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Take Action!

  • Sign the petition to Skale Developments, a boutique building company, to hold them accountable for their repeated promises to develop affordable units and provide transparency around environmental assessments. Make sure they don't get away with making false promises in order to gain approval for this development at the Ontario Land Tribunal and at City Council.

  • Join Justice for Queen and Close on Zoom and/or in person to organize events and actions.

What is Justice for Queen and Close?

Justice for Queen and Close is a community coalition formed to make sure Skale Developments honours its promises to Parkdale residents and the City of Toronto to build healthy, safe, and affordable housing in its proposed mixed-use development at 1375 Queen Street West in Toronto (located at the corner of Queen Street West and Close Avenue in South Parkdale).

Skale must be held accountable for its obligations to meet basic environmental reporting requirements -- due to the high potential of ground contamination on this site from its previous use as a gas station -- and its five distinct promises to include affordable housing units at this site.

The City has confirmed that Skale has not upheld any of these commitments.

The Justice for Queen and Close coalition says NO to this development until Skale follows through on their promises to provide affordable housing, with a minimum of 15 affordable units (30% of their units), and cleans up any contamination left behind from the gas station that previously occupied this site.

We call on Skale Developments to include local decent work provisions on this site and other community benefits. 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 neighbourhood as set out in the Parkdale Community Benefits Framework.

Land Acknowledgement

Justice for Queen and Close Coalition members gather and organize on the traditional territories of the Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and most recently the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

We gather at this site remembering the devastating impacts of the white settler colonialism that enabled Imperial Oil to 'purchase' this land in 1920 for one dollar ($1) and for Skale Developments to acquire this land in 2016. We remember the devastating impacts of environmental racism at brownfield redevelopment sites, where developers capitalize off of a lack of remediation and, in this case, a big oil company leverages their long-term contamination on the site to make a huge profit.

We gather remembering those who have been forcibly enslaved and brought here against their will through the North Atlantic Slave Trade. We gather to make more visible the injustices of private property and the for-profit development sector that depends on social, economic, and political violence against Black, Indigenous, people of colour, women, non-binary, two spirited and low-income communities to centralize wealth to the most privileged and well-off.

We gather in deep gratitude for this opportunity to show up in meaningful ways to build a shared dignified community in which we can each fight against these dehumanization processes, practices, and systems in our own ways as a collective.

The Site: 1375 Queen Street West

1375 Queen Street West is a vacant parcel of land in the Toronto neighbourhood of South Parkdale, located at the intersection of Queen Street West and Close Avenue. The lot is 3,994 square feet (669 square meters), with approximately 15 meters of frontage that runs along Queen Street West. The site was previously a gas station owned by Imperial Oil since 1920. When Imperial disinvested from the site in 2003, a fence was erected and it has been empty ever since. It is a place of deep resonance for Parkdalians because of its use as an informal market, where residents hang goods of all kinds along the fence to sell to folks walking by, supplementing their own income while providing essential goods at affordable prices and participating in green strategies to re-use gently or pre-used goods saving them from the dump.

This proposed development is at the corner of Queen and Close next to Parkdale’s beloved Full Worth, a staple in the community selling culturally relevant products for more than 30 years. You may know it as the empty lot in front of Loga's Corner momo restaurant. It is just west of the future Parkdale Hub, which will be the co-location of a range of critical community services and community benefits, a result of hard-fought community battles to embed economic, climate, and social impacts in new developments. It sits just north of three local schools, and a church. You may also know it as the brownfield, a site with historical industrial/chemical use leading to potential ground contamination, sitting vacant for more than 20 years on Queen Street.

Image of informal economy happening at 1375 Queen Street West in 2017. Stop Skale Developments!

Aug 2017: Informal economy happening at the vacant site (source: Google Maps)

Image of map of 1375 Queen Street West in Parkdale. Stop Skale Developments!

1375 Queen Street West in Parkdale. Explore the map and the neighbourhood (source: Co-Design Parkdale)

The Developer: Skale Developments

Skale Developments is a boutique building company targeting the luxurious, multi-million dollar housing market that has arisen in Toronto’s mixed income neighbourhoods. Armaan Salek is the President of Skale Developments and the Development Manager is Michael Halpern. For the proposed development of 1375 Queen Street West, Skale has been utilizing the established influence of land use professionals at the planning firm MacNaughton Hermsen Britton Clarkson Planning (MHBC Planning) and the legal firm Goodman’s LLP.

Armaan Salek states in a 2013 interviewI wanted to build higher-end, unique products so we started building custom homes, including executive townhomes and single-family units. And now we’ve progressed to building boutique condos”.

Parkdalians may be familiar with the ongoing construction of Skale’s high-end project 1181 Queen Street West, located at Queen Street West and Sudbury Street across from the Gladstone Hotel. This fifteen-storey development includes 118 units ranging from 610 square feet to 1,719 square feet, priced at $559,900 to over $1.4 million dollars.

Skale has a number of other residential developments throughout the city, including 537 Eglinton East and 2815 Kingston Road. The Kingston Road development in Scarborough includes units ranging from 475 square feet to approximately 1,500 square feet, with penthouses priced at over $1 million dollars.

Nov 2022: 1181 Queen Street West under construction

Don’t “Skale” Back on Affordable Housing

Skale Developments, DON'T “SKALE” BACK on Affordable Housing in Parkdale: Skale Developments' 5 broken promises to embed affordable housing in their new fifty-unit mixed-use building at 1375 Queen Street West.

Skale first made a promise for affordable housing at the in-person pre-application meeting in February 2020. They said they would “provide 20% affordable rental units".

Skale Developments submitted an application to redevelop the site in March 2020 that called for an eight-storey mixed use building comprised of 46 rental dwelling units. The planning rationale stated “currently, the owner is contemplating the provision of 20% of the proposed rental units as “affordable” units, however, this is still to be confirmed as the application moves forward.” This was the second time Skale made a promise for affordable housing.

During their mandatory community consultation in September 2020, Skale stated they would “provide a variety of rental housing units” and “provide 20% affordable rental units through the City’s “Open Door Affordable Housing Program.” They also claimed they would “provide a variety of unit types including larger family units.” This was the third time Skale made a promise for affordable housing.

As a result of the City not making a decision on the development application within the legislated 90-day timeframe, on November 19, 2020 Skale appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). Rather than go through a tribunal process, over the course of fall-winter 2021-2022, Skale Developments and the City reached a settlement agreement. During this process, Skale's legal and land use planning representatives indicated there would be affordable housing in the development two more times. These statements from land use professionals indicating there would be affordable housing onsite influenced the outcome of the zoning bylaw amendment and the ability for Skale to develop 1375 Queen Street West.

In a without prejudice settlement offer to the City, Goodman's LLP partner David Bronskill stated that "our client is prepared to work with the City of Toronto to apply to, or otherwise access, the City’s Open Door Affordable Housing Program to determine if there are opportunities for affordable housing units as part of the development”. This was the fourth time Skale made a promise for affordable housing.

MacNaughton Hermsen Britton Clarkson Planning (MHBC Planning) partner David McKay also made statements to the OLT that Skale "will work with the City to determine if there are opportunities for affordable housing units as part of the proposed development" and that "the proposed development would fit in with the character of the area and provide rental housing and commercial services that will service the local community". This was the fifth time Skale made a promise for affordable housing.

City Council approved Agenda Item TE29.6 on December 15, 2021 without amendments and without debate. This means that Skale Developments is building their development which is 50 units.

Within this process, they have managed to evade any legal commitment to building affordable housing.

Don’t “Skale” Back on Safe and Healthy Housing

Skale Developments, DON'T “SKALE” BACK on Safe and Healthy Housing in Parkdale: Skale Developments fail to submit required environmental reports and have provided ZERO information about how they will clean up any contamination left behind by the previous gas station.

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 $1.9 million dollars in 2020.

Not everyone knows, however, that in 2016 Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT) attempted to purchase this lot in order to bring it into community ownership and provide a range of affordable housing and other community benefits. 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. Opportunities for community ownership and governance were lost when PNLT could not find political or financial support to pursue the opportunity. It is appalling to see that Imperial Oil cited environmental responsibility as a reason not to sell to the Land Trust when Skale Developers have failed to publicly address possible contamination nor demonstrated any concern for community wellbeing in light of the potential contamination and health risks.

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. The Justice for Queen and Close community coalition demands Skale Developments uphold clear environmental monitoring and reporting mechanisms. The deceptive and bad faith manner in which Skale Developments has bamboozled the Parkdale community through false promises of affordable housing to gain a development approval makes their silence and omissions concerning the potential contamination on this site particularly worrisome.

Skale Developments has failed to submit the required environmental reports. The Contamination Site Assessment report required by the City is not listed in the application materials submitted on the development application portal, nor have we found a reference to it in the environmental reports submitted.

Skale Developments has failed to make environmental assessment reports publicly available. While the environmental assessment report was named in the Hydrogeological and Geotechnical report, the assessment itself is not publically available.

Skale Developments is creating a cloak of confusion around any potential contamination on this site. Despite this site being a well-known gas station for many decades, Skale Developments' application package does not include information about potential contamination and remediation ordered or recommended. Adding insult to injury, Skale has only opted into the mandatory tier 1 requirement, out of a possible 4 tier system of the Toronto Green Standards checklist. We implore Skale Developments to temper their greed, pursue full environmental remediation, and build robust transparency and accountable health and safety measures.

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.

From the Archives

1920: Premier Gasoline service station on the corner of Queen and Close (source: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 1912)

Feb 2003: 7-Eleven gas station in operation (source: Kevin Steele)

April 2003: Gas station is closed (source: Kevin Steele)

Dec 2006: 3 years since closure (source: Kevin Steele)

2014: The site is vacant a decade later (source: Kevin Steele)

Feb 2020: On Queen St looking south (source: AlbertC)

Feb 2020: On Close Ave looking north-east (source: AlbertC)

Sept 2022: On Close Ave looking north-east (source: J4Q&C)