News / Toronto

Toronto reaches for 'pause button' on Yonge Street development

Chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, says it's time to push back against "megaprojects" on Yonge Street that are threatening the livability of the area.

Chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat says new studies, including the #TOCore project, have shown just how significant the

Eduardo Lima/Metro

Chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat says new studies, including the #TOCore project, have shown just how significant the "infrastructure gap" is along Yonge Street. That gap will only get bigger if condos are allowed to pop up unchecked along the popular corridor, Keesmaat said.

With nearly 1,600 storeys of condos proposed along the Yonge Street corridor between Dundas and Bloor, city officials say it’s time to “hit the pause button” on development.

Toronto’s chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, said condos are sprouting up on Yonge faster than the neighbourhood’s infrastructure can handle. As a result, she said the city is ready to talk tough with developers.

“We’ve done a great job of attracting growth, now what we need are policies to do the opposite, so that growth doesn’t override our quality of life,” she said.

Despite city policies stipulating that growth should come with amenities and infrastructure – things like parks, schools, public transit, healthcare facilities and even sewers – Keesmaat says developers are still pitching huge condo towers along stretches of Yonge where the density is already on par with London, England.

But that’s going to stop.

“When development proposals come forward that are not in keeping with our policy framework, we’re going to more quickly make it clear to the industry that it’s not acceptable,” she said.

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, whose ward includes much of downtown Yonge Street, has been dealing with the impacts of intensification for years. She’s thrilled to see Keesmaat tackling the issue head-on.

Wong-Tam wants the city to make better use the tools at its disposal to slow down the condo boom on Yonge, including interim control bylaws, which can effectively freeze development in an area for up to a year.

“Every block is going to be under construction, but we don’t have expanded TTC capacity. I don’t have new affordable housing being built. We don’t have an increase in subsidized childcare spaces. I don’t even have wider sidewalks,” she said.

“We need a chance to catch up.”

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