Midtown residents say Canada Square should be redeveloped as a ‘town centre’

Working group says redevelopment should include a school, public and community space, and an institute for higher learning


Andy Gort, President of the South Eglinton Residents and Ratepayer Association, said an application to redevelop Canada Square won’t fill the community’s needs. – David Nickle / Metroland File Photo

A coalition of residents in the Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue neighbourhood are asking the city to make potentially big changes on the city-owned Canada Square site on the south-west corner of the intersection – and put a hold on any application to redevelop the land by its long-term lease-holder, Oxford Properties.

Oxford’s $2.5 billion proposal would sit on top of the Eglinton subway station on Toronto’s Line 1 and see four massive residential towers – 70, 60, 54 and 45 storeys tall – along with 12.1 hectares of open space, 1,000 square metres of community space and replacing the office use that’s on the site now. 

But for the coalition of residents who came to Toronto’s Planning and Housing Committee June 28, that wasn’t enough to push back against the substantial growth in high-density residential developments that has so far not been accompanied by social and public infrastructure.

“We have found that the application doesn’t really respond to (our comments) since 80 per cent of the application is residential, and only 1,000 square metres is community space – and employment replacement is less than what’s there today,” said Andy Gort, president of the South Eglinton Ratepayers and Residents Association.

Gort was at the committee in support of recommendations from the Canada Square Special Study Area Working Group – a group of homeowners, tenants and business leaders that came together from the three city wards that cover the mid-town community. 

The group was formed in early May to deal with the fallout from the provincial government’s decision to overrule Toronto’s Midtown Study – another consensus-driven plan for the fast-growing community that addressed the need for basic infrastructure to match residential development.

Because the province’s decision to designate midtown as a provincial growth area and thereby limit the city’s authority to control development on privately-held land, the working group focused on the significant publicly-held lands at Canada Square – at 2180-2210 Yonge St., 15 Eglinton Ave. W., and 20 and 46 Berwick Ave.

Over the course of four meetings over the late spring of 2021, the group came up with a set of priorities for the land that Oxford is proposing to redevelop.

The site should become a new Town Centre for Midtown Toronto first and foremost, with a public square, parkland and open space, a higher-learning incident, community facilities, cultural and performing arts spaces, with a new elementary school and a limit on residential development.

Ann King,  a tenant representative of the Stanley Knowles Housing Cooperative said the affordable housing component was key.

“There is an abundance of residential housing and more on the way – we are under siege by developers whose primary goal seems to be to put up more towers, but one thing that’s in short supply is affordable housing,” she said. 

The three local councillors – Josh Matlow, Mike Colle and Jaye Robinson – supported an immediate endorsement of the plan holding off on moving ahead with Oxford’s plans until city planners could assess ways to incorporate the priorities of the working group.

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