Advocacy group’s concerns grow over Pape and Danforth tower plans

Petition calls for 49-story tower development to be reviewed

The proposed 49-story tower site, marked with a notice from the City of Toronto.
The proposed 49-story tower site at Pape and Lipton avenues, marked with a notice from the City of Toronto. (James Bullanoff/Toronto Observer)  

A recent petition created by an advocacy group is calling for a proposed 49-story condo tower at Pape and Danforth avenues to be reconsidered. 

Danforth Residents for Appropriate Development (DanforthRAD) came together over concerns about the tower and what it means for the area’s future. The group posted a petition calling for the tower to be reconsidered with something more fitting to the community.

“Just the scale of it is my most immediate concern,” said Scott deVeber, secretary and treasurer for DanforthRAD. “It’s just this massive tower completely out of place in the neighbourhood. And you know, the actual design of the tower itself is going to create wind challenges for pedestrians, especially in winter.”

The tower, proposed by Toronto developer Del Boca Vista, will be located beside future Pape station developments on the Ontario Line projected for 2041. The building will extend from 654-658 Danforth Avenue

‘Conversations on the street’ led to action

The advocacy group started in October 2023 after announcements of the building sparked debates among residents in the area. Casual discussion became an informal meeting to hear from the community about their concerns. 

“It really was just conversations on the street,” said Paul Hamel, director of communications for DanforthRAD. “And so from there, a number of us thought that we might see if there was an appetite in the neighbourhood to … think about this project more broadly.”

DanforthRAD put up flyers around the area to inform residents about the development and their website, which has a petition posted to gather community support to reconsider the building.

The petition currently has more than 1,000 signatures, according to Hamel.

The website lists several concerns the group has with the building, including the height, unit sizes, and the creation of sections of the Danforth with fewer local retailers.

An intimate community

The Danforth is known as an intimate community with deep cultural heritage, with many low-rise buildings and local businesses across its main Danforth avenue stretch.

The city of Toronto completed a Danforth Planning Study in March 2022 to analyze local developments in the area.

Many residents who participated in the study favoured mid-rise development in the area, and some favoured higher building heights. City guidelines in the study set the height of buildings along the Danforth to seven to eight storeys.

Fasken, the law firm representing Del Boca Vista Properties Inc. sent a letter in Februrary 2022 addressed to the Toronto and East York Community Council requesting the proposed Pape and Danforth sites be “appropriately identified now for greater intensification.”

In a follow-up letter discussing more developments, they added their “client’s objection regarding the passing of the Danforth Planning Study.”

Fasken and Del Boca Vista did not respond to the Observer’s request for comment by time of publish.

Danforth Residents For Appropriate Development's petition poster on a utility pole.

DanforthRAD isn’t against developments in the area. What members seek is appropriate accommodations for the community.

deVeber said projects that suit the current neighbourhood’s stature are happening and can be found further east of the proposed site.

“If one goes to the corner of Greenwood and Danforth, they’ll see that there are some appropriate new developments … they are under 10 storeys,” he said.

City team ‘hearing from the community in large numbers’

Steven Barber, Senior Planner for Toronto and East York, told the Observer the city is considering all options.

“We’ve heard these concerns, we share a number of the concerns,” he said. “We’re continuing to explore different ideas and alternatives around what could be developed and what is the preferred development scenario on the site.”

Many of the issues and concerns surrounding the building have been submitted to Toronto city council through phone calls, emails, and letters from the community. The main topic concerns the height, and Barber says they “have been hearing from the community in large numbers and are very receptive to that feedback.”

On Oct. 11, Coun. Paula Fletcher (Toronto-Danforth) presented DanforthRAD’s petition – with 866 signatures at the time – to Toronto city council. Fletcher mentioned the proposed tower is “far and above any of the guidelines [in the Danforth area] that have been set before.” 

Toronto city council previously failed to decide on the proposal within 90 days because of the complexity of the development plan, Fletcher told Beach Metro News.

The proposal went on to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) which conducted a virtual Case Management Conference on Oct. 5. During that meeting, the OLT decided on a 10-day hearing date of Sept. 16, 2024. 

DanforthRAD plans to continue following the 49-storey tower proposal and other developments in the neighbourhood and encourage appropriate expansion in the area.

“I personally, do want development and housing at that corner. I think it’s an appropriate thing with the transit that’s going in. It’s just the scale of this is just inappropriate,” deVeber said. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story identified the secretary and treasurer for DanforthRAD as Scott deVerber instead of deVeber.

About this article

Posted: Jan 25 2024 12:30 pm
Filed under: Community work Homes and Real Estate News

About the Author

James Bullanoff
James Bullanoff is a third-year journalism specialist at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC). He is the UTSC Bureau Chief at the Varsity, U of T's tri-campus newspaper.