History of the Site
Canada Square is an existing mixed-use complex at the southwest corner of Yonge and Eglinton. The complex was constructed in phases between 1961 and 1987 and contains office, retail and entertainment uses. The Canada Square Complex is located on lands owned by the TTC, as agent for the City. The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) records the completion of the first building on the Canada Square site as 1963.
Oxford Properties Group currently holds a lease for the buildings on the complex. In 2017, a few years after acquiring its interest in the Canada Square site, Oxford began to consider redevelopment opportunities for the site.
The majority of the lands are encumbered with three long-term ground leases. The existing ground leases have terms to 2051 for one of the leases and to 2070 for the other two ground leases when options for renewal, in favour of the Tenant, are included. Oxford Properties and CT REIT (the “Tenant”) control the lands encumbered by the existing ground leases. An approximately two-acre parcel of land fronting at Duplex and Eglinton owned by the TTC (the “Bus Barn Lands”) is not encumbered by the existing ground leases. It is currently licensed by Metrolinx as a staging area for the Eglinton Crosstown project.
Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan – 2009
After several years of consultation and collaboration with the local community, TTC, landowners, and other stakeholders, substantial amendments to the Official Plan and Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan, and By-law No. 438-86 were recommended in a Staff Report from the Chief Planner in order to implement the results of the Yonge-Eglinton Centre Focused Review. The report also recommended adoption of Urban Design Guidelines and outlined implementation strategies to achieve the revitalization of Yonge-Eglinton Centre, with a particular emphasis on a Mixed Use Area focused on the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton.
Yonge-Eglinton is one of the City’s major growth centres, with excellent transit and concentrated housing and services in a dynamic mixed use setting. The report sets out local goals and a development framework, and recommends policies to promote a vibrant transit-based mixed use Centre which is compatible with surrounding established residential neighbourhoods.
Urban Design Guidelines – January 2009
The Urban Design goals for the Yonge Eglinton Centre are to create a beautiful, comfortable and amenable area of the city. These guidelines are a framework, which can be used to shape the form and layout of new development in the area. The goals are as follows:
• To ensure new development “fits” within the existing neighbourhood context.
• To further define the character of the Yonge Eglinton Centre as a whole, including its streets and buildings.
• To provide open space and pedestrian linkages to encourage movement in and around Yonge Eglinton Centre.
• To establish the relationship of built form to adjacent streets and open spaces.
• To provide direction for the public realm and clarify streetscape elements, views and vistas and public art.
Ground Lease Arrangement – 2018
On April 24, 2018 City Council authorized the City and the Toronto Transit Commission Board to approve the key terms of the new consolidated ground lease for the Canada Square Lands, which terms were to be the basis for negotiation with the Tenant and enter into a ground lease and other agreements for the Canada Square lands. A comprehensive description of the decision history is provided in the Supplementary Report issued by CreateTO on July 13, 2021.
Oxford announces New Development – December, 2020
In December 2020, Oxford Properties (as representative of the Consortium Ownership Oxford and Canadian Tire (CT REIT)) submitted a Zoning By-law Amendment application for the redevelopment of the lands. There had been no community consultation in advance of the issue of this application. City Planning staff prepared a Preliminary Report, dated February 3, 2021 from the Director, Community Planning, Toronto and East York District. The report was deferred at the February 24, 2021 Toronto and East York Community Council meeting.
There were many articles were written in industry online websites (e.g., storeys.com) and number of articles opposing the application including this item in the Globe and Mail.
FoNTRA quickly established an informal coalition of member associations to understand the proposal and initiated a number of actions to oppose the application. The proposal did not fit the realities of 2021 that were quite different from the situation in 2009. The coalition began to formulate a vision statement that would better represent the current and future needs of our growing communities.
City Council Motions – April 7, 2021
On April 7, 2021, City Council passed Members Motion 31.27, as amended. The motion requested City Planning in consultation with an established Working Group and with the support of an Inter-Divisional Team, to comprehensively evaluate the redevelopment of the Canada Square site together with the impacts from future development occurring north of Eglinton along the Yonge Street Corridor in Ward 8 and Ward 12 and provide a Special Study Area Report with Guiding Principles for the redevelopment of the site, consistent with the intent of the applicable policy.
On April 7, 2021, City Council also requested the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to provide a Special Study Area Report with Guiding Principles, consistent with the intent of the applicable policy, for the redevelopment of Canada Square and the Yonge Street corridor north of Eglinton Avenue following working group meetings supported by an Inter-Divisional staff team.
City Council Meeting – May 7, 2021
The next event was the May 5, 2021 City Council meeting where there were two related items (TE24.96 and MM32.5). In the end, the Motion was carried under MM32.5 to make the signed agreement and all related documents available to the public. So perhaps a paragraph explaining this issue/progress under a heading City Council Motions – May 5, 2021? In here, we need to tie in with the May 1, 2021 Letter from FoNTRA with their recommendation [I will be sending the Word version of the letter on to Paddy for creation of the post – she will then link to the post in the narrative].
This paragraph should have a link to Agenda Item History MM32.5
Special Study Area Working Group and Final Report – June 2021
City Planning retained a facilitator, Public Progress, to facilitate the Special Study Area Working Group. Public Progress in collaboration with the working group produced a report titled “Imagining a New Town Centre for Midtown Toronto” dated June 2021, outlining six priorities.
The Working Group was comprised of representatives from local residents associations, tenant and condominium associations, Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), community service agencies, local residents and the Councillors for Wards 8, 12 and 15. The Inter-Divisional staff team included staff from relevant City Divisions and agencies.
The visioning report was titled “Imagining a New Town Centre for Midtown Toronto” and was written by the facilitator, Bruce Davis.
The six priorities, as determined by the Working Group, are highlighted in the report as follows:
- Priority 1: The Canada Square site should be a New Town Centre for Midtown Toronto and contain a vibrant mix of uses: a public square, park and open space, residential, learning, employment, community facilities, cultural and performing arts spaces.
- Priority 2: Residential uses on the Canada Square site should be limited to 20% of the Gross Floor Area and affordable housing should be a key component of any housing and comprise at least 25% of the housing mix.
- Priority 3: Midtown needs a new school to serve students from JK to Grade 8.
- Priority 4: Canada Square should feature a large public park.
- Priority 5: Canada Square should be a centre for inspiring learning and jobs.
- Priority 6: Community and cultural spaces are vital and Canada Square can be a part of that.
A copy of the visioning report of the Working Group can be found at the following link:
The visioning report was the centrepiece document for the City Council meeting on July 24th.
City Council Meeting – July 14, 2021
The Planning and Housing Committee requested the appropriate City staff, including City Legal, and in consultation with CreateTO, report to the July 14, 2021 meeting of City Council, describing the potential outcomes if City Council does not make a decision on the Zoning By-law Amendment application for the site, within the timelines specified in the signed lease agreement between the City of Toronto and Oxford Properties or, if Oxford Properties does not waive the remaining conditions and abandons the agreement.
FoNTRA provided a letter on July 9th as follows:
<< add link to WordPress version of this letter >>
A Motion was moved by Councillor Matlow to:
- City Council support the vision for a New Town Centre, as outlined in Attachment 1 to the report (June 10, 2021) from the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, headed “Imagining a New Town Centre for Midtown Toronto: Report of the Facilitator of the Midtown Working Group”, to the extent that the vision is consistent with existing and emerging policy.
- City Council request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, in consultation with relevant City divisions, to report to the October 18, 2021 meeting of the Planning and Housing Committee with a feasibility review of all aspects of the vision in Attachment 1 to the report (June 10, 2021) from the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, including but not limited to:
- assessing the inclusion of a large public park, elementary school, affordable housing, child care, post-secondary institution, significantly increased office/commercial/retail space with priority given to community/non-profit organizations and private/public net-zero/green innovation initiatives, cultural facilities and other uses/amenities that contribute to Yonge-Eglinton becoming a complete community; and
- an implementation plan for the amenities in Part 2.a. above, including a consideration of modifying or transitioning current contractual and financial arrangements, varied lease terms for different uses, City funding mechanisms, support from senior levels of government and other sources of support.
- City Council request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to inform and consult with the Midtown Working Group during the preparation of the feasibility review.
- City Council request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to hold a community consultation meeting on the Midtown Working Group’s report prior to a community consultation meeting on the Oxford application for the site.
- City Council request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to present the feasibility review at least three months in advance of the Final Report for the Oxford application for the site.
The motion was unanimously approved by City Council.
Alex Teixeira, Senior Planner