IMO, the Gladstone CDP plans hit a number of high notes:
- public pathway along the west side of the OTrain cut
- ped-cycling link at Laurel-Oak Street
- new park space on the PWGSC lands just southwest of Plouffe Park
- a fine new plaza above the Gladstone OTrain Station, well framed with higher buildings that are not on the traditional Preston main street
- protection for the low rise dead ends in the BLISS group, and less-likely-to-last protection for Louisa Street
- the first creation/expansion of a high-density low-rise zone seriously put forward in a CDP (in Option 2, west of BLISS)
- development, hopefully just six floors, on the neglected OCH property immediately north of Gladstone, currently used for car storage
The Gladstone CDP plans hit a number of low notes:
- too many too-high buildings along too much of Preston, aiming to replicate the Ashcroft Canyon effect, when there is plenty of space for higher buildings off the main street
- thwarting the new Official Plan by not reinforcing the maximum-six floors mixed use development along the traditional main street
- potentially hazardous new road and OTrain bridge, connecting Laurel-Oak
- fuzzy thinking at the PWGSC office building site, particularly how it interacts with Somerset Street and City Centre Avenue (the latter is well done for vehicles but poorly done for others)
- preserving Louisa Street for low rises, but completely “framing” it with higher rises. Looks like a lamb about to be slaughtered.
- in a neighbourhood with so little parkland and greenspace, it is bizarre to see the city take the widest spot on the OTrain pathway (behind Louisa Street and St Anthony Soccer Club) and propose to build a high rise on it
In some cases, the planners did what they were told:
- lots more housing units, plus office and commercial potential. We don’t know what quota they had to fufill.
- fill up those industrial lands with lots of tall buildings
- “repair” the grid, by making new connections
- steer redevelopment to existing large parcels
- sketch out a Adult High School redevelopment scheme, but they only did one version and it has obvious flaws
- avoid things like affordability, variety of housing form, new public amenities, etc.
- avoid calculating traffic flows or the impact of double tracking the OTrain corridor — the ostensible raison d’etre of the whole plan
- ignore the city signals building on Loretta/Gladstone
Some new challenges show up:
- how to prevent another Ashcroft Canyon effect on a traditional main street, whether by step-backs, alternating buildings, varying heights, restricting block-long slabs, or something …
- growing conflicts between remaining industrial users — and long-term new investors in industrial uses — with adjacent residential uses
- extending the Rochester bike tracks and enhanced sidewalk treatment from Gladstone to Carling
- edge mismatches between this CDP and the Preston-Carling CDP and the Bayview CDP
- the ill-defined status of the new pathways along the OTrain. They are not parks, and the city feels free to repurpose them for “staging zones” or other destructive uses. Nor are they service roads to high rises. Perhaps we need a new designation for linear parks.
- Similarly, pedestrianized streets like Preston, with wide treed sidewalks, and soon parts of Rochester, need special care and attention, such as watering, tree replacement, etc but no one is responsible for that. Similar problem on Somerset Viaduct with the irrigated trees in planters – they are neither parks nor roads.