CCKT Deputation to King Council re: the proposed commercial building at Keele St. and King Rd

Feb 14, 2023

January 30, 2023.

To:  Mayor Steve Pellegrini and Members of King Township Council

Re:  Report Number  GMS-PL-2023-05, and Zoning By-law Amendment Application, File No. Z-2022-11, 12991 Keele St. & 2239 King Road, King City

First I’d like to thank Paul Kulyk for sharing the development application file for the proposed commercial building at Keele St. and King Rd.  CCKT has especially appreciated viewing the Architectural Drawings Package and the Visual Impact Assessment

Today CCKT represents approximately 150 member households and continues to take active interest in a number of Township initiatives and projects.  In addition to advocating for the long term protection and conservation of the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Greenbelt, CCKT also supports the preservation of important cultural heritage structures in King Township and planning for vibrant, healthy, sustainable communities in our Settlement Areas.

CCKT Lens in Viewing the Project

In reviewing and considering the proposed commercial development we kept in mind several priorities and aspects of the project:

–– Does this project contribute to a sense of place (unique to King City)?

–– How well does the project integrate into the character and elements of the King City Core Area?

–– Have important heritage elements been preserved?

–– Are the proposed uses appropriate?

–– Have “green building standards” been effectively incorporated into the building design and structure and contribute to King achieving it’s Climate Action goals?

–– Have parking and safe access to the building been well-addressed?

–– Is there a landscape plan which incorporates resilient and attractive native plants, shrubs and small trees?

Introduction

The location of this proposed commercial building complex is on a very prominent lot in the Core Area of King City.  The lot on the southeast corner of Keele Street and King Road provides a key gateway to the Core Area when travelling east on King Road from Burns Blvd and Highway 400 or travelling south on Keele Street from Heritage Park and Dennison.  It is important that this project provides an attractive and interesting gateway which gives a unique sense of place which reflects the historic roots of King City.

In considering various aspects of the proposed building CCKT views this project as having a number of very positive features, as well as some aspects which could be adjusted to improve the project further.

Heritage

CCKT is very encouraged with the plans for McDonald House which has a heritage designation.  We understand that this heritage house will have the original exterior brick restored, and there will be complete restoration of the interior.  We believe it is excellent planning to see how McDonald House has been set apart from the rest of the commercial building other than a connection on the east side.  The plan to construct a matching dormer window facing King Road appears to be a positive addition.

Sense of Place and Integration into the Core Area

Several aspects of the proposed building design appear to reflect other buildings and houses in the Core Area, and help the building to integrate reasonably well into King City.  The use of red/orange (terracotta-coloured) brick for the two-storey “heritage-style” building element facing Keele Street and the new building section facing King Road compliments the brick of Hogan’s Inn and many other buildings on Keele Street and King Road including the original brick of McDonald House.  Cream coloured quoins and bricks around the windows also compliments King City’s architectural heritage. 

The sloped gable roof on the two-storey building element facing Keele reflects the roof on Hogan’s Inn.  However, we recommend that the five dormer windows be removed as:  1. There are very few dormer windows with this appearance on any of the heritage houses in King City, and  2.  The dormer windows have no practical function and in essence are “fake” – simply a costly added feature.

It is very positive that the stone retaining walls are being maintained and this adds to the streetscape especially on Keele Street.

Five Storey Building Section

The height and large mass of this part of the building is evident.  We appreciate that this tall section is set back from the roads behind the two-storey building element and McDonald House, as this helps reduce the impact especially along Keele Street.  However, in our view the overall height of 27 metres is excessive and should be reduced to integrate better with surrounding heritage buildings.  We recommend that this building section be reduced to four storeys.  An alternative:  Could the height of each storey be reduced from 4.25 metres?

The tiering of several parts of the overall building is positive and adds to the visual interest.  

The beige “stucco” material on the tall building section appears to compliment the red/orange brick proposed on the building sections along Keele Street and King Road.

The mansard roof for the mechanical equipment with a light grey colour is a preferred design for the roof.

Uses for the Building

CCKT supports the goal of adding additional commercial and retail space to the Core Area.  However, we wondered if a market study has been completed to confirm the long-term need for this commercial space.  We also wondered if residential units had been considered for one of the levels in the building.

Green Building Standards

CCKT would appreciate learning more about what is proposed in the design and materials to make this a “Net Zero” building as this is an important goal for all buildings in Canada by 2050.  What are the goals for insulation and window glazing to make this building highly energy efficient?

We strongly recommend that heating and cooling for this building be provided through the new Air Source Heat Pumps which work efficiently in southern Ontario winters.  There would be long term energy saving costs.  A high goal in our view is to completely avoid the use of natural gas and eliminate all fossil fuel emissions in this project.

We note the plan to have a rooftop garden over one section of the building.  Have solar panels been considered for the rooftop of the high section of the building?  The sloping mansard roof would lend itself well to solar panels.

Parking and Pedestrian Access

CCKT notes that based on current criteria that 113 parking spaces are required for this proposal, and that 7 parking spaces are provided with “Cash-in-lieu” being given for the additional 106 spaces.  A very important question for the Township:  How will parking be addressed for this proposed commercial building and for the entire core area over the long term?  There is already considerable congestion and limitations to parking in the core area.  Does King have a clear long term municipal parking plan for the Core Area of King City?

There appears to be excellent thought given to the design and entrances to provide for safe and easy pedestrian access.

Landscaping and the Protection of Mature Trees in the Core Area

Is there a landscape plan featuring resilient and attractive native plants, shrubs and possibly small trees?  The plants and trees contribute to a healthy and attractive environment in this built up part of King City, as well as complimenting the historic character of the core area. 

Landscaping and mature trees contribute greatly in reducing the visual impact of buildings.  CCKT recommends that healthy, mature trees on adjoining lots to the east of the building site are retained in any future development, as they play a significant role in defining the character of the central core area of King City, and they greatly reduce and buffer the impact of the tall section of the new building.

In the Visual Impact Assessment on Page 12 the “View 6 Proposed” illustrates the important role tall mature trees play in defining character of the core area of King City and reducing the visual impact of the proposed new building.

Conclusion

CCKT views this proposed building project as a positive opportunity to restore and feature an important heritage house and to enhance the Core Area while providing additional services and employment opportunities.

Sincerely, J. Bruce Craig, on behalf of Concerned Citizens of King Township

CCKT Vision Statement

Our vision is a vibrant King Township that protects and values its natural heritage with an environmentally responsible vision for growth that promotes a healthy community now and for generations to come.