Friday, August 20, 2010

I thought this was done! Westwood Theater

Council to vote on new courthouse, 'catalyst' of Six Points redevelopment

Courthouse goes to vote. The vacant Westwood Theatre is the future site of a provincial courthouse. Staff photo/NICK PERRY

Toronto council votes on plans for a new provincial courthouse in the Six Points area later this month.

Etobicoke York Community Council approved a zoning bylaw amendment Tuesday, Aug. 17 to permit construction of a provincial courthouse serving west Toronto, part of a broader revitalization plan for the vacant, city-owned Westwood Theatre Lands at Bloor Street West and Kipling Avenue.

"This is a catalyst for the entire redevelopment of the Westwood and Six Points area. This is what we've always needed," Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Peter Milczyn, who represents the area, said in an interview Wednesday.

Ontario Realty Corporation spokesperson Caroline Knight said Thursday she could not speak to details of the agreement.

But Milczyn said the province's offer may well be above fair market value since it includes upfront infrastructure costs and site servicing, to include the first phase of the Six Points reconfiguration of a new Dundas Street, utility, parking, water, waste water and stormwater.

"One of the key principles I had was that this first phase of redevelopment occur at no cost to the City of Toronto taxpayer," Milczyn said. "The other part of my vision is that we balance all the residential development in the area with commercial development so it's not just a bunch of condo towers."

The city wants to raze the Six Points ramps and bridges to open up the land for development using a traditional grid-style road system that will connect Dundas to Kipling at-grade.

Toronto Parking Authority would gain a large underground parking garage in the deal.

A new east entrance to Kipling subway station is under construction.

A courthouse square is also in the plans, as well as a planted median along Bloor Street and public art.

The project represents major economic investment in the area, Milczyn said.

"A courthouse would employ 300 to 400 people. That creates economic activity from which local businesses would benefit, such as restaurants and an increased demand for office space in the area by lawyers."

Next steps include restarted city negotiations with the YMCA of Greater Toronto to purchase a 0.6- to 0.8-hectare parcel on the property likely between the proposed courthouse and Kipling Avenue to build a community recreation facility to serve south Etobicoke.

"We know there's a need in south Etobicoke and we thought it would be a great fit for a YMCA facility," Dave Layton, YMCA of Greater Toronto's vice-president of asset development and real estate said in an interview Thursday.

Its size and features aren't finalized yet, Layton said.

"But YMCAs are well-known for having pools and services for children, youth and families that focus on healthy development. We welcome people of all ages," Layton said.

Twenty years ago, then city of Etobicoke envisioned a new city hall on the Westwood Theatre Lands. The area along Bloor and Dundas streets through to Shorncliffe Road was envisioned to be a business district, but it never happened.

The Westwood Theatre will be demolished in the spring, Milczyn said.

Construction of the courthouse could begin in 2012, he said.

Two provincial courthouses at 1000 Finch Ave. W. and 2201 Finch Ave. W. currently serve west Toronto. The new courthouse would eventually make 1000 Finch Ave. W. redundant, Attorney General Chris Bentley said last year.

David Pylyp I thought that this was a sealed deal! What is there to vote about? Jobs, employment, Long term economic center at Kipling and Bloor/Dundas. Improved access for all of the Tridel Essex, Nuvo and Park Nuvo. Michael Power will share in that subway access. The TTC is spending MILLIONS on a subway expansion and an expanded bus terminal at Kipling Station.

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