The application for a Zoning By-law Amendment for a Costco Warehouse on Overlea Blvd. will be coming to City Council for consideration on November 3, with no recommendation from North York Community Council, where the vote on the issue was tied. The Committee for Thorncliffe Park – comprised of residents and business owners from across Ward 26 – has prepared the following document for city councillors.
What is the Issue?
An application for a ZBA to permit a 165,000 sq.ft. Costco Membership Warehouse Club in addition to an 18 pump gas station and 625 surface parking spaces at 42-46 Overlea Boulevard in Thorncliffe Park.
Staff report comes to City Council on Nov. 3rd without recommendation from North York Community Council.
Why should Council refuse the Costco Application?
Overlea Boulevard in Thorncliffe Park Neighbourhood is an inappropriate place for a Costco warehouse store and gas bar.
- Overlea is a connector between Don Mills Road and Millwood Road with T-junctions at each end. The east end is a narrow four-lane bridge.
- Overlea is one of the heaviest bus routes in the city with 7 routes using or crossing it.
- Costco would add 2,463,000 trips to Overlea — 34% over 2012. Costco studies under-estimate traffic by as much as 26%.
- Costco stores constantly increase the number of customers they serve – 9% increase over the last 18 months in Canada.
- Access to Costco from the east will be from an HOV lane. Costco week-day peak traffic hours conflict with afternoon HOV hours.
- Toronto’s Official Plan states this type of store must locate most parking underground or in a parking garage. This Costco is 100% surface parking.
- Peer reviewer John Winter Assoc. warns “major magnet” Costco will lead to retail contagion on Overlea. Tax revenue is low (0.7%)
- The viability of established local businesses — including those serving ethnic markets, community services, and regular gas stations throughout the area — is interfered with or threatened.
- The adjacent industrial Business Park opposes the application—studies fail to account for (1) the rail-line crossing on Wicksteed (2) Costco-generated traffic interference with essential truck movement inside the business park.
- Costco has implied preferential hiring for Thorncliffe residents – against the principles of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
- Most Costco positions pay between $12 and $15 an hour.
- Only half of Costco positions (125) will be full-time with benefits.
- How many local jobs will be lost because of Costco competition?
- Small businesses are the job creators. This disadvantaged community does not need a big-box store which is a job killer.
Health, Safety, Social and Environmental Impacts
- Costco does not fit in a stressed tower community of 30,000 residents.
- The average Costco member earns about $100,000 a year (per CNBC). Overwhelmingly, customers will drive in from outside neighbourhoods.
- Thorncliffe Park is highly pedestrian and has the largest proportion of children under 9 in the city. Children under 9 are at risk in traffic.
- Costco traffic will make air quality worse — notably lead and particles.
- Overlea is a planned boulevard and distinctive thoroughfare. It is Thorncliffe’s main street. Big-box invasion will destroy this civic asset.
Conclusion: Vulnerable Toronto neighbourhoods cannot sustain such poorly supported and damaging applications. Please vote to refuse this Costco application.
The Committee for Thorncliffe Park