Is Toronto’s future cloaked in shadow?

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A proposed 38-storey mixed-used building in Toronto is projected to leave a nearby elementary school draped in long shadows for several hours at a time daily, igniting debate on the direction that new construction projects in the city should take.
 
The structure to be erected at Church-Wellesley Village has spurred a broad coalition—including the Toronto District School Board—to fight what has been called a threat to childhood development, the Toronto Star reported.
 
“These kids don’t get enough sun as it is,” according to Lisa Fleischmann, who has a daughter starting Grade 2 at the Church Street Junior Public School in September.
 
“We know [sun] is important for the kids,” TDSB trustee Chris Moise said. “It helps your mood, it helps you learn. … It’s good for cognitive growth.”
 
“To remove any other opportunities for sunlight… I think it’s almost a criminal act,” local Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam agreed. “In perpetuity, are we confining children to study and to play and develop their best years in darkness?”
 
Danny Roth, spokesperson for property owners Church/Wood Residences Limited Partnership, noted that the project had the blessings of “a lengthy consultation phase” with vital stakeholders such as residents, Councillor Wong-Tam, and TDSB members.
 
“These discussions have resulted in significant changes to our proposed application,” Roth stated, “most significantly … a reduction in the building’s height, from 45 to 38 storeys.”
 
The building is only the latest in a succession of high-rise developments that have been unanimously met with consternation among locals.
 
“The shadow is a symptom,” resident Nicki Ward said. “Growth is inevitable, but the village needs time to heal itself in between growth spurts.”
 
“It’s a 400-foot building — it’s going to have a 400-foot shadow,” Ward added.
 
“Every developer argues the same thing: it’s not a lot of shadow, it’s just a little bit of shadow,” Councillor Wong-Tam said.
 
The Toronto government suggested a much-altered 25-story design in lieu of the original proposal. The Ontario Municipal Board is set to decide on the issue over the next few months, in the wake of a two-day hearing last week.
 
The latest report by the Altus Group report for the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) revealed that high-rise sales (including condos) in the GTA rose by 25 per cent year-over-year in July. GTA apartments also saw markedly increased sales volume, surging by 52 per cent in the same period.

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