Sent: May 14, 2013
Dear Councillor Grimes:
Position: Storefront Humber Lease Renewal and Renovation
The Mimico Residents Association has heard from concerned residents and business owners in Mimico about the long-term future use of Storefront Humber (SFH) and the surrounding area. The issues that have been raised to the MRA are the following:
1) The facility does not seem to be adequate for SFH’s current needs, which they contend are expanding. There is currently a permit application for an addition/expansion on the front of the building.
2) There are no public washrooms for square events and in Mimico Square and Storefront Humber is not equipped to facilitate this need.
3) A community centre for current and future users would better serve the entire community in the long term.
4) Should the land be made into a community-focused place, an increase in business interests would be anticipated.
5) With waterfront property at a premium, it does not seem appropriate that SFH only pays $1 per year in rent to the City of Toronto.
The MRA met with Storefront Humber Director Mary Hansen last fall to discuss these concerns. We discussed the use of the building and their plans for expansion. We were also informed about the programs that are run out of SFH.
At this time, the MRA position on SFH is that while they deliver important services to our senior community, most of the space in the present building is used for administration that could be conducted equally well at a different site. We feel that there is an opportunity to enhance this central location by converting or expanding it into a lively venue for all community involvement and enjoyment.
Therefore, in the long term, we urge the Councillor to look for ways that this central piece of land could be better used to serve the entire community and ensure that community consultation is sought. The DRAFT Mimico 20/20 plan suggests that a community centre is needed in Mimico, and the growth in population that will come with future development will also necessitate more community spaces and amenities.
We remain committed to promoting the quality of residential and economic life in and around the Mimico area.
Kyra Trainor, President
Mimico Residents Association
Cc: Laurel Broten, MPP
Thank you to the Mimico Residents Association for your pro-active letter to our Councillor on this subject. We (BIA) have had meetings with our SFH’s Board and Councillor on the future use of the old Community Centre since occupied by Storefront Humber for $1/year for the last 20 plus years. We have had representatives attend the Committee meeting to vote for an amendment to allow SFH to build a 1200 sq. ft addition (they voted in favour). Our Councillor has basically said there is “No plan” with respect to any community use of this public asset. So this construction addition and lease renewals have and will be decided by Boards/City staff – none of which actually live, work or play in Mimico!
We need a Community Centre at Amos Waites Park. The 20-20 Revitalization Plan is stated to provide for the expansion and improvement of waterfront parks. At the foot of Mimico Avenue and Lake Shore Blvd West, the Amos Waite Park is becoming a popular and busy hub with Mimico Square events. The swimming pool, pedestrian access to the Linear Park extension both to the east and west, a previously proposed dingy ramp at the foot of the linear park for visiting boaters (750 boats in Mimico harbour with 1000 boating visitors per summer), a proposed splash pad for children and the 20-20 Revitalization plans for Mimico by-the-Lake prompt BIA/residents’ need for a successful facility and vibrant Mimico Community square.
In looking at principles that make a vibrant community square, a 2005 Study concluded the following essential elements; image/identity (e.g., link to lake and yacht clubs, Board walk and business, residential HBSCA and central Mimico communities), attractions (e.g., band shell, children’s amenities, programmed activities), central location reaching in all directions (stop light at foot of Mimico Ave., transportation links, amenities (lighting, seating, public art, unobstructed pedestrian pathways, shade areas, washrooms, waste receptacles, parking, etc.), seasonal strategy (art displays, skating, concerts, swimming, cafes, X-mas tree lighting events), easy facility access (Mimico Square is on the main road and waterfront path with adjacent stores nearby), a structural facility for community shareholder use (meetings, police stop, events, classes), municipal and community volunteer activity management (BIAs, ratepayer/resident committee, City support staff, maintenance/safety, policing station need), partnership funding (BIA, film/art projects, markets, City).
So it is clear that Amos Waite Park has many natural attributes inherent in its location and the redesigned development to date (cement pad, band shell, pool, lake access, etc). Hence the Mimico by-the-Lake BIAs recommendation; consistent with effective planning, to consider all elements in making the park all it can be. Amos Waite Park/Mimico Square will represent the “Village Heart” with a neighbourhood draw to the Lake.
Our BIA has been actively engaged in the Mimico 20/20 Revitalization process over the past 7-8 years; and as a result, we’ve concluded that creating a vibrant Mimico Square is essential to the growth of our community. We consider that the physical premises at Storefront Humber (SFH) could be an asset to the entire business, resident and visiting community. We value the in-house services provided by SFH but, naturally, have to consider the future use of such a strategic facility as a benefit to all in the community. With the plan for SFH to expand because of physical need, it seemed that SFH has outgrown its space needs and requires larger premises? This is why – with the building lease of a publically-owned asset coming due in 2016 – we needed to propose alternatives before rather than after 2016 when the building would be locked into another lease. We propose that the facility described could be used as a community centre – this was a recommendation arising from 20-20 revitalization public consultations.
To affirm the significance of the Amos Waites Park by the City, the following is taken from the AMENDMENT NO. 197 TO THE OFFICIAL PLAN OF THE CITY OF TORONTO document; Amos Waites Park is a “central recreational and social focus for the community, complementary to the Village Heart. This may include the expansion of the public park and enhanced park facilities and programming”. The park stated to be the “primary community social and recreational hub” and “priority consideration shall be given for new investment in facilities and programming as well as opportunities for further parkland acquisition”.
It is true that we don’t yet have a plan for alternative uses for the city-owned building that Storefront Humber Inc occupies for a nominal rent. The major reason there is no plan is that all our (the BIA’s) requests to engage in such a discussion with the City have been ignored or refused.
The closest thing we have to a plan is the Mimico 20/20 document which is expected to go to Council for final approval soon. Some aspects of the Mimico 20/20 report have proven to be controversial – but there’s a part of Mimico 20/20 that we think everyone supports – that is the future plans for Amos Waites Park and Mimico Square – referred to as “Precinct D” in the report. Those plans are very clear:
“Precinct D‐Is primarily comprised of Amos Waites Park. The primary objective of this Precinct is to create a central recreational and social focus for the community, complementary to the Village Heart. This may include the expansion of the public park and enhanced park facilities and programming.”
It will be impossible to really this work without investing in and having access to the City owned facilities that already exist in the park. These facilities include the Community Hall. The Square, Playground and the Pool.
We have no information on the future plans of Storefront Humber Inc but as an organization with a $5 million annual budget well over 100 employees I would expect that they do have a long term plan. I would also expect the City to discuss that plan with them before giving permission to build an extension onto the City-owned building because it will further entrench their tenancy …. with no additional benefit to the community. The problem is that the previous addition to the building is being used as a justification for them being allowed to build this extension …. so it follows that this extension will be used as a justification for future extensions. How much of our prime waterfront park land is the City willing to have paved over to accommodate Storefront Humber Inc’s needs – keeping in mind that most of the good work they do – they do in the homes of the clients they serve? I would expect City staff to explore the future options carefully, especially in light of the the fact expanding Storefront Humber Inc at this location conflicts with their own Mimico 20/20 plan. (Different staff… I know, but same Councillor and Council)
Storefront Humber does great work. Providing Home Care Services to Seniors is an important part of our community and it is also going to experience rapid growth in the next few years as our population ages. They have already out grown the space in Amos Waites park twice and it will happen again – probably very soon. Would it not be better for the City to help them find a space that will meet current and future needs?
All we’ve been asking for is to have a public forum to discuss to options – it does not seem a lot to ask for such an important location in our community.
Does it now seem odd that a open letter to our councillor has not been responded to given community concerns???
Storefront Humber at 2445 Lake Shore Boulevard W. is an old house and not really practical for the seniors it serves. It would be much better to build a community centre with washrooms to serve the whole community.
Keiko Nakamura, X correction, Mary Hansen, Executive Director, Storefront Humber Inc could rent office space for $1 per year on the top floor of the new Community Centre