TEYCPP: Please provide a brief paragraph on the Mirvish Village Task Group’s history
, mandate, and current status.
MVTG: The Mirvish Village Task Group (MVTG) was formed as a task group of the Palmerston Area Residents’ Association to represent the interests of residents with respect to the Mirvish Village development. The MVTG has representatives from the four RAs that meet at the four corners of Bloor and Bathurst: the Palmerston Area Residents’ Association (PARA), the Harbord Village Residents’ Association (HVRA), the Annex Residents’ Association (ARA), and the Seaton Village Residents’ Association (SVRA). This has been a very active task group over the past three years, providing a well informed critique of the development application and its two revisions. For more information on our activities please visit our web site: http://www.mirvishvillagetg.org
TEYCPP: What do you love about Mirvish Village? What about it, in your opinion, is worth protecting?
MVTG: Markham Street, with its old homes converted to commercial and artistic use, is a unique area in Toronto. With the assistance of Heritage staff, we came to appreciate the value of two blocks of buildings on Bathurst. In total there were 27 buildings on the site listed as having heritage value, 24 of which were designated on March 23, 2017.
TEYCPP: What do you feel the MVTG’s greatest achievements have been?
MVTG: MVTG has provided a detailed and informed critique of the development applications through regular meetings with City Planning staff and the two councillors. We have made submissions on built form, transportation, heritage preservation, park allocation, urban design, building use, and community benefits such as affordable housing, day care and community space. All of these interventions have helped to inform the responses of City Planning and the two councillors to the developer.
TEYCPP: In what ways do you think we, as individuals, as a community, and as a city, can truly make a difference in heritage conservation?
MVTG: In general we think that an informed group representing residents is the most effective strategy for heritage conservation. Isolated individuals may have valuable opinions, but without organizational connection they will probably lack the capacity to make a significant difference. We also recommend working closely with Heritage Preservation city staff and the local councilor.
TEYCPP: What are some of the greatest frustrations of the task force?
MVTG: There must be a willingness to compromise in any negotiations. Residents who are not part of negotiations may not appreciate the small victories won on their behalf. On the other side, developers may be unwilling to give much of value. Developers have vast resources at their disposal for public relations. For this reason, MVTG adopted the strategy of marshalling expert opinion on a number of fronts for our critique, thinking that we could best represent the concerns of our residents with clear and compelling information.
TEYCPP: What can other neighbourhood associations learn from your experience?
MVTG: See previous answer.
TEYCPP: What does the future hold for the MVTG?
MVTG: Assuming the application is approved at City Council, MVTG will continue to function throughout the demolition and construction of 3–4 years as an advisory group representing the local community. We have many outstanding issues: a transportation plan, construction plan, park and urban design, and community benefits, including day care, affordable housing, and community space.
TEYCPP: Thanks very much for speaking with us and sharing your insights into how residents’ groups can effectively deal with large developers.
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