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Councillors approve condo tower despite complaints

CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF

Over vocal complaints from local residents about "intensification gone awry," a proposed 28-storey condominium on a leafy downtown street of Victorian-era townhouses and nearby high-rises cleared a key hurdle at city hall yesterday.

After Toronto and East York community council gave lopsided approval for the high-rise, community activists vowed to take their fight to city council later this month, and possibly to the Ontario Municipal Board.

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"We are not opposed to intensification, many of us live in towers, we live downtown," Shawn Tracy, president of the Bay Corridor Community Association, told reporters after the vote. "But you also need to have walkable, liveable communities. At present we have that because we have nice little side streets that have human-scale development."

The condominium project, at the corner of St. Nicholas and St. Mary Streets and a block from busy retail on Yonge Street, would replace a three-storey building that houses the Jesuit Graduate Faculty of Theology (Regis College).

That two block stretch of St. Nicholas is a tree-lined brick street of original and reproduction Victorian townhouses, with a 24-storey high rise immediately to the west, another 20-storey condo kitty-corner from the proposed project and lower-rise commercial buildings closer to Yonge Street.

The original proposal, a 44-storey glass tower 137 metres high, received no support from city planners, the local councillor or residents. But the project, now scaled down to 95 metres, fits with Toronto's official plan for increased density in mixed use areas, according to a report by city planners.

At yesterday's meeting, where about three dozen residents lined up in opposition, councillor Kyle Rae (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) praised city planners for doing "an excellent job of trying to capture what was significant to the residents all save but the height issue."

That was not the assessment of local residents, who fear the loss of a cozy neighbourhood of small side streets inside the high-rise corridors of Bay and Yonge.

"It's intensification gone awry," said Paul Farrelly, who lives in a nearby high-rise and expressed dismay that city officials said little about a new tower dominating 28 heritage buildings in the vicinity.

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