Honest Ed's Redevelopment: The Back Story

We thought we'd try something different this time for the recap of our most recent Grounds for Thought discussion.

Two student journalists were in the audience for our talk on the Honest Ed's Redevelopment: ​The Back Story, which took place on Tuesday, September 27. As an exercise, both students were prompted to live tweet a public event and that event was our Honest Ed's talk.

Students Fallon Hewitt and Rob Lowrey both produced a thorough blow-by-blow, so to speak, of the discussion and those tweet streams follow below.

Our presenter for the night: Max Allen, a producer of the CBC Radio One program Ideas, curator of the Textile Museum of Canada, and VP for planning and development of the Grange Community Association. Our host for the night: David Cayley, a Toronto-based Canadian writer and broadcaster, and a long-time contributor to CBC's Ideas.

Note: Some additional background information has been added by The Grounds for Thought (@for_grounds) organizers in square brackets.

Fallon Hewitt ‏@fallonhewitt_ Sep 27

Free admission and a free cup of coffee for those who attend the monthly @for_grounds discussions. #JOUR3001 [We're now twice monthly. ~ @for_grounds]

Each table has two booklets; inside are design plans for the development at southern side of Bloor and Bathurst #JOUR3001

Tonight's talking points are followed. #JOUR3001

Producer Max Allen will be tonight's speaker for the event. #JOUR3001

Quite the crowd here for tonight's discussion. Half are debatably just here to have coffee and hangout. #JOUR3001 [It is good coffee. ~ @for_grounds]

Allen: Paid rent of 75 dollars a month to Ed Mirvish on Markham Street in the 1970s. #JOUR3001

Allen: None of the houses in Markham Street were built with the same permits and plans as today. #JOUR3001

Allen: The rule scheme that dictates building in Toronto is complicated. #JOUR3001

Allen: Directs to a brown paper bag in booklet; brings up people asking about corruption and displeasure with the development. #JOUR3001

Allen: Reflects on a lunch he had in the 80's with a developer; references the paper bag, believes it was filled with money. #JOUR3001

Allen: Can you buy favourable outcomes in the developer world today? #JOUR3001

Allen believes not. #JOUR3001

Allen: All developers say all the good things; they have to. #JOUR3001

Allen: Wind studies have never been properly done; puts City Hall in a position they can't get out of. #JOUR3001

Allen speaks about policy guidelines and laws. #JOUR3001

Policy guidelines are so elastic you could build an elephant in the intersection says Allen. #JOUR3001

Allen: The Mirvish Village was designed from the beginning as a massive commercial and residential project; 948 units proposed. #JOUR3001

Allen: Some units will be rented at affordable rates; always a question in Toronto; 10 percent of the units. #JOUR3001

Allen: Affordable is not subsidized, subsidized is affordable. #JOUR3001

Allen: 10 percent of the site will be devoted to a public park; not in the original design. Park will be maintained by developer. #JOUR3001

Allen: Originally the houses on Markham Street were going to be preserved; houses have been registered on heritage register. #JOUR3001

Allen reaffirms what the heritage designation means. #JOUR3001

There was originally going to be an open air garden; originally to span Markham Street; city made it impossible. #JOUR3001

Allen: The project has 600 parking spaces underground; won't be under the park. #JOUR3001

Allen uses the booklets as reference, a great visual tool. #JOUR3001

Allen: Markham Street will become a pedestrian village. #JOUR3001

Allen: asks crowd to distinguish which plan was first and second. Which one do you like better, he asks. #JOUR3001

The top version is what they intend to build now; building in bottom right has shrunk; design has simplified. #JOUR3001

The design is full of green roofs; developer plans on putting trees on each roof #JOUR3001

Allen directs people to look; gives them time to check it out #JOUR3001

Allen: Who has leverage in these decisions? #JOUR3001

Allen: City Hall has more than you'd think; residents have little. #JOUR3001

Allen: Believes the bottom buildings have aesthetically pleasing proportions.

Allen: You see pictures like this in condo ads all the time. These pictures are views no human will ever see. #JOUR3001

Allen: The views you see in architectural drawings are not realistic unless you're a bird. #JOUR3001

Allen: Every building follows the 45 degree angular plan, no building can protrude beyond it, reduces amount of obstruction of sun #JOUR3001

Allen explains the technicalities behind the design process and rules that apply to the development. #JOUR3001

These rules are what make a nice building, a nice city. #JOUR3001

Allen references to the condos that already exist at Bathurst and Bloor. #JOUR3001 [These are the B.streets Condos at 783 Bathurst St. ~ @for_grounds]

Discusses the retail at grade ideal; retail is a must; the trouble is that every space is empty, has been that way for months. #JOUR3001 [See here for more on "retail at street grade" and what it means ~ @for_grounds]

Allen talks about the dark glass; no good for displays; compares the retail space to older spaces across the street. #JOUR3001

The older retail spaces are full. #JOUR3001

This is intense. #JOUR3001

The four corner study is something facing the intersection; used to make more room for development. #JOUR3001 [See here for more on the Bathurst-Bloor Four Corners Study ~ @for_grounds]

Westbank is a Vancouver-based development company; has many projects proposed in Toronto #JOUR3001 [Westbank Corp. is the developer behind the Mirvish Village project ~ @for_grounds]

Westbank has just brought all the failed retail space in the existing condos. #JOUR3001

Gregory Henriquez is the designer of the new development; pictured in booklet; posing in front of Honest Ed's oddly enough. #JOUR3001

Allen turns the discussion to the behind the scenes factor of the development; it's a mess of rules and decision making bodies #JOUR3001

Councillors play a huge part in these plans; they vote or do nothing at all. #JOUR3001

Public is allowed little deputation on the developments; public have little say if any at all. #JOUR3001

Allen discusses adjustment committee and fees; fee is well over $4000. #JOUR3001 [More on Toronto's Adjustment Committee]

80% of cases sent to the Ontario Municipal Board are won by the City. #JOUR3001

OMB hearings cannot be recorded; no verbal recordings as well. Public is welcome to go; quite the show according to Allen. #JOUR3001

Allen: Policy law is always open to interpretation; always written to give the most favourable interpretation to developments. #JOUR3001

Allen says Westbank has been very transparent with plans; but they are very detailed. Everything about Mirvish Village is online. #JOUR3001 [See here]

Allen directs people to illustration of Ontario [...]; points out lots of transportation. #JOUR3001

Allen believes the Ontario government has woken up to the biggest issue facing the people of Ontario: transportation. #JOUR3001

Allen goes on to discuss the many projects Toronto has for transit. #JOUR3001

Also discusses the many four corner plans the city has going on at once. Countless projects. #JOUR3001

The plan makes Bathurst and Bloor look wildly different; it's actually incredibly sad to look at #JOUR3001

A question period has begun for the audience. #JOUR3001

First question from a resident #JOUR3001

Is it a balance between stakeholders and tenancy? #JOUR3001

Are they needed or not? - audience member #JOUR3001

Allen: The only way families can start out is to have units such as these according to the city; houses are too expensive. #JOUR3001

Current projects going on in the city. #JOUR3001

Do you feel the parking is adequate? - Resident #JOUR3001

Allen: Believes some parking will be for shoppers and residents; does mention that people are increasingly walking to work. #JOUR3001

Allen: The developer has agreed that no city parking permits will be given to residents of the building; can't congest streets. #JOUR3001

Next audience member reflects on where she shops in the area. #JOUR3001

Sees the development as positive [for the] area. Reflects on childhood; audience members demand questions. #JOUR3001

People are getting heated and it's awkward. #JOUR3001 [It was. Our apologies to that member of the audience. ~ @for_grounds]

Asks Allen what he thinks; negative or positive view; Allen doesn't think in those terms #JOUR3001

Allen goes on to reply regarding the reliability of Westbank in affiliation to the control of the development and how it's run. #JOUR3001

Allen is confident in the way it will be run. #JOUR3001

Some in crowd have heard ground for the project will be broken in March; Allen doesn't believe this to be true. #JOUR3001

Allen describes the construction as going to be "hell on earth" #JOUR3001

The construction will disrupt everything. #JOUR3001

If they don't get a construction manager things won't go well; they need a leg to stand on. #JOUR3001

Next question is on affordable housing and the concern for lack thereof #JOUR3001

How much will the units sell for? Allen replies that he has no idea. #JOUR3001

Affordable units will be market average. #JOUR3001

Development will only change if development charges are increased downtown and lowered outside of the core. #JOUR3001

Allen: "The buildings you like in Toronto were not built under the [planning] regime of today." #JOUR3001

Allen on Markham Street: "Not built under planning regime." #JOUR3001

Allen has a clear appreciation for the historical buildings of Toronto; one we should all share #JOUR3001

A glass broke and Allen kept talking, true. #JOUR3001 [True. ~ @for_grounds]

Allen discusses planning being based on infrastructure such as sewers and water needs; developers should pay for it. #JOUR3001

Another question: How are the proposed units possible? #JOUR3001

Allen goes on to discuss how developers just take money and run; buyers hand money to developer and it goes away. #JOUR3001

Audience member brings up how rare condos were 50 years ago; no need for the model then. #JOUR3001

I totally forgot that @joe_cressy was mentioned; why isn't he here tonight? #JOUR3001

Allen and audience member are getting into it; Allen isn't taking what he's saying for truth #JOUR3001

Allen tries to bring it back to the first question from the audience member. All has been lost on this question #JOUR3001

Allen believes the developer is honest; he believes people like that are out there #JOUR3001

Audience member asks about traffic problems; Allen is sure there will be problems #JOUR3001

Allen believes self driving cars will help; also brings up Uber and their self driving car involvement #JOUR3001

Audience member asks about congestion; Allen mentions wider sidewalks are planned, and more underground services will come #JOUR3001

Audience member also has concerns about light due to tower blockage; Allen reflects on Grange [condos] project and reflect light #JOUR3001

203 College St actually had to be adjusted due to too much reflection #JOUR3001

Shadow studies must be considered #JOUR3001

Allen says he's cold; an audience [member] jokes about lending him her hot flash lolol #JOUR3001

Audience member can't understand why services are poorer despite the city looking wealthy #JOUR3001

Allen: Politicians will avoid making unpopular decisions with any one of their affiliates #JOUR3001

Allen: City neglects to make decisions; everyone is off the hook; "the sound of hands being washed at City Hall is extraordinary" #JOUR3001

Allen: Believes they met a tipping point when @JohnTory rode the subway and roasted.

Allen brings up how the AGO's fire suppression service is not up to par; they have reached out to the water department #JOUR3001

Water department said they need a new system entirely #JOUR3001

Discussion is strangely cut off. Confused but the audience seemed pleased. #JOUR3001

Well I guess that's it! Thanks Max Allen for an informative discussion. #JOUR3001



Rob ‏@RobLowrey3 Sep 27

Hello! I'll be live tweeting the Honest Ed's redevelopment talk held at the Green Beanery. It will commence at 8pm. #JOUR3001

Audience members were given this for tonight's talk. #JOUR3001

Producer Max Allen will be the speaker this evening. #JOUR3001

The topics for this evening are as follows. #JOUR3001

Less than five minutes until the talk begins. Free coffee is available to those interested. #JOUR3001

The brownies however are divine #JOUR3001 [Thank you. ~ @for_grounds]

Allen: "My connection with Mirvish Village goes back to 1975." #JOUR3001

Allen: "Sometimes people ask me why the development project is corrupt." #JOUR3001

Allen tells a story about a lunch meeting he had with an architect in 1981. #JOUR3001

Allen: "Money helps and buys other things." #JOUR3001

Allen: "Policy law is full of descriptions with desirable decisions and outcomes." #JOUR3001

The Mirvish Village building complex has always been designed as commercial according to Allen. #JOUR3001

"There's a great need for rental houses in the city." Allen. #JOUR3001

Allen: "The units across the street will be affordable units" in regards to condos replacing Honest Eds #JOUR3001

Throughout the talk we're flipping through the booklet. All of which are outlines of potential plans for the future. #JOUR3001

An open air market in Markham street was originally on the plans. #JOUR3001

The city denied the outdoor marketplace. The market place would've included an intricate roof (why it was denied) #JOUR3001

Underground Parking located on the Bathurst side of the street. #JOUR3001

Markham St. will be mainly pedestrian used. #JOUR3001

Imagine Yorkville and Kensington being put in a blender. That's potentially Markham St. #JOUR3001

Allen: "Not only is there going to be grass and shrubs, but also trees will be planted on these buildings." #JOUR3001

City Hall apparently has lots of leverage towards the plans. #JOUR3001

That's a lot of trees...#JOUR3001

Designs were not done for aesthetic reasons, but for shadows #JOUR3001

The city must obey rules #JOUR3001

It can't protrude into anything that has a 45 degree angle. #JOUR3001

How the city feels about Honest Eds closing and condos being replaced. #JOUR3001

Peterson and Westbank are major developers endorsing the condos #JOUR3001

Allen: "This talk is all about the back story of the project." #JOUR3001

Behind the scenes are apparently a hydra of a mess of decision making #JOUR3001

The groups behind the decision making #JOUR3001

Ontario Municipal Board acts like the court of the situation. #JOUR3001

Allen: "People leave the court in tears all the time." JOUR3001

There's no voice recorders allowed in the OMB meeting #JOUR3001

Allen: "Policy law is always up for interpretation." JOUR3001

All of the planning documents for the Honest Eds site are available online. #JOUR3001

The City of Toronto currently has seven planning strategies underway. #JOUR3001

Questions are now being taken #JOUR3001

Max Allen is also the President of the [Grange] Condo Corporation. #JOUR3001

Allen is unsure if the parking spaces are open to shoppers or strictly for the residents #JOUR3001

The tension is very awkward right now. #JOUR3001

When do you expect the develop will break ground and when do you think it will finish?" #JOUR3001

Allen: "The construction for this site will be a nightmare. Hell on earth." #JOUR3001

It is rumoured the project will break ground in March, 2017. Allen doesn't believe this is true. #JOUR3001

Allen: "My solution for this planning hydra is to eliminate the planning rules." #JOUR3001

Allen referenced the beautiful buildings at the U of T campus and questioned how they got them. #JOUR3001

He says how the university achieved the buildings was because of the lack of rules. #JOUR3001

A glass broke and Allen didn't even address it. The real MVP #JOUR3001 [lol ~ @for_grounds]

This is the third time the moderator has spoken within this hour and a half talk. #JOUR3001

The audience member is holding the mic but not using it to answer the question. #JOUR3001

"Does the rental unit have to abide to a certain amount of units?" - audience member. #JOUR3001

Allen is unsure if the rental properties will turn into condos. Possibly someday. #JOUR3001

Audience members slowly trickling out of the coffee shop. #JOUR3001

One more question! #JOUR3001

"I can't understand why services aren't keeping up with the amount of condos being built." #JOUR3001

Allen: Because politicians won't make any decisions that are unpopular with their constituents. #JOUR3001 [Edited for clarity. ~ @for_grounds]

That's it for me tonight! Green Beanery hosts "Ground for Thought" every last Tuesday of every month. #JOUR3001 [We've gone twice a month for the time being. ~ @for_grounds]

I'm Rob Lowrey, signing off. #JOUR3001


Our next event is set for Tuesday, October 11 @ 8 PM: Trudeau's Human Rights Compromise. See here for more information.

Lisa Peryman
Lisa Peryman


Lisa Peryman has worked with Greenpeace Australia and The Wilderness Society (Australia). She studied journalism in New Zealand and book and magazine publishing in Canada. Her background includes reporting and editing for daily newspapers and trade magazines, as well as creative copywriting for broadcast. Lisa is continuing her studies in Canada and currently works with Probe International as an editor and writer. Earnings from Green Beanery operations support the work of Probe International, a Canadian charity that works with citizens' groups around the world to protect their lands and their livelihoods. Probe International is a Canadian trust.