City of Toronto and Toronto Community Housing kick off planning for revitalized Lawrence Heights



    TORONTO, June 4 /CNW/ - Toronto Community Housing and the City of Toronto
today officially launched the process to revitalize Lawrence Heights and the
Lawrence-Allen community.
    Toronto Community Housing announced the members of a consulting team and
the start of an extensive community engagement process. Toronto Community
Housing and its consultants will work closely with the community and the City
of Toronto to create a plan to address current issues at Lawrence Heights that
include the poor state of repair of housing, safety concerns, isolation from
the surrounding community, and few social and economic opportunities.
    "The Revitalization Plan - when it is completed - will empower the
community and build on the community knowledge, community identity and
community pride. I want area residents to think big about the neighbourhood's
long-term future and imagine opportunities to positively transform the area
and deliver positive change," said Toronto City Councillor Howard Moscoe.
    "We want a Lawrence Heights revitalization plan that rebuilds this
community from the ground up. We want better housing. We want a better mix of
housing - rental and ownership. We want the community to fit the fabric of the
surrounding neighbourhood. And we want tenants to have better access to
economic development opportunities, social services and recreational
facilities," said Toronto Community Housing chair, David Mitchell.
    At the same time, the City of Toronto will develop a Revitalization Plan
that will guide future decision-making in a manner that meets the hopes and
aspirations of all community stakeholders, builds on existing strengths and
opportunities, and achieves broader City building objectives. The goal of the
Revitalization Plan will be to create a livable and sustainable community with
a mix of housing, retail, community services and facilities, parks and
employment opportunities. This comprehensive plan will also find practical
solutions for creating connections across Allen Road, which will then join the
two sides of this community.
    Both the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto District Catholic
School Board are partners in the revitalization. The TDSB has five school
sites within the Lawrence-Allen area and will be looking at how best to plan
for their future.
    "We have a tremendous opportunity here for city-building," said Gary
Wright, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto. "With the help of our partners
- Toronto Community Housing and the Toronto and Toronto Catholic School
Boards, we are going to re-imagine 165 acres of publicly-owned land in the
Lawrence Heights area to build a livable mixed-income, mixed-use
neighbourhood."
    "Toronto Community Housing will work with the consulting team, the City
of Toronto, school boards, tenants and their neighbours to create a healthier
and more vibrant Lawrence Heights," Toronto Community Housing CEO Derek
Ballantyne said.
    A community meeting with Lawrence Heights tenants will be held tonight.
It will be the first in a series of outreach activities that will include
neighbouring residents, agencies and other stakeholders. Toronto Community
Housing, the City of Toronto and the school boards will coordinate community
engagement activities and planning work to ensure an integrated and
comprehensive approach.
    Toronto Community Housing expects to have a development plan and business
strategy complete in early 2009. City Planning will be targeting the fourth
quarter of 2009 for a Secondary Plan for the Lawrence-Allen area.
    Toronto Community Housing is Canada's largest social housing provider and
home to more than 164,000 tenants with low and moderate income - about six per
cent of the City of Toronto's population. These families, seniors, refugees,
recent immigrants and people with special needs reside in 58,500 households in
communities throughout Toronto.

    Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home
to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine
of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America.
In the past three years, Toronto has won more than 70 awards for quality,
innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government
is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.


    Backgrounder
    Lawrence Heights and area revitalization

    
    -   Toronto Community Housing owns and operates 1,208 units of rental
        housing in Lawrence Heights.

    -   Lawrence Heights was built in the mid- to late-1950s by the Canada
        Mortgage and Housing Corporation

    -   Lawrence Heights is located north of Lawrence Avenue West and south
        of Ranee Avenue on both the east and west side of the Allen Road

    -   Lawrence Heights is home to more than 3,500 people

    -   Lawrence Heights was selected for revitalization because of:

        -  Unacceptable housing conditions: mouldy roofs, leaky plumbing, a
           complete lack of accessibility for seniors and parents, and
           expensive building systems like boilers that are nearing the end
           of their useful lives.
        -  1950s community planning that - though well intentioned -
           contributes to social and safety issues
        -  Isolation from the surrounding community
        -  Potential for better use of land that has gone completely untapped
        -  Missed opportunities for partnerships with the school boards and
           the City to create better schools, recreation facilities, economic
           development and social services

    -   Key elements of the Lawrence Heights revitalization plan will
        include:

        -  A phased approach that minimizes impacts of construction and
           relocation
        -  A green approach that preserves Lawrence Heights' strong landscape
           heritage and its mature trees
        -  Improving housing and community health through better and more
           efficient use of land - not loss or dispersal of rent-geared-to-
           income housing
        -  Replacing any units of existing social housing that we close - as
           required by law
        -  Tenants having the full right to return to the community
        -  Toronto Community Housing co-ordinating moves and covering moving
           costs

    -   The team working with Toronto Community Housing is made up of experts
        and leaders in the fields of architecture, planning, urban design,
        landscape architecture, development and business planning,
        engineering and community engagement. The project manager and lead
        urban designer is Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co. Other firms that
        make up the team include GHK International Inc., N. Barry Lyon
        Consulting, Dillon, The Planning Partnership and Public Interest.

    -   The Lawrence-Allen Study Area includes approximately 850 acres land
        located on either side of the Allen Road.

    -   Up to 165 acres land - mostly in public ownership - could undergo
        physical change or redevelopment as a result of revitalization
        process. The table below summarizes the land.

        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Lands                               Owner          Area (approximate)
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Lawrence Heights housing            TCHC                  60.6 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        North Acres housing                 TCHC                  4.4 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Neptune Drive housing               TCHC                  3.8 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Bathurst Heights Learning Centre    TDSB                  12.1 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Flemington Public School            TDSB                  6.1 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Lawrence Heights Middle School      TDSB                  5.0 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Baycrest Public School              TDSB                  5.4 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Sir Sandford Fleming Academy        TDSB                  7.8 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Streets and Lanes                   City of Toronto       23.0 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Lawrence Heights Community Centre   City of Toronto       1.3 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Baycrest Park                       City of Toronto       23 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Varna Park                          City of Toronto       0.8 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Yorkdale Park                       City of Toronto       2.1 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Flemington Park                     City of Toronto       8.6 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        S/E corner, Lawrence Ave and
         Allen Road                         City of Toronto       1.0 acre
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        TOTAL                                                     165.0 acres
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    -   About 17,000 residents live in the Lawrence-Allen Revitalization
        Study Area.

    -   The Allen Road divides the Lawrence-Allen Revitalization Study Area
        and the Lawrence Heights community. The Allen Road was the first
        segment of the Spadina Expressway, which was never completed. It
        functions as a high-speed link from Highway 401 to Eglinton Avenue
        West. There are only two places to cross the Allen Road between
        Highway 401 and Lawrence Avenue West.

    -   There are two subway stations in the Lawrence-Allen area - Lawrence
        West and Yorkdale.

    -   The consulting team working with the City of Toronto includes experts
        and leaders in the fields of architecture, urban design, planning,
        sustainability, transportation, engineering, energy, community
        engagement, landscape architecture, recreational and community
        facilities, and business planning. The project manager and lead urban
        designer and planner is planningAlliance, led by John Van Nostrand.
        Other firms that make up the team include: Lura consulting, Arup, MMM
        consulting, Halsall, Corban + Goode landscape architecture; dmA
        planning and management services, ward associates,
        Dougan + associates.
    

    For more information:
    Toronto Community Housing - www.torontohousing.ca
    City of Toronto - www.toronto.ca/planning/north_york.htm





For further information:

For further information: Jeffrey Ferrier, Media Relations, Toronto
Community Housing, (416) 981-4252 or at Jeffrey.Ferrier@torontohousing.ca;
Gary Wright, Chief Planner, City of Toronto, (416) 392-8772 or at
gwright1@toronto.ca


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