Toronto City Council has approved the zoning by-law amendment from Councillor Jon Burnside (right) to permit a Costco Warehouse on Overlea Blvd. Council voted 21 to 7 at its meeting Wednesday November 4, 2015. The Costco proposal was modified so that the gas bar is not approved and will require further traffic studies after the warehouse is built and has been in operation for at least 6 months. The City will select the firm to do the traffic study. The substantial support for the proposal at Council is of interest. The Leaside Property Owners Association was opposed to the development on many points. The Thorncliffe Park area is said to have poverty levels of 40 percent and support there is very high for the Costco.
BEST FOR THE COMMUNITY
Councillor Gord Perks (Ward 14) in Parkdale was a strong opponent during debate. In the video below, he makes an extended defense of what are known as employment lands. He cites lands in Liberty Village which sat vacant “for decades” now being employed for light industrial or office purposes. For his part, Councillor Burnside reflected on the poverty in Thorncliffe Park and ended by saying “What I have here in my heart is the best deal for the community.” Make sure you watch the exchanges between Mr. Perks and Mr. Burnside. Costco has agreed to incorporate the 1965 Coca Cola office into its new store, this saves certain architectural features that were valued by some. The Walter Yarwood sculpture which has stood on Overlea since that time will also be given a place of honour at the site.
WHO VOTED HOW
In October, North York Community Council was unable to decide on approval. It split 3 to 3 with many members absent. At that time. Councillor Burnside issued a statement suggesting that he would support the proposal if the gas bar were reduced to 12 pumps from 18, that Costco do traffic studies and that Thorncliffe residents be hired. The embedded YouTube video covers a critical period in debate, apparently toward the end of the day November 4, 2015. It was posted to Twitter by Mayor Tory. Those opposed to the Costco were: Davis, Filion, Fletcher, Fragedakis, Matlow, Perks, Robinson. Among local Councillors supporting the Costco proposal, apart from Mr. Burnside (Ward 26) was Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27). Christin Carmichael Greb (Ward 16) was absent Mayor Tory voted in favour. For now, one can only imagine the personal deliberation of members such as Josh Matlow (Ward 22) and Jaye Robinson (Ward 25). They found themselves opposed to the Costco.