Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Letter to the Villager - May 27, 2010


Preserve heritage, character of Baby Point

Re: Homeowner allowed to demolish Baby Point home, news April 29, 2010

Regrettably, this situation is another example of how modern planning fails to take into consideration the character of an existing neighbourhood. Instead, it permits property re-developers to build out to the limits of the zoning regulations, using their as-of-right to construct modern super-sized buildings that do not fit In with the built heritage fabric of the surrounding neighbourhood.

This is a particular shame when it occurs within an enclave like Baby Point, so closely resembling the original Robert Home Smith tract of architecturally coherent residences, interspersed with later infill development that has for the most part been sensitively designed.

An appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board would achieve little more than a delay for the Project, at monetary expense to the plaintiffs. The proposed building conforms to the existing City of Toronto Official Plan, zoning and site plan regulations, leaving little to no legal grounds upon which to overturn the council decision.

In addition, Ontario's recent Places to Grow-legislation makes the intensification of development in existing neighbourhoods more likely.

Since the current planning framework for they city is unlikely to substantially change any time soon, other approaches may be examined.

Given the distinctive nature of Baby Point ans strong community interest in preserving the distinctive built heritage and cultural heritage landscape, designation as a heritage conservation District under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act would be an effective mechanism.

This would permit the identification and definition of specific heritage features that make Baby Point what it is, and in doing so, guide future alterations, demolitions and new construction to conform more closely with the existing built form, architectural styles, and materials.

Heritage Conservation Districts are in use across Ontario to successfully maintain the character of distinctive neighbourhoods like Baby Point, while permitting alterations and development that are sympathetic to the original built heritage.

Given the inevitable development pressures within the city, it may be prudent for this community's members to consider this alternative while there is still a neighbourhood to protect.

Joseph Muller

Monday, May 17, 2010

Letter to The Villager - May 14, 2010


Good neighbours are good stewards

To the editor:

Unfortunately, it seems that the butchery of an historically interesting cottage at 66 Baby Point Road is a done deal, along with the degradation of the streetscape that will entail.

As Councillor Bill Saundercook is quoted as saying, the owners are very likely well within their rights." This, of course, is where the problem lies. Owners of such structures need to be made to understand before they buy that, as well as some rights of owner-ship, they are assuming responsibilities of stewardship.

People usually understand this with relation to other types of heritage: would anyone be stupid enough to hand a newly-acquired Rembrandt to another painter (even if the second painter was Monet or Picasso) to paint over it? Would the owner of a Frank Lloyd Wright house ignorantly demolish it to build a modern house, even by the best modern architect?

Robert Home Smith's architectural and streetscaping work in this city, although not world-famous, is remarkable in its style, sense of flow, creation of interlocking vistas, and, apparently, domestic comfort. It is one of the pieces of our urban fabric, which contributes to Toronto's character, in the same manner as the humble bungalow districts in Illinois and California, cottages and townhouses in Britain, and streetscapes or heritage districts in many other parts of the world.

Apparently Toronto doesn't have effective bylaws to protect its buildings from the "rights" of those who don't care about their neighbours, or the character and history of the city as a whole, and who are too self-centered to accept the obligations of steward-ship. We need to start building a framework of more effective by-laws now so that those who come after us don't wonder why they are living in such a boring city.

Megan E. Finlayson

Monday, May 3, 2010

Proposed Footprint of 66 Baby Point Road

Judge for yourself what a 6500 sq ft House will be like related to the two neighbouring houses and a 1.20 metre set in at the sides.

Hi, I'd like to share a Google Maps link with you.