Justice for Queen and Close

Skale Developments

Dear Skale Developments: don’t “skale” back on safe and affordable housing in Parkdale!

To: Skale Developments
From: [Your Name]

Dear Skale Developments: don’t “skale” back on safe and affordable housing in Parkdale!

Parkdale community members have formed the Justice for Queen and Close Community Coalition (J4Q&C) to hold Skale Developments, a boutique development company, accountable to their repeated promises to create affordable housing in their new residential Parkdale development, and to make sure they remediate the land to uphold their responsibility to create safe and healthy housing for future tenants.

Please sign your name at the end of this petition to make sure Skale DOES NOT “SKALE” back on SAFE and AFFORDABLE housing in the NEW Parkdale residential building, 1375 Queen Street West, at the corner of Queen and Close.

Justice for Queen and Close!

Skale Developments obtained approval for a new 7-story, 50-unit residential building with 264 m2 of commercial space as a result of an Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) appeal they submitted. This development, 1375 Queen Street West, is at the corner of Queen and Close in front of Loga’s Corner and next to Parkdale’s beloved Fullworth, a staple in the community serving affordable and culturally relevant products for more than 30 years. It is also just west of the future Community Hub. It sits north of three local schools, and a church. You may also know it as the former gas station,, a Brownfields site with historical industrial and chemical use leading to potential ground contamination that has been sitting vacant for more than 20 years.

Skale Developments, don’t “skale” back on your Affordable Housing promises!

Skale Developments made five (5) distinct promises throughout the redevelopment application process to include affordable housing provisions within the proposed new residential building at 1375 Queen St west. To be more precise, they made promises for affordable housing:

1) at the pre-application meeting (Feb. 2020);
2) in the planning rationale (March 2020);
3) at the community consultation (Sept. 2020);
4) in their Ontario Land Tribunal settlement offer, doubling down on promises to provide affordable housing by indicating Skale’s preparedness to “work with the City of Toronto to apply to, or otherwise access, the City’s Open Door Affordable Housing Program”, (October 2021); and finally
5) once again at the OLT hearing when Skale’s representatives argued that Skales’ proposed affordable housing component would "fit in with the character of the area and provide rental housing and commercial services that will serve the local community".

All five promises were made within the City of Toronto’s and the Province's (OLT) development application processes. All five promises were cleverly worded to convince the community of their good intentions, while not actually being legally binding. The lack of equity, transparency, and accountability in government approval processes for developers mean that communities have been taking matters into their own hands by starting community coalitions like ours, J4Q&C.

Skale Developments appealed to the OLT based on the Province’s Bill #108 that introduced shortened development approval timelines. Appeals to the OLT, for all intents and purposes, discourage meaningful and inclusive community participation in what should essentially be a public review, ultimately speeding up the approval process. The OLT is less concerned with local needs and equitable development, and more concerned with a development's compliance with general regulations and ‘accelerating’ decisions by cutting any ‘red tape’ to development. Skale’s settlement offer was accepted on December 17, 2021 sadly without questions or debates from City Councilors.

Confirming our community suspicions of the developer's bypassing behaviour and non-legally binding language, Skale Developments failed to apply for affordable housing units at the February 2022 deadline for the City's Open Door Affordable Housing program. In communication with the planner on this development file, the coalition was informed that Skale Developments is claiming that they were ignorant of publicly announced changes to the program. Therefore, Skale Developments state that they will NOT be including ANY affordable housing in this development.

Skale Developments, don’t “skale” back on safe and healthy housing in Parkdale!

Skale Developments is obligated to submit and make publicly available environmental assessments and other related environmental reports that outline all environmental remediations that have been ordered and/or recommended. Environmental remediation refers to the removal of pollution or contaminants from soil, groundwater, sediment, surface water, and other forms of environmental media. Remedial action is usually subject to a range of regulatory requirements, and may also be based on assessments of human health and ecological risks where no legislative standards exist, or where standards are advisory.

Skale Developments has failed to make publicly available the required environmental reports. Moreover, they have only opted into the mandatory tier 1 out of a possible 4 tier Toronto Green Standards checklist. The bad faith manner in which Skale Developments has attempted to deceive the Parkdale community through false promises of affordable housing makes their silence and omission concerning the potential contamination on this site particularly worrisome.

Many long-time community members remember the old gas station and 7-Eleven that were previously on this site before it was left vacant for more than two decades. Many community members understand the ways low-income working-class racialized neighborhoods become sites of institutional disinvestment and places of systemic environmental racism, where toxic waste is left to accumulate and threaten the health of the community for the sake of capturing increasing profits. Case in point, Imperial Oil ‘purchased this site’ in Nov 1920 for $1 and sold it for $ 1 900 000 in 2020.

Not everyone knows, however, that in 2016, Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT) attempted to purchase this lot to bring it into community ownership and provide a range of affordable housing and other community benefits in perpetuity. Imperial Oil, the lot owners, would only sell to parties who had the fiscal capacity to uphold legal responsibility for all past, present, and future contamination that may exist on the site. In short, suggesting a high likelihood of future environmental emergencies. This opportunity for community ownership and governance was lost when PNLT could not find political nor financial support to pursue the purchase of this lot. It is appalling to see Imperial Oil citing environmental responsibility as a reason not to sell to the Land Trust, an organization dedicated to community wellbeing, when Skale Developments has failed to address possible contamination and has not demonstrated any concern for community wellbeing in light of the potential contamination and health risks.

We implore Skale Developments to temper their greed and pursue full environmental remediation and build robust transparency and accountable health and safety measures. The Justice for Queen and Close community coalition see safe and affordable housing as interconnected. We say NO to any development that prioritizes ballooning profits over safe, affordable, and dignified housing.

Please sign this petition to,

STOP Skale Developments from “skaling” back on Safe and Affordable housing in Parkdale!

Make sure Skale Developments doesn't get away with co-opting community benefits language for their own nefarious purpose!
Join the fight to STOP the financialization of housing and the de-regulation of the development sector from the ground up!

I, (name), add my name to the following Justice for Queen and Close Community Coalition demands and calls to action:

We demand Skale Developments follow through on their repeated promises to create affordable housing and build a minimum of 15 units (30%) of affordable housing at their new rental housing development at 1375 Queen Street West near Close Avenue.

We demand Skale Developments be transparent about any existing contamination left behind by the previous gas station and take every environmental remediation to safeguard the health and well-being of the community and future tenants.

We call on Skale Developments to also incorporate broader community benefits such as local decent work provisions on this site.

We call on the City of Toronto to support the efforts of the Parkdale community to achieve affordable housing and other community benefits goals on this site and across the neighborhood as set out in the Parkdale Community Benefits Framework.

To learn more about the site and Justice for Queen and Close’s demands, please visit: http://www.justiceforqueenandclose.com