News Toronto

Possible loss of commuter parking lot ripped

By Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun

From buildtoronto.ca, corner perspective rendering of retail concept proposed for Victoria Park subway station parking lot (2013)

From buildtoronto.ca, corner perspective rendering of retail concept proposed for Victoria Park subway station parking lot (2013)

TORONTO - 

A plan to eventually replace a popular east-end subway commuter parking lot with a large-scale development has taken neighbours by surprise.

Cindy Beman, who serves as board president of an adjacent condominium, said no one in her building received official notice of any redevelopment planned for the Victoria Park subway station parking lot — even though Build Toronto had posted on its site offering the land for a new residential project.

“This is crazy,” Beman said. ”This is a community. We need to have community input.”

The Build Toronto website says 777 Victoria Park Ave., a 2.1-acre site, is currently used as a parking lot and bus station.

“Given its location, Build Toronto will be looking at integrating the existing TTC services and parking into a new residential development that will introduce new retail and community space into the neighbourhood,” the site says. “We are also working on integrating a new affordable housing program as part of the residential component.”

When reached Friday, a spokesman for Build Toronto said they do not have “any immediate plans” for the site.

But at a city council meeting last week where the partial closure of the Wilson subway station parking lot was discussed, several councillors raised the issue of quietly disappearing commuter lots.

City staff responded that there is a strategy in place to gradually phase out some of this parking to encourage suburban residents to leave their cars at home and take buses to the subway.

As an added benefit, staff say, there would be more development around subway stations.

A motion by Councillor John Campbell that would have required the city to replace any commuter parking spots lost to development was shunted aside by the majority of council.

Beman said the loss of the Victoria Park parking lot will flood nearby streets with vehicles looking for parking.

The lot is usually full every work day, as are many of the commuter lots in the city.

“There’s not a whole lot of street parking as it is,” she said. “Already at our building we experience people who have gone to the parking lot, can’t find a spot, so they pull into our visitor parking spots.”

Beman disagreed with one councillor who said neighbours don’t like looking out at a massive parking lot.

“I’d rather look at a full commuter parking lot than to have another tall apartment building there that’s going to impact parking on the street, the volume of people there,” she said. “I get on that subway every morning to come downtown, I get on there anywhere between 7:30 and 8 o’clock, and it’s standing room only already.”

Beman said she contacted the office of local Councillor Michelle Holland this past week for answers.

Holland could not be reached for comment Friday.

aartuso@postmedia.com