Outgoing are burgers piled high with toppings, incoming are condo units stacked six storeys tall.
After 32 years slinging burgers at Queen St. E. and Kenilworth Ave., the homegrown Lick’s chain announced this weekend it will close its flagship Beach location Oct. 31.
While the controversial condo development taking its spot was approved earlier this year, it was not known when the neighbourhood institution would close up shop and make way for construction cranes — the unwelcome harbingers of change for some residents.
This corner lot in the heart of the Beach has been a key battleground in a war raging in neighbourhoods across the city. On one side, there’s an ever-growing need to increase urban density and curb sprawl. On the other, residents’ desire to maintain the character of their area.
Lick’s relocation (it will reopen in a yet-to-be-announced Beach spot this spring) was a decisive defeat for the latter, some feel. Despite feverish opposition from some residents, the building was unanimously approved by the area’s community council in May.
But upset residents have not given up.
“This is not NIMBYism. If it’s in our backyard, we want to get it right,” said Suzanne Giblon, a member of Save Queen Street, a group that has launched an aggressive anti-condo campaign. Its signs — “Stop Oversize Condos” — can be seen on numerous lawns in the area.
The group is hosting a public meeting Tuesday night to discuss concerns with a new set of urban design guidelines, a “Beach bible” that will tell developers what they can and cannot build on Queen St. E. from Coxwell Ave. to Neville Park Ave.
The preliminary rules — up for community council approval next month — were drafted by the city’s planning department after recent meetings with residents and stakeholders. They address everything from preserving designated heritage buildings to balcony size.
Among the most significant rules is the stipulation that, along parts of the stretch, no building can appear higher than four storeys to pedestrians, something that is accomplished by setting a fifth storey back from the street.
Additionally, no structure would be higher than six storeys, said area councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon.
“I think we’re going to be in a better spot than we were when I first arrived,” McMahon said.
Save Queen Street members, however, say the rules are not strict enough. Among other concerns, they’re afraid of loopholes that would allow for taller buildings.
“There needs to be more consultation with the public,” said Giblon.
James Parakh, the urban design program manager for Toronto and East York, said his planning department must meet objectives outlined in Toronto’s Official Plan, which involve increasing density along designated main avenues such as Queen St.
But he knows planners must also consider the wishes of residents to not lose the area they love.
“It really is that balance that we have been asked to come up with,” he said, “And that is what we think we’ve done.”
Jan Hykamp, president of the Greater Beach Neighbourhood Association, an umbrella organization of various Beach associations, said his group feels the guidelines address the community’s fundamental concerns, including the fear of skyscraping buildings.
“But what’s left unaddressed — and this remains a huge problem across the city — is that with development comes bigger demands on infrastructure,” he said, citing traffic, water problems and transportation.
These issues must be considered when the city eyes a new development, Hykamp said.
“The two really go hand in hand.”