Matthew Slutsky
BuzzBuzzHome Corp.
March 31, 2010

Yonge and Eglinton Square is one of the ugliest and most barren spaces in Toronto. It is a patch of concrete that people walk over while getting from point A to point B. It is not a place where people hang-out. It is not a place that anyone would ever want to congregate on.

This ugly square (I should also mention uncomfortable, due to the wind tunnel effect) is currently under a lot of controversy. Why? Because the owner (RioCan) wants to make-it-better! According to their website:

“This proposed development will see the addition of approximately 40,000 square feet over three easily accessed levels at the corner of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue.

The plan is to enclose a portion of the existing open space or pedestrian square with the retail addition. The project will feature contemporary and innovative designs and will transform the property into an exciting destination for midtown Toronto.”

Sounds awesome to me! What is the problem? The YES Coalition (for Yonge-Eglinton Square), a group of NIMBYists and politians want to block the redevelopment. Why? According to them, and their website, it is a ‘jewel of Toronto’, and Michael Walker called it “a congregation, a centre of activity for the citizens of Toronto.” Huh?!?! Is this a joke? Has anyone of these people actually been to that ugly patch of concrete?

Check out this hilarious video from their website… Notice how they have sped it up to actually make it look busy? Notice how people are just walking through it?

There is also a video on their website of an event from last Monday. Just look at the footage… there is no one there!! Their demonstration further proves the point that no one hangs out there!

YES is hoping that city council will overrule the recommendation of the city’s planning staff and vote down the redevelopment plan. I want to start a group called NONIMBY.

RioCan wants to improve the corner and add value to the neighbourhood (check out their Facebook page, here). RioCan plans to fix up the two office towers and add 40,000 square feet more retail space by covering part of the square with a three-storey glass-enclosed mall. What else? It will put a roof garden on top of the mall. It will spend a quarter of a million dollars on public art. It will build a wind-catching barrier to calm the windy intersection. Sounds amazing. Maybe they will make the intersection a “destination” for Toronto!

All in all, with the new plans, the amount of public space will only be decreased by 10%, but it will be so much better! But, who am I to say it will be better? Why not listen to a City Planning report, “the proposal provides an improved public realm including active building edges and pedestrian-supportive streetscape while continuing to mark the importance of the Yonge-Eglinton intersection with an improved landscaped open space at grade.”

Here is what some BuzzBuzzHome staff have to say who live in the area:

“There is no one ever there”

“Sometimes smokers hang out there”

What do you think?

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