In May 2023, BV Realty Partners proposed to demolish the houses from 2 to 12 Cawthra Square and to redevelop the site with a 45-storey residential tower, including a 3-storey podium. The proposal is for 488 residential units.
On January 18, 2024, a Community Consultation was held. Community members had many objections to the project. CWNA Board members attended the meeting and have submitted a written response to the proposal.
Among the concerns raised:
- Height: The current buildings in and around the project are low rise. Even if one concedes that the site could be developed at a greater height it should be consistent with buildings to the south that are in the 20-storey range, rather than the proposed 45 storeys.
- Community benefits: Those outlined are vague and sometimes debatable as to how they qualify as "benefits" (ie a public easement on the west side of the property; a walkway to Montieth Street).
- Transportation: The street is a dead end, only 1 1/2 lanes wide and the sidewalks are narrow. Despite underground parking for service vehicles, the potential for vehicles blocking the street and sidewalks is very high.
- Parks and Trees: the building will create shadow over Barbara Hall Park; the park will experience overuse from increased foot and bicycle traffic; 15 trees will be removed on the building site.
Heritage: The City has listed 6-12 Cawthra Square on the Heritage Register. The Heritage Study should be resubmitted and at least the facades of the listed
buildings should be saved.
The full CWNA response to the development can be viewed here.
You can review the development application documentation, including the architectural plans, the block context plan and the shadow study by clicking "Supporting Documentation" at the Development Application Information Centre page for this application.
Barbara Hall Park will be undergoing major improvements in the near future. The City is collaborating with the Church Wellesley community to develop a new vision and Master Plan. The objectives of the park vision and Master Plan are to enhance the park’s function for everyday use and, as a central gathering space for the City’s LGBTQ2S+ community, a space capable of accommodating passive and active uses, special events, moments of reflection, and to improve park maintenance and safety.
Phase 1 of Community Engagement started in May 2023. During this phase, the City worked with residents and stakeholders to define a renewed overall vision for the park, including a series of Design Principles and Big Moves which will guide the development of design options in Phase 2. This section, reproduced verbatim from the City of Toronto website, is organized as follows:
Finalized Drivers of Change
These are the opportunities and challenges driving the need for a change to the park’s design.
A place with diverse users and needs
Barbara Hall Park has diverse users with varied needs. In many ways, the space is expected to be “everything to everyone”: a space for the everyday, while also being a place for reflection, mourning and celebration, and where people come to access the services of the 519 Community Centre. In the past, the park accommodated all of these uses quite well, but this has not been the case more recently. There is a lack of cohesion between the different park elements, and the park struggles to accommodate the huge number of users who visit during the annual Green Space Festival.
A green heart in need of improvement
The park is the green heart of the Church-Wellesley Village – a highly prized oasis of green within the community that is also its central gathering place. The raised lawn, garden beds, and canopy trees are all highly valued by nearby residents. However, the park lacks an appropriate range of seating, is not properly lit, and the pathways are not wide enough to accommodate heavy use. The programmed spaces present maintenance challenges that the community would like improved. The park has a lack of flat surfaces which make it difficult to program.
A place for reflection and grief
As the home of two significant LGBTQ2S+ memorials, the Toronto AIDS Memorial and the Trans Memorial, Barbara Hall Park is an important community space for grief, reflection, and activism. There is a strong desire to maintain these memorials as places where people can grieve or reflect quietly. However, there is a feeling that these memorials are not properly or clearly identified or maintained and they are sometimes vandalized. In addition, the AIDS Memorial does not resonate strongly with HIV-positive youth, who feel it should also inspire hope and celebrate the lives of those people who are currently living with HIV.
A place where people sometimes feel unsafe
The lack of clear sightlines throughout the park and the presence of dark corners present safety challenges and often attract undesirable activities, like drug use and drug dealing. Particular areas of the park, including the area to the south of the 519 and the northeast corner of the park, lack good lighting and/or programming and can feel particularly unsafe.
Draft Vision Statement
A vision statement is a short description of the ideal future park. It inspires everyone towards a common understanding of the project’s overall goals. The draft vision for Barbara Hall park is:
A revitalized Barbara Hall Park will be an inclusive and welcoming space that is the green focal point of the City’s 2SLGBTQ+ community in the Church-Wellesley Village. As home of the AIDS and Trans Memorials, the park will offer calm and quiet space for reflection and mourning of those lost, while also celebrating the history and resilience of the 2SLGBTQ+ community through heritage interpretation, art and culture. The park design will ensure it is a place where everyone in the surrounding community feels welcome and comfortable while centering needs of the most vulnerable. Barbara Hall Park will be a highly accessible, functional and cohesive space that is easy to program and is animated throughout the year with community-focused programming for people of all ages, ethnicities, abilities, and incomes. It will be a place to gather, celebrate, and heal.
Draft Guiding Principles
Guiding principles are high-level directions that reflect the community’s most important values and ideas for how the park should look and feel. They help guide how the park should be designed so that the vision statement can be achieved. The draft guiding principles for Barbara Hall Park are:
Big moves are the main priorities for the design of the park. They are specific directions to the design team that flow from the vision and principles and help to make them a reality. In no particular order, the draft big moves for Barbara Hall Park are:
A Phase I Summary Report is expected to be released very soon.
The timeline for the project, subject to change:
A new tower is being proposed at the north-east corner of Church and Wellesley, opposite from the recently approved tower across the street. 505, 507 and 509 Church St. and 68, 72 and 76 Wellesley St. E. are owned by KingSett Capital, which submitted a development application on Feb. 1, 2024 for a 28-storey tower with about 258 dwelling units, preserving the existing heritage buildings. The building (centre) would be the same height as the recently completed 81 Wellesley East (right) and the recently approved 66 Wellesley East (left) but with little no setback from Church Street.
The properties are currently leased to several businesses, including the Pizza Pizza at the corner. There are apartment rentals above.
A community consultation will take place in the near future.
For more information:
Development Application Information Centre: