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Church St condo deal takes residents by surprise

Wong-Tam calls for more community consultation

The 25-storey condo development slated for the corner of Church and Gloucester streets is sparking fury among village residents and politicians.

Kristyn Wong-Tam, Ward 27 city council candidate, says the “disturbing” and “completely irrational” proposal points to a need for more community consultation in development matters.

“One of the most pressing issues in Ward 27 is the constant pressure of reckless development and how it threatens our local neighbourhood,” wrote Wong-Tam in a media release.

Wong-Tam is “concerned about the lack of consultation regarding the demolition application” and condemns property owners’ “blatant disregard for heritage preservation.”

In April 2009, the City of Toronto Planning Division submitted a request to the Toronto Preservation Board to have the properties at 67 and 69 Gloucester St, and 584, 592 and 596 Church St, listed on the city’s Inventory of Heritage Properties.

596 Church St, which is set to be demolished, was listed as a heritage property in October. But it wasn’t so much the developers’ disregard for heritage properties that rankles Wong-Tam as the complete absence of community consultation prior to the proposal’s approval.

Wong-Tam says the general sentiment among village residents is one of “alarm,” adding that few residents of the Church-Gloucester block were aware of the project.

“A gentleman that had lived there for 30 years said he had never heard anything about it,” says Wong-Tam.

Wong-Tam says she is committed to “sustainable, inclusive and beautiful development.”

“It’s not about being anti-development; it’s about responsible and respectable development, one that is led with community consultation,” she says.

Wong-Tam proposes a “holistic approach” to urban development that honours community engagement.

“They could have had community meetings; there’s nothing stopping council from that,” says Wong-Tam, “but there were no community meetings that I know of.”

A date for demolition has yet to be determined.