The following report is a pro-bono project by Smart Density as part of the HousingNowTO.com volunteer-collective. The purpose of this report is to provide a leading-vision of how to maximize the city-building and affordable-housing opportunities on the Kennedy station north parking lot site within the goals of the City of Toronto’s HousingNOW program.
The site is comprised of a TTC commuter parking lot at the eastern portion, and a vacant auto-repair facility with its parking at the western portion. The TTC commuter parking lot contains 199 surface parking spaces and primarily services the Kennedy GO and subway station. The site is owned by CreateTO (formerly Build Toronto), an agency established by the City of Toronto to manage its portfolio of real estate assets.
In 2019, CreateTO launched the HousingNow initiative to support and incentivize the construction of new affordable rental housing within mixed-income and transit-friendly communities on City-owned lands. The initiative’s first phase saw development recommendation at 11 locations, and its recently announced second phase recommends the development of six additional City-owned properties, including the subject site.
West: Hydro corridor next to the site and single-storey commercial
buildings further west
South: Eglinton Avenue East with six lanes of traffic and two service
roads, and the Kennedy Mobility Hub further south
East: Rail corridor adjacent to the site, and an 18-storey residential
building further east
North: Hydro corridor, and single-family detached houses further north
The site is very well served by existing and future transit, as it is located directly across from the Kennedy Mobility Hub. The Hub includes the Kennedy Subway Station and Bus terminal and the Kennedy GO Station. In the future, it will also include the terminus station of phase 1 of the Eglinton LRT, which is currently under construction.
The GO train reaches Union Station from the Kennedy GO Station in 19 minutes; Metrolinx’s Regional Express Rail (RER) project will further improve the area’s access to the core by converting the existing GO service into frequent all-day, two-way service.
The high level of transit service enjoyed by the site strongly supports intensification.
New development adjacent to railway properties is required to provide measures for protection in case of derailment. The Proximity Guidelines and Best Practices guide require a 30 m setback from a railway corridor to usable spaces, in combination with an earth berm or a crash wall. In Toronto, a 20 m setback from the railway to residential uses has been permitted in combination with a crash wall. Based on a precedent set in the OMB decision for 328 Dupont Street, the 20 m setback is required for any high-occupancy use and not only for residential uses.
Hydro Separation Requirements
The site is adjacent to a Hydro corridor. Hydro One requires that buildings are set back a minimum of 4.8 m horizontally from the outermost power line, but this separation distance is already fully accommodated within the corridor property and should have no impact on the development.
The site is subject to temporary easements by Metrolinx during the construction of the Crosstown LRT.
The Growth Plan directs strategic growth at locations with existing or planned transit stations with a priority on higher-order transit. The Plan contains policies pertaining to population and employment densities that should be planned for in Major Transit Station Areas (MTSA) along priority transit corridors or subway lines. MTSAs are generally defined as the areas within an approximately 500 to 800 m radius of the station, representing about a 10-minute walk. The Growth Plan requires that the City update its Official Plan to delineate MTSA boundaries and demonstrate how the MTSAs achieve appropriate densities.
Kennedy Station is of special interest because it is one of only a few stations with a subway and GO station (on the Stouffville Line) in the same location.
The site is designated Mixed-Use in the Official Plan Land Use map, supporting intense development. The properties to the east, south and west are similarly designated Mixed-Use. The properties north of the Hydro corridor are designated Neighbourhoods and will limit the height of development on the site due to requirements for providing transitions in height and scale towards them.
Eglinton Connects Planning Study
The Eglinton Connects Planning Study (2014) includes recommendations and implementation strategies to transform Eglinton Avenue into Toronto’s main East-West avenue.
For the Kennedy Mobility Hub, it encourages redevelopment to create an attractive, intense concentration of employment, housing, shopping and office space around the transit interchange.
During the public consultation, the majority of survey respondents indicated they were supportive of a mix of mid-rise and tall buildings in the Focus Areas, provided there is an appropriate transition to lower scale neighbourhoods.
The Metrolinx Big Move Regional Transportation Plan (2008) identified some major transit stations as Mobility Hubs. Mobility Hubs are major transit stations and their surrounding areas, which will enjoy significant levels of planned transit service and, as a result, have high residential and employment development potential. Mobility Hubs generally contain the areas within approximately 800 m of the rapid transit station.
Metrolinx completed the Study for Kennedy Mobility Hub in 2014. The Study provides a vision for the TTC and Metrolinx lands; for other lands, the Study only provides guidance to the City for creating a future Secondary Plan and for reviewing development applications.
The Study divides the area into zones. The subject site is located within the Primary Zone, which includes the area within about 250 m from the station, and it is where the highest intensity and greatest mix of uses are anticipated.
The Master Plan for the Kennedy Mobility Hub contains a few framework elements relevant to the site:
The site lies approximately 1 km east of the Golden Mile Secondary Plan (GMSP) study area, which is itself 113 km in area. The Golden Mile functions as a western gateway to the former City of Scarborough and is expected to see major growth as a mixed-use, transit-oriented community. This Plan contains policies that promote residential intensification combined with non-residential uses within lands designated Mixed Use Areas. The Plan also encourages density that will promote a transit-supportive environment, increase transit ridership and optimize the significant public investment in the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
The Mobility Hub Study recommends low-rise buildings on the site, but tall buildings can be supported by a few factors:
The Street-Related Retail map in the Eglinton Connects Study shows that retail is not required at the site. The Mobility Hub Master Plan promotes a vibrant streetscape in the area, and there are commercial uses along the Avenue east and west of the site. However, the site fronts onto a service road and not onto Eglinton Avenue East (which is located on a bridge at this location). As a result, there will likely be too little pedestrian movement to support street-oriented retail.
Even though there is limited potential for retail on the site, small-scale retail that serves local needs may still be vital.
The design for the site introduces two major types of public components: new open spaces and a relocated community centre.
Parks and Open Spaces
While the street the development fronts is not well-suited for retail, small retail spaces were provided to animate the park and provide the local needs of the community.