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Storefront Humber Construction and Lease Renewal – letter to Councillor Grimes

Storefront Humber Inc., under the leadership of Executive Director Mary Hansen, has carried out the excellent work of providing seniors with health care and transportation services for many years. We in the community fully support that good work.

With changing times and plans developed over the last 4 years, the community, represented by the co-signatories of the attached letter, namely the Mimico Lakeshore Network, the Mimico Residents Association, Kingsway Health and the Business Improvement Area, now feel strongly that a re-location from its Mimico Hall base needs to be urgently considered and undertaken. Especially, as many of you will have noticed, that construction of a frontal extension to the Mimico Hall building has commenced.

We are posting a copy of the letter that we have sent to the Councillor and Storefront Humber Inc. and invite your comments and opinions on this matter.   

For example, the building is used by one user. Might it be better used by a range of users? What functions should Mimico Hall contribute to the community? Public washrooms, meeting rooms, a community centre or a restaurant?

Mimico Residents Association


Sent: January 30, 2015

Dear Councillor Grimes,

We would like to draw your attention to an issue that has arisen with regards to the Mimico Hall building and its tenancy. The co-signatories of this letter are extremely concerned about the course of events that are unfolding and are looking forward to your prompt response. This is not about the work done by Storefront Humber Inc. but it is about the location of their operations.

Affirmation of Support for the Work of Storefront Humber Inc.

The Mimico Residents Association, the Business Improvement Area, Kingsway Health and the Mimico Lakeshore Network wish to assure everyone that it fully supports the very valuable work that the current tenant of Mimico Hall carries out for the community. Storefront Humber Inc. provides excellent services for the health and transportation of seniors across southern Etobicoke.

Our concern is only about the current use of Mimico Hall, so we would like to emphasize that we fully support the activities of Storefront Humber Inc., however we feel strongly that another location can and should be found where this community asset can continue its operations to serve the community.

When another location for the services of Storefront Humber Inc. is found, then the building becomes a key part of the Mimico Square community centre as the Secondary Plan states. It then will cater to a range of uses rather than a single one.

The Construction of an Extension to the Mimico Community Hall at Lakeshore Boulevard West and Mimico Avenue.

Allowing the building addition to proceed with plans presumably tailored to suit the tenant’s need without community warning or consultation is extra-ordinary and unsettling. We have not been shown the addition’s plans. Apparently, a new long-term BMR lease is to be implemented in 2015 or 2016. We request that we be given the opportunity to review the lease prior to its implementation.

Construction commenced on the building’s front extension on or about December 10th 2014. While the controversy about the tenancy and use of Mimico Hall has been aired for a decade and been ignored for the last 5 years, it is time to again bring this extra-ordinary situation forward to you, Storefront Humber Inc. and the community.

To make sure all the appropriate factors and procedures of the City process are in place, we wish that you clarify and confirm the following:

  1. Has the Mimico-by-the Lake Secondary Plan been implemented into the zoning by-law? If so, when was this done?
  2. Was the Mimico Community Hall subject to a site plan review?
  3. What is the status of the site plan review?
  4. Was the public consulted or informed of the review?
  5. If not, what was the reason for not consulting or informing?
  6. Has a building permit been issued for the construction and is it posted?

In July 2013, Council adopted the new Mimico-by-the-Lake Secondary Plan that provides the policy framework for revitalization and change within the Mimico community. This report can be accessed at the following link: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2013.EY25.15

In the Plan, Amos Waites Park and Mimico Square are identified as being the Cultural and Recreational centre of Mimico-by-the-Lake. The BIA has identified the Mimico Community Hall as crucial component to make that vision a reality and the MRA and the BIA has made that view known to the City. Given this, it was profoundly disappointing to see construction begin on an addition to the building which is being built and paid for by the current tenant, Storefront Humber Inc., a private not- for-profit Corporation. The addition is being built on prime waterfront park land without public consultation and is resulting in no consideration of other possible uses that could take advantage of the location for the benefit of the community.

In addition to you responding to the questions posed above, we would also like you to respond promptly to the following three questions and point out if the associated comments are incorrect:

  1. Since City Council has adopted a Secondary Plan for the Mimico-by-the-Lake area which identifies Amos Waites Park and the areas around it to be the Cultural and Recreational centre of the area, how can it allow a project to proceed that is not consistent with that plan?

Comment: It appears that nobody in the City is reviewing decisions made on a prime waterfront park land property that is identified in the Secondary Plan as being the key social and recreational hub of the area. It is as though no Plan exists. How is it possible for this to be ignored, especially when the Residents and Businesses of the area have specifically asked for it to be reviewed? Many things have changed since the building was leased a generation ago and we believe it must be reviewed so that the new conditions can be considered. The property in question has become a prime waterfront location due to the investment of more than $20 million dollars in the Park and the Waterfront Trail.

 

  1. What policies are in place that allow private corporations who benefit from Below Market Rent (BMR) leases to customize City owned buildings to their purpose?

Comment: If allowed, this activity will further entrench their tenancies. There is no doubt that if this was a private building, the proposed addition would have to be reviewed by the Committee of Adjustments and development charges and payments in lieu of parking would be required. Why then is a lower standard is being applied here? Parking at the site is already inadequate when the tenant’s offices are open. The standard should be higher due to the long term impact on the community and importance of the waterfront location. The City may argue that it can exempt itself from its own rules, however allowing a Private Corporation to have carte blanche on a City owned waterfront property is unacceptable.

  1. Does the current policy and the current lease, give SFH any assurance of their tenancy continuing beyond 2016? Secondly, what assurances have been given to the Board of SFH?

Comment: Since BMR leases can’t be renewed early and the tenant may then have to leave – then either the Board of SFH is acting in a negligent and reckless manner or they have been given assurances that are counter to the policy of the City. The BIA was told by the Executive Director of the Social Development Finance and Administration Branch that the City would never ask an existing BMR Tennant to leave even at the end of a lease.

The MRA executive and the BIA raised this issue to your office in mid-December 2014 as construction commenced. Apart from input from the Buildings Department saying it is a City owned property and they will be going ahead, we have not received any comment or response to this urgent matter from City planners who must be made aware of this activity.

The seven businesses in the immediately adjacent strip mall to Mimico Hall have neither been consulted nor informed of the construction or its duration. This is counter to City’s declared practice in dealing with issues that affect communities.

Yours truly,

John Cary, President, Mimico Residents Association.
Dr. Don Henderson, Kingsway Health.
Harry Oussoren, Mimico Lakeshore Network.
David Pritchard, President, Mimico Business Improvement Area.

CC: Peter Milczyn, MPP, Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
CC: Mary Hansen, Executive Director, Storefront Humber Inc.

Comments

  1. Mary Hansen, Executive Director, Storefront Humber
    needs a nice office space overlooking the lake in order to do her work funded by taxpayers.
    Who cares about Amos Waites Park public washrooms and community centres.

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