitive to the community. Architect Jack Diamond, whose work generates equal parts love and hate, backs them up. Much of the community isn’t buying it, equating SmartCentres—and Wal-Mart, the rumoured major tenant—with bland suburban slabs that present blank walls to the street while stores front on vast parking lots.
Concerned members of the community will be holding a “No Big Box in Leslieville” rally on Sunday, April 13 starting at 2 p.m. in Jimmie Simpson Park at 870 Queen Street East. The current thrust of the opposition is to get Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Jim Watson to declare that the province has an interest in the case, which will allow the government to overrule an OMB ruling.
Graphic from the No Big Box in Leslieville web site.