Police station relocation: what we know and what we’re trying to find out

TPS presentation slide, Oct. 10, 2017

Where is the best spot for a police station? Did you know Division 54 & 55 are amalgamating and looking for a new site. We first blogged about this last month.

One of the shortlisted sites is the TTC Barns at Coxwell and Danforth – a massive five acre site that, if put to the right use, has the potential to transform our neighbourhood. Can we unlock the potential of this site with a police station?

The selection process for the new station is happening very fast with a decision expected to be made next month.

Last week, DECA and other community groups, including the Danforth Mosaic BIA, formally requested a delay in the process, citing the need for more public information.

To be clear, this isn’t about NIMBYism. We aren’t saying no station here. We’re asking what is possible for that site, with or without a station. More than anything right now, we want more information and time.

What we know

Toronto Police Services (TPS) and the City of Toronto began the site selection community consultations in October, presenting the top three sites: the Danforth Coxwell TTC Barns, the East York Civic Centre and the current 55 Division at Dundas and Coxwell.

DECA’s Visioning Committee, DECA Board members and many neighbours attended the packed meetings. Although TPS had been planning to build a new police station since 2014, the public wasn’t invited into the site selection process until October 2017. TPS plans to present the selected site to the City’s Executive Committee on November 29 and then go to City Council on December 6th (to seek further study of the selected site).

[You can read more about the site selection process in this Beach Metro article by Stephen Wickens (who has been a driving force behind DECA’s Visioning Committee for years) – the article also sheds light on another possible site!

What we’ve asked

Because of the impact a new police station could have on our community, DECA and others have requested a further public meeting to get answers to these questions:

Questions in regards to Coxwell TTC Barns site:

  1. We are concerned about the security design criteria and setbacks required by TPS, even if some recent stations include some aesthetically pleasing design. Specifically how might the police station fit onto the site? Is TPS willing to compromise on security criteria in order to truly integrate with and contribute to a vibrant mixed-use hub? Can the TPS facility fit within close proximity as part of an urban-style cluster of mid-rise, mixed use buildings?
  2. With neighbourhood concerns about traffic and noise, will serious traffic studies be done prior to final site alternatives be conducted for the entire TTC property? Would such a fit-test endeavour to include all potential uses: TPS, the TTC’s existing and potential uses (TTC needs space for various front and back-office functions and is considering a museum)? What other city office-space needs might be served? Would new building offer opportunities for an expanded or relocated library, public open space, public indoor space, Tobias House upgrades, heritage structure programming.
  3. Will the concept of Complete Streets with retail and even residential components be considered in the site planning process?
  4. If a police division is located on the Coxwell TTC site, how might it prevent/inhibit other community/cultural uses? (Such as those listed as things the community needs below). We request clarification on what percentage of the Coxwell TTC site the TPS would occupy, if this site is chosen. How much space would be available for other uses?
  5. How is the heritage status to be preserved if this site if chosen?
  6. How will the parking be accommodated? Will the community have any assurance that the parking will be underground? The current walled-off surface parking lot is seriously street-deadening.
  7. There has been a lack of community engagement and involvement in the site selection, followed by a rushed process taking place under a sudden deadline. To what extent will the community be involved in the design of the station and the selection of the community and cultural uses that could be attracted to occupy other parts of the site?
  8. The process to date has included little or no information on the impact that a police station on this site might have on rest of land and its immediate surroundings. This includes concerns over the Heritage Status as well as the loss of potential uses for this site (cultural, community, retail etc.) which may not be deemed a good fit to cohabit with a police station. Does the TPS, city real estate and city planning have partners in mind for the site and, if yes, who are they?

Community needs in regards to Coxwell TTC Barns site:

  1. The two police divisions extend from the Don River to Victoria Park yet only two public consultations were held at EYCC and further south, nearer the Dundas police station, perhaps because there are no large meeting spaces centrally located on the subway, near Danforth. Such a space would be essential to a mixed-use hub at the Danforth, as would outdoor public space + community recreation facilities and cultural uses. The area also needs functions that bring people to the area and its shops and restaurants from other parts of the city each day. It could be office space for all three levels of government or an educational institution (a police college?). Daycare, healthcare and a library that are all part of mixed-use buildings present real opportunity. Some residential, including apartments geared to seniors, might be a great part of the mix.
  1. The community and BIA have worked hard over the past five years to improve our commercial strip along Danforth East and create a vibrant street. This section of Danforth is lacking a pedestrian-friendly and welcoming retail strip, while the street frontages of the TTC site create blocks that are too long and impenetrable. Plans to redevelop the Coxwell TTC Barns should focus on economic development and the creation of pedestrian-friendly blocks. [Note: See work of Ryerson Architecture students “Danforth East Streetcar Yards” and Top Ten Ideas for the Danforth, by Paul Bedford’s Students presented at Imagine the Danforth, hosted by DECA in 2015.]
  1. We believe it’s important to work with the mid-rise guidelines created by city planning and approved by city council to develop this nearly five-acre site. They are essential elements of the ongoing Danforth Avenue Planning Study and cannot be ignored for any site, let alone such a key and potentially catalytic site. This has to be a primary focus, no matter what the TPS security concerns.

What can you do?

We have more influence the more members we have. If you haven’t joined DECA as a member, join now for $10/household annually: https://deca.to/membership/

The Toronto Police Service material provided these contacts for this process:

Toronto Police Service, Enrico Pera, Manager, Facilities Management, 416-808-7951, enrico.pera@torontopolice.on.ca

Real Estate Services, Nick Simos, Manager Development & Portfolio Planning, 416-392-7223, nick.simos@toronto.ca

City Planning, Paul Mulé, Senior Planner Community Planning, 416-392-1306, paul.mule@toronto.ca

You may also contact your City Councillor to ask your own questions and seek more information.

We will keep you posted as we learn more!

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