Fighting Against Unreasonable Development and the Ontario Municipal Board

Over the last couple of years, one of the biggest challenges I have faced as the Councillor for Ward 16 Eglinton-Lawrence is the fight against over-development. With the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in place, most developers have pushed to get as much height and density as possible, knowing that the Board will likely rule in their favour and the outcome will be out of the City’s hands. The good news is that the Provincial appeals body, the OMB, has now changed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) and will give the City more say over how development takes place. The bad news is that most developers squeezed their applications for appeal in before the start of LPAT, meaning there are still hundreds of applications that will be heard under the old system of appeals.

Although we have had some local successes at the OMB in the last couple of years, most notably against the applicants for 491 Glencairn Ave and 41 Chatsworth Dr, I am still concerned about the remaining applications in Ward 16 that will fall under the old system of appeals.

Two current examples of applications that fall under the old system are 346-356 Eglinton Avenue West and 250 Lawrence Avenue West. Recently, in both of these cases, the developers were able to make last minute changes to drop the height and density to better their positions in front of the board.

At 346-356 Eglinton Ave W, the developer made changes to drop the height of their proposal to 9-storeys. This was done less than 2 weeks prior to the hearing which started on March 19, 2018. I asked our City legal team to try and adjourn the hearing so that we could present this revised plan to the community and seek updated direction from City Council but the OMB dismissed the request for adjournment. The City had limited time to plan its’ defense against this application. Our legal team did everything they could to put the best case forward in order to oppose the revised proposal. The OMB has reserved its judgment but I will update local residents with the results of the hearing as soon as they become available.

Similarly, the applicant for 250 Lawrence Ave W has also revised their plans with little time before the hearing begins on May 22, 2018. The revised application is for a 10-storey building, with the front facing wall of the building set at 8-storeys (approximately 23m) and with two storeys stepped back from Lawrence (10-storey height of approximately 30m). Despite the last minute revisions by the developer and the time constraints placed on the City by the Provincial appeal body, I was able to organize a consultation meeting with City Planning, City Legal, area residents and a representative from each of the surrounding residents associations, including; Lytton Park Residents’ Organization, the Old Orchard Grove Ratepayers’ Association and the South Armour Heights Residents’ Association.

The above groups all agreed on how they would like the City to proceed with the appeal. Based on this consensus, I instructed the City to continue to fight the proposal using the local context, specifically the height of 515 Rosewell Ave. which is at approximately 23m. We have also requested the City fight for increased parks space, to ensure the trunk sewer meets the City’s needs, and to remove further density on the east side to meet angular plane requirements. City Legal staff are now working to mount the best possible defense based on the community’s position and our motion to Council.

I want to assure you that I am doing everything in my power to defend against these types of applications for over development and encourage you to contact my office directly with any questions/concerns. I do look forward to the day when this convoluted and obscure process of appeals has fully transitioned through the LPAT, giving the City and its’ residents more power over how development takes place.