Kingston Road facelift to start next year but no source of funding yet

Redevelopment on parts of Kingston Road should start next year despite questions about where the money will come from, first-year Ward 36 councillor Gary Crawford says.

The project aims to beautify the area by putting planters alongside the light stands and cleaning it up to make it attractive to the community, Crawford said.

In 2009, the City of Toronto approved the Kingston Road “Avenue” study that included a plan to revive Kingston Road between Danforth Avenue and east of Midland Avenue.

The Birch Cliff and Cliffside communities were recognized by the city as avenues: areas that can be developed to keep pace with development in Toronto. The study was meant to formulate a vision and implementation program for future development in the area.

Crawford said he is unsure of the cost of the entire project but estimates it could take 10 to 20 years to complete due to lack of funding.

“We’re working on one small section … Birch Cliff, which is only a couple kilometres,” Crawford said. “Even though we’re doing the planning, the funding isn’t in place yet.

“There’s place for small bits of it like the Birch Cliff study but we don’t really have the long-term funding for this,” he continued. “This is something that could cost tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars over a long period of time.”

The plan proposes to add commercial-residential zones, outdoor and indoor spaces for private and public recreational activities, bicycle parking spaces, landscaping, outdoor patios and townhouses.

Residents and business owners have mixed reactions to the plan.

Local resident Douglas Chadwick said the city should focus on getting rid of car dealerships.

“I’d like to see housing and parks in the area,” he said.

According to Crawford, one of the key issues of the plan is getting the participation of business owners in creating combined residential and commercial areas.

“If a business owner doesn’t want to do that, then it is very difficult to entice them to want to sort of tear down their plaza and redo it, which is why it takes a long time,” he said.

Expropriation is an option but not a realistic one, Crawford said.

“We’re looking at other incentives to encourage businesses to do that,” he said.

The incentives include increased land value that Crawford said may encourage landowners to sell.

New business owner Ian Town said he isn’t in favour of a Business Improvement Area.

“I just spent a bunch of money opening this office, so now what?” he asked. “I’m not going to support the office I’m in and try to build the business I have? I have to think bigger and join another conglomerate to do that?”

Town, a chiropractor, hopes the redevelopment will include more restaurants along the road.

“There’s virtually an empty plaza across the street, but who is the money going to come from?” he wondered.

Ian Town, a chiropractor and new business owner, isn’t in favour of a Business Improvement Area for supporting the Kingston Road “Avenue” study. Town hopes the redevelopment will include opening more restaurants along the road.

[audio: http://www.torontoobserver.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Dr-Ian-Town.mp3]

The University of Toronto Scarborough is one of the venues for the 2015 Pan Am Games, though Crawford says the revitalization plan is not directly linked to the games.

“We’re starting to look at Scarborough as a whole and really starting to do a lot of investment in Scarborough,” he said. “I’m hoping that over the next three to four years there will be more of an incentive and we may have the opportunity to start doing more.”

Observer Radio News: The City of Toronto has approved plans to develop Kingston Road in Scarborough.

But some local businesses have concerns about it.

Our reporter Aakanksha Tangri tells us more.

[audio:http://ondemand.centennialcollege.ca/CCradio/news/ATangri_kingstonroad_march4.mp3]