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The Foundry District: Links and references

The Foundry District was the name of a proposed redevelopment of an 18-acre tract of land in South Riverdale, Toronto (629, 633, and 675 Eastern Ave.). The site currently houses the Toronto Film Studios, which owns the land through its parent company, the Rose Corp.

The Foundry District was been discussed at a number of “public consultations” in 2005–2007. I’ve been keeping notes at all of them, and publishing detailed notes for recent “consultations.”

In 2006, Rose Corp. sold half its stake in the land to SmartCentres, and the latter became the proponent of a new zoning proposal that would turn the land into 700,000 square feet of shopping malls, big-box retail stores, and “power centres.” The Foundry District plans are gone in all details and in name, but for convenience this page will keep using that name.

In March 2009, the Ontario Municipal Board turned down the development application.

What’s new

  1. Decision of the Ontario Municipal Board in the Smart Centres redevelopment application (it was rejected). (Added 2009.03.06)
  2. Notes from a public meeting about the big-box plans, held at Riverdale Collegiate Institute.
  3. On 2007.05.17, Paula Fletcher hosted a public meeting about the latest incarnation of the Foundry District plans, which are now all big-box all the time. I attended and took notes. (Photos of architectural drawings)
  4. Well, that was interesting. Ken Ferguson sold half the Foundry District land to a developer connected to Wal-Mart.
  5. The Foundry District redevelopment went to the Ontario Municipal Board in a hearing on 2006.08.15, postponed to September, then to 2007.02.20 (PDF order)
  6. I’ve added a City of Toronto staff report, dated 2006.02.01, in three formats:

    Rose Corp. filed an appeal (case Nº PL051314) with the Ontario Municipal Board, complaining that the City was taking too long to come up with a decision. City staff have recommended rejecting the proposal for what is effectively the Foundry District because it does not preserve employment areas or the existing industrial zoning. Their recommendation is due to be considered at the Toronto and East York Community Council meeting tomorrow, 2006.02.06, at 17:00 hours (allegedly – things usually run very much longer).

    Staff also recommended that settlement talks begin with the applicant. If this was a way for the Rose Corp. to force such settlement talks, so far it’s working.

    But the most important feature of this staff report is the agreement between the developer and the City not to include residential uses in the new development. According to this agreement, there won’t be anyone living in the Foundry District. While this will satisfy the peevish middle class of Leslieville, who think they live around enough poor people as it is and even a hint of increased social housing is anathema, does it satisfy anyone else? At all? (Added 2006.02.06)

  7. Megastudio ‘controversy’? Critics of the deal are making it up” by John Barber, Globe and Mail, 2005.07.30 (use Google News to get past the registration requirement): “TFS has announced plans to redevelop its existing studios on Eastern Avenue as soon as the new one is built.” (Added 2005.08.02)
  8. Mega-studio deal sparks controversy” by Murray Whyte, Toronto Star, 2005.07.27, discusses the related deal with TEDCO for a new studio by the waterfront. The Foundry District is covered thus: “Ferguson downplayed the rezoning of land on Eastern Ave., saying in an open letter to the film industry that the studios would remain ‘as long as it’s in demand.’ ” (Added 2005.07.27)

Other documents

I have a few City of Toronto documents that I may convert from Microsoft Word format, or other unpublished formats, to standard HTML. Links will be found here.

  1. City of Toronto status report dated June 21, 2005 (the subject of the July 5, 2005 council meeting; see notes and resolutions). (Added 2005.07.17)

I’m only gonna say this once: You aren’t engaged in a “public” consultation if you’re handing people documents in unpublished formats. It may surprise the City of Toronto and the Toronto Film Studios and its colleagues to learn that not everybody owns the Microsoft Office suite, nor should they have to. Learn to publish in HTML, plain text, or tagged PDF. If teenagers can do it, you can. (And, best of all, somebody else doesn’t own your documents then. What happens when Microsoft upgrades its file formats, or simply goes out of business?)

My position

For the original plans

I’m a resident of South Riverdale and an independent observer. I am cautiously optimistic about the plans for the Foundry District, but I have a lot of questions and objections for the developers and for other community members. They are all adequately explored in my Weblog entries.

For the new plans

The plans revealed at the public meeting on 2007.05.17 turn 18 acres of land into a three-level parking lot with 1,900 spaces that serves 700,000 square feet of big-box retail space. Let me put it to you this way: I don’t want two thousand extra cars in my neighbourhood the weekend before Christmas. The previous Foundry District could have become a whole new neighbourhood; this version is an outdoor shopping mall. It’s a simulacrum of a neighbourhood.

UPDATED: 2009.03.06