Committee of Adjustment Submission by Robert Galway 24/04/2009

66 Baby Point Road Proposed Development"
Submission by Anne and Robert Galway

62 Baby Point Road - April 24, 2009
To: Committee of Adjustment

Etobicoke York Panel
2 Civic Centre Court
Toronto, ON, M9C 5A3

Carla Schreiber, Assistant to the Committee of Adjustment

Good Afternoon;

At the outset, I would like to introduce myself.

I am Dr. Robert Galway. My wife, Anne, and I live at 62 Baby Point Road. We are the second owners of that property built in 1922, and have lived there continuously for 36 years, commencing in 1973. As such we have an in depth knowledge of the history and culture of the neighbourhood.

The Baby Point Enclave is one of the oldest if not the oldest residential neighbourhood in Toronto.

The entry to the enclave is through a set of historic stone gates that can lay claim to demarcating the first gated community in the Borough of York and the City of Toronto.

The land was originally a Six Nations Village “ Taiaiacon” inhabited by members of the Seneca tribe. A memorial to the Village stands at the fork in the street leading to Baby Point Road on the North and Baby Point Crescent on the south.

66 Baby Point Road is the backdrop to this Memorial Cairn.

The Village guarded the fordable rapids at the site of the Old Mill known as "The Toronto Carrying Place", or, le portage de Toronto. Etienne Brule passed through these lands (1615)on his epic exploratory journey that led to Louisiana and beyond.

This tract was settled in 1816 by a son of the French Canadian fur trading family of “Francois Bâby”. You may be interested to know that the Bâby Family Farm near Windsor Ontario was captured by American Forces in the War of 1812 and served as the American Military Headquarters during that continental struggle. (Peter Newman)
In addition to establishing a Fur Trading Post in York, the family also dispatched brothers to establish similar outposts in Detroit and in Northern Michigan at Michelimackinac near Sault Ste. Marie.

As a consequence of the uprisings in Upper and Lower Canada in the early years of the 19th. Century, the British Crown dispatched Lord Durham to Canada to investigate the causes and recommend solutions in what was probably the nations first Royal Commission. (1837)

Lord Durham was hosted by James Bâby (who had anglicized his persona and name by that time) during his stay in Canada. It was the Lord Durham Report of 1837 that led to the establishment of the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and an elected Legislature in each province.

The Crown obtained Title to this tract of land in the early part of the 1900`s after which they sold the property to Robert Home Smith, a lawyer and graduate of U of T, as well as a Commissioner of the Toronto Harbour Commission. Home Smith developed this property with great foresight that was equally applied to other regions in the Humber River Valley including the Kingsway, St. Georges Golf Club and The Old Mill.

He brought a sense of Urban Planning to these developments that was far ahead of his time and his concepts of residential development and design still withstand intense scrutiny by urban planners as well as well intentioned developers and residential architects. His principles of property layout are deserving of respect and should not gave way to architectural largesse as is the case associated with this application.

This preamble serves to establish the historical background of this very special residential area.

I would like to take the remaining time to outline and display certain features of the immediate neighbourhood to 66 Baby Point Road that illustrate the pleasing aesthetics that grace the street.

There are seven properties aligned along the curve of Baby Point Road that merit review. These include the target property number 66, and the 3 properties adjacent to this property lying to the east and west respectively.

The properties are established on their individual lots with a setback ratio that gives rise to a harmonious sight line as one moves along the road regardless of the direction of approach, be it from the east or the west.

This aesthetic sight line did not happen by chance. It was achieved by creating an èn echelon position of each home on its lot.

This montage includes the two properties immediately to the east and to the west of the target property (62 Baby Point Rd to 70 Baby Point Rd.) 66 Baby Point Rd is in the middle three (3) frames. This collage not only illustrates the en echelon placement of the properties on their lots but the proportionality that integrates the streetscape into a unified entity.

Although each home displays different architectural features, there is a pleasing harmony of size and shape that serves to integrate them into the communal surroundings such that no one home dominates the other. The spaciousness of the properties was enhanced by placing the garages behind the homes leaving significant space (residential elbow room) between each house. (a visual aperture)

It should not be overlooked that the homes on display above are built on ravine lots situated along the ancient south bank of the Humber River. A site map demonstrates that over one-third or more of each lot consists of a steeply inclined slope of over 60 metres in height subject to erosion and other hazards that can permanently damage the ecology, topography and local geography.

There are significant species of wildlife inhabiting the ravine on a year around basis.

The flora and fauna of this natural habitat is deserving of protection.

The area is also noteworthy from the archaeological perspective.

Taking the foregoing into consideration, it is this homeowners opinion that the demolition of 66 Baby Point Road to make way for a home of over 6500 sq. ft. is not acceptable. The footprint of the ground floor alone is almost 90 percent greater than the present one. The increase of the square footage of the floor space is essentially double that of the existing building (all for a family of four).

The application for a variance clearly is not a minor one. The demolition of 66 Baby Point Road and the construction of a "Monster Home " with its encroachment on the street sight lines and adjacent residential space is a major transgression on this historic neighbourhood. In my considered view it represents a form of Architectural `Octomummy` Syndrome. It calls for rejection.

In Summary:

We strongly oppose the proposed development and ask that the Committee refuse the requested variance.

The Baby Point Enclave is an historic residential community in the City of Toronto that has a rich cultural and architectural heritage deserving of respect and preservation.

Potential concerns:

 The proposal is excessively large and out of keeping with the existing physical character of the area.

 Moving this oversized house forward on the lot would dominate the streetscape and overwhelm the more modest homes, which comprise the prevailing building type of this neighbourhood.

 The site is constrained by the ravine to the rear and a number of prominent and significant trees.

 The better approach to building on this lot would be to design a more modest house that preserves the existing trees and respects the pattern of front lot setbacks.

 It would irrevocably alter and intrude upon the existing “en echelon” pattern of the present setbacks and the associated aesthetics of the street sight lines.

 The justification for the variance is to enable rear yard landscaping. However, the rear yard could be landscaped without the requested variance if the applicant chose to build a more modest house, in keeping with the other homes in the neighbourhood.

The applicant has done a poor job of consulting with area residents. The design was done first and presented to area residents as an afterthought. Clearly, there is no effort to design a house that fits with the neighbourhood.

The only consultation was done by meeting the requirements to post a Notice of Application for a Variance from the Bylaws related to setback 60 meters on other side of the Target Property.

To Conclude:

We strongly oppose the proposed development and ask that the Committee refuse the requested variance.


Robert Galway,  Anne Galway
62 Baby Point Road
References & Links

Humber Valley Surveys - The Toronto Land Corporation; Home Smith & Company overview.html Neighbourhood, Toronto custpage 15403.html ABC/Baby Point.html custpage 15401.html Baby


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