Once upon a time, this parking lot was housing. We want it to be housing again.
On April 7, 2018, KMCLT invited the Kensington Market community—local residents, business owners, and interested individuals—together for an afternoon of discussion and dreaming related to the potential redevelopment of the ‘Green P’ Parking Lot on Bellevue Avenue (pictured above). The gathering was held at St. Stephen’s-in-the-Fields Anglican Church just up the street.
The Bellevue Parking Lot is owned and operated by the City of Toronto’s Parking Authority. It is situated in the centre of the Kensington Market neighbourhood, on the east side of Bellevue Avenue south of Nassau Street.
Throughout the afternoon, we explored possibilities for the site in large and small groups, exploring themes and issues that came out of the initial discussion. In the end, three broad principles emerged, which should inform the framework for any redevelopment of the site. In addition, the gathering articulated several issues and ongoing concerns that need to be addressed.
Community Principles for Redeveloping the Bellevue Parking Lot
- Providing affordable housing is the highest priority.
- The loss of affordable housing, and thereby our most precarious neighbours and community relationships is a critical issue in Kensington Market.
- This has only accelerated through the disproportionate development of luxury residential units and the proliferation of ghost hotels.
- Housing units on this site should be structured to be perpetually affordable, through democratic and community-controlled mechanisms such as a CLT.
- It should offer a spectrum of housing tenure, from private ownership to rentals and cooperatives.
- It should accommodate a mix of low and moderate-income households in order to reflect and rebalance the traditional diversity of working-class households in Kensington Market.
- Within this diversity, priority shall be given to Indigenous people.
- The density of the building should reflect the surrounding neighbourhood.
- Any redevelopment should be a mixed-use building.
- Kensington Market’s uniqueness should be reflected, with a traditional mix of housing, small businesses, and community life in close quarters.
- Some specific use suggestions in addition to affordable housing included: business incubators; art gallery and studio space; retail space; live/work space and a community gathering space.
- Any redevelopment should facilitate communal uses and community connection
- Public and community spaces should incorporate and honour the Indigenous history and current Indigenous community in Kensington Market.
- The site is currently a residential-commercial area connector by acting as a shortcut to Augusta from Bellevue, this connection must be maintained.
- Kensington Market’s vibrant community life should be supported by providing space for activities such as community gardens and kitchens, and or meeting spaces for local organizations.
Since we began advocating for the Bellevue parking lot to be redeveloped for community needs, we have had strong support from our city councillors over the years: Joe Cressy and Mike Layton have long been supportive of this vision and participated in the creation and guarding of these community values over time. We have been waiting for the City to release an RFP (request for proposal), a competitive selection process to undertake such a project.
We hope to see this RFP release in 2022, and when the time comes, to see all of you, our members, and the Kensington Market community, out in full force to see this promise made to our community come to life. Please let us know any of your thoughts about the Bellevue parking lot, to ensure our discussions and advocacy towards the City are reflective of your voice. To join the Bellevue Parking Lot Advisory Committee of KMCLT or express your voice, please get in touch with us at email@example.com