Quinpool’s Future

City Hall’s draft Centre Plan envisions Quinpool Road being developed as one of five high-density “centres” in the city, shown in red below.

Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017), 94

It proposes 15–20-storey buildings along Quinpool Road from Robie Street to Monastery Lane. The maximum heights are shown below in magenta. The Keep, at eight storeys and under construction, provides a handy reference for visualizing the impacts of 15–20-storey buildings on Quinpool Road and the neighbourhoods to the north and south. (To see what kind of street this would be like, visit Brunswick Street between Duke and Cogswell, with its 12–16-storey apartment blocks along both sides and its blank facades for pedestrians at street level.)

The adjacent properties (Quinpool Court Apartments and St. Vincent’s Nursing Home) and adjacent streets (Yale and Parker to the north, Pepperell to the south) would suffer the most direct physical, environmental, vehicular, and economic impacts. High-density development would destabilize the social fabric of these residential neighbourhoods, without adding anything positive to the area.

Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017), 107; with heights added by the Willow Tree Group

The orange areas in the map above show a maximum height of six storeys. To strengthen Quinpool Road as a local main street that blends into its neighbourhood surroundings, wouldn’t a continuous stretch of six-storey buildings on both sides of Quinpool make more sense?

Quinpool’s current assets include its many diverse, small, independent, local businesses, represented by the Quinpool Road Business Association. Many of them are owned and operated by new Canadians or young entrepreneurs. Before any future development proceeds, city hall should do a thorough study of the Quinpool district, including its social, economic, and physical dynamics. This would be a first step toward preserving what’s good about Quinpool and strengthening it as a local main street where we will want to work, shop, and stroll. Its street-level spaces would need to be affordable and sized appropriately for small businesses, rather than larger national franchises that can afford high rents. Above street level, more places for working could be a useful addition. Local residents and business owners may have other bright ideas.

For the past several years, developers have been assembling commercial and residential properties along Quinpool and Pepperell, and already are proposing large developments as far west as Oxford Street that are not permitted by the Land Use By-law or even by the draft Centre Plan. Unless city hall acts to represent the public good, the future of Quinpool will be defined solely by developers.