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Save Otter Loop II: Opponents Speak; You Should Too



trolleybus-9110-01.jpg

(Otter Loop photograph by Richard Leitch)

Janice Etter, Chair of the Etobicoke-York Community Preservation Panel, offers this update on the drive to preserve the transit shelter at Otter Loop. It’s a long post with a lot of background, which we show after the link, but Janice finishes it off with this challenge to transit fans:

It痴 now up to TTC buffs to make sure that Councillor Karen Stintz and funder hear from them, urging that the shelter be incorporated into the park design as a way of commemorating a significant relic of TTC history.

To take up that challenge, I encourage you all to write a polite e-mail to Councillor Karen Stintz letting her know what you think should be done with the site, and whether this little piece of architectural history should be preserved. Now, here’s Janice:


Adam Sobolak痴 message was shared with members of the Toronto Preservation Board prior to the April 6th Board meeting. As a result, the North York Community Preservation Panel passed a motion at its meeting earlier in the week, which Chair Edith Geduld presented to the Board:

That the Otter Loop transit shelter, on Avenue Road at Otter Crescent, south of Lawrence Avenue East (across from Havergal College) be repaired/restored/preserved and protected on site and incorporated into the proposed Heart Park.

There was support from the board, but the local councillor, Karen Stintz, was strongly opposed. She appeared before the Board and submitted the following letter:

The motion passed at the North York Community Preservation Panel incorrectly assumes that the bus shelter can be repaired/restored/preserved and protected and incorporated into the proposed heart park initiative for 1400 Avenue Road. The North York Preservation Panel did not consult with the local ward councillor, the Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission or the individual who has committed $25,000 for the creation of the 塗eart park.� If the North York Community Preservation Panel had deferred consideration of the motion until such consultation was complete, it would have been clear that preserving the shelter would obstruct the development of the park on this location.

Background

The land commonly known as the 徹tter Loop� had been declared surplus to the TTC needs in 1997. The land was offered for sale in October 2005 and when no suitable offers were received, it was re-listed in January 2006. On March 22, 2006 the TTC approved the recommendation to offer Otter Loop to the City of Toronto for use as open green space by the City of Toronto痴 Parks and Recreation Department for a nominal sum with all maintenance by City staff at no cost to the Commission.

The community is currently undertaking a fundraising drive, with a goal to raise $50,000 to create a green park in the current space. There will be a design competition run by the North Toronto Post Magazine and members of the community. The park has been named the 塗eart park� because the shape of the land and the park will form the shape of a heart.

The shelter does not offer any significant architectural or culture value. It is a brown, brick bus shelter that is in a significant state of disrepair. It currently houses garbage and provides shelter for anti-social behaviour. The community has repeatedly asked that this shelter be demolished for health and safety reasons.

Contrary to the motion痴 recommendation that 鍍he shelter could thus commemorate that larger sense of the City痴 health,� the shelter would be an impediment to the creation of the park. Furthermore, if the shelter had a cultural or architectural significance, it should have been designated at the time the property was listed for sale. Designating the shelter at this point in time will only frustrate the community痴 initiative to create a little piece of green space on Avenue Road.

It is critical that the Preservation Panel [sic: Board] receive the motion passed at the North York Community Preservation Panel or refer it back to the Panel so that there can be proper consultation.

Karen Stintz

Note:

  1. the chair of the Preservation Panel had contacted the offices of both the councillor and the chair of the TTC earlier in the week; and
  2. the proposal was not that the shelter be designated;

A second letter opposing retention of the shelter in any form was submitted by the publisher of Post City Magazines, the funder of the park design competition:

Re: Status of the bus shelter on the future site of Heart Park

To the members of the North York Preservation Board [actually the Toronto Preservation Board]:

At Post City Magazines we take supporting local history and historic initiatives very seriously. We work closely with the Thornhill Historical Society, the North York Historical Society, and the Rosedale, York Mills, Forest Hill Homeowners Associations. Furthermore, to underscore our dedication to the past, noted history author Jeanne Hopkins has been our resident historian for the past 17 years during which time we have published hundreds of historical articles.

The bus shelter at 1400 Avenue Road dating back to 1956 is, in our opinion, of no historical significance. While we always support the free discussion of ideas and community minded projects, to open this bus shelter up to the historical designation process undermines the incredible work that preservation boards like yours are constantly doing. It worries me that giving historical designation to this obtuse structure would invite potential ridicule; opening the flood gates to objects and items as irrelevant as historical bike racks, fire hydrants and phone booths.

Together with numerous local residents, we feel that the neighbourhood would be better served as a park. We have based our donation of $25,000 to the revitalization of this land on the premise that we could create a small space of beauty on one of Toronto痴 main thoroughfares. This sentiment is echoed in the efforts of local residents who are working hard fundraising for the park.

We hope that you will not support the initiative to create a historic bus shelter.

Lorne London
Publisher
Post City Magazines
416 250 7979

Note:

  1. the proposal was not to designate the bus shelter;
  2. the proposal was not to replace the park or to 套create a historic bus shelter,� but to incorporate the shelter into the park (套we feel that the neighbourhood would be better served as a park. We have based our donation of $25,000 to the revitalization of this land on the premise that we could create a small space of beauty on one of Toronto痴 main thoroughfares.�) Retaining the bus shelter does not pre-empt this goal.

After Councillor Stintz had read her letter to the Board, there was discussion about how to proceed, given the concern that the North York Panel痴 motion would be defeated at the North York Community Council.

Board member Janice Etter, chair of the Etobicoke York Community Preservation Panel, proposed an alternate motion in the hope that Councillor Stintz would be able to support it (and because it would bypass the community council):

That the Chair of the Toronto Preservation Board forward a letter to the organizer of the design competition for Heart Park requesting that consideration be given to incorporation of the Otter Loop transit shelter, on Avenue Rd. at Otter Crescent, into the design for the park.

Several board members pointed out to the councillor that while area residents want to fill the park with flowers (native, we hope), there are also many transit buffs who would like to see this small but significant part of TTC history preserved, and that nobody should discount or underestimate the creative possibilities of the design exercise. There was discussion about the terms of reference for the competition, and asking those entering the competition to attempt to include the shelter somewhere, somehow, in their designs.

The alternate motion passed, and Councillor Stintz did not oppose it.

It痴 now up to TTC buffs to make sure that the Councillor and funder hear from them, urging that the shelter be incorporated into the park design as a way of commemorating a significant relic of TTC history.

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