With the beginning of a new year comes new year’s resolutions, and Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow will be tabling his at Toronto and East York Community Council this January. After council resumes following the winter break, Matlow will be submitting a design study for Forest Hill Village, which could potentially impose restrictions on height and building materials used in the area. Matlow hopes the study will help preserve the neighborhood’s small-town charm.
“Forest Hill Village is one of the few enclaves in Toronto that still has that unique, village-like character,” he said, “and over the past few years some of the newer buildings have been detracting from that.
The most egregious detractor, Matlow says, is the neighborhood’s new LCBO, a relatively large building with a starkly modern design that “sticks out like a sore thumb.” Although that building, and the entire east side of Forest Hill Village, is not actually in Ward 22, Matlow said that, because it faces his ward, locals have been coming to him with their concerns.
“No one has a problem with new businesses coming into the area,” he said, “but their design should be guided by the character of the village.”
The design study will be submitted to council in the new year, which will vote on requesting a study from City of Toronto, City Planning.
In 2012, Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon tabled a similar study for the Beaches community, which she deemed necessary in order to balance the city’s intensification plan with that neighbourhood’s existing character.
Matlow says the Beaches study was a great success. Although the councillor can’t say what the new design guidelines for Forest Hill Village might be, he hopes that they will be “quaint,” returning to the red-brick and awning styles that used to be predominant in the area.
“What the exact design and materials should be will be decided in consultation with local residents,” he said, “but some restrictions should be put in place to help the village maintain its unique, small-town feel.”