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Thread: West Queen West / A&D District

  1. #61
    Mike in TO Guest

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    ^ I would be surprised if they did... Gerretsen would be wise to stay out of the political fray on this one - that is the entire purpose of the OMB, to let good planning prevail and not local politics dictate decisions.

    Babel,

    Part of the plan includes 190 units of affordable housing. The OMB made a sensible planning decision in an area, that truthfully speaking, needs investment to revitalize it. I don't understand this 'what about the poor artists arguement'. The development will increase the stock or available housing in the area and include affordable housing. How many people actually currently live in the 48 Abell building? (that is substandard housing, far below current code standards and terrible energy inefficient).


  2. #62
    tplannerIII Guest

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    ^(that is substandard housing, far below current code standards and terrible energy inefficient).

    Not to mention technically illegal. The owner of 48 Abell strung the City along for years with odd plans for redevelopment - mainly because the city would not act to evict his illegal tenants while he had an active application in the work. Now that the area is actually redeveloping, he's finally hoping to cash in.

  3. #63
    spmarshall Guest

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    ^ I would be surprised if they did... Gerretsen would be wise to stay out of the political fray on this one - that is the entire purpose of the OMB, to let good planning prevail and not local politics dictate decisions.
    Somebody's an OMB fan.

    I'm just not convinced that this is good planning, or suitable to the area, never mind the artists. I'd rather have local democracy trump unaccountable planning regimes whom typically favour developers over everyone else that do not exist anywhere else, especially in this case, when it went agains local planning. (This differs from other conflicts, where the official or other plans encouraged a development local NIMBYs were against).

  4. #64
    Mike in TO Guest

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    All I'm saying is that Ministerial Zoning Orders are extremely rare and it is highly unlikely the province would get involved in a local political issue, especially given the fact that the city is very disorganized in terms of missing appeal dates, and not being involved at the front end of the process (rather then commenting on the original application it is my understanding the city just let the 180 day period to respond the the application go by, allowing the developers to appeal to the OMB on the basis of a non-decision by the city).

    Edit:

    I'd rather have local democracy trump unaccountable planning regimes whom typically favour developers over everyone else that do not exist anywhere else, especially in this case, when it went agains local planning.
    There was no decision made by the city, the appeal was based on a non-decision and the city presented a poor case to the OMB. Furthermore one of Active 18's own witnesses acknowledged the tallest tower would have no shadow impact north of Queen and there was a lack of consensus between residents and the city on the proposal.

    The OMB is accountable to the PPS, the growth plan and all other provincial plans as well as the city's O.P. - it is accountable to all the planning rules and regulations (rather than the local political climate that councillors are accountable to vs good planning). The OMB doesn't typically favour developers, you only hear cases in the media when local groups kick up a storm about applications being approved that were submitted by developers. Each of the last couple of years there have been 2,000+ files received by the OMB, and you hear about just a handful when some community groups disagree with the decision.

    The OMB rejected the city's planning evidence as it was mostly vague and inconsistent. From what I've heard from some of those in attendance at the hearing was that the city did a very poor job in presenting its case.

    You claim that the OMB went against local planning, yet there was no secondary plan in place for the site and its my understanding that the 180 day appeal period went by with the city not commenting on the application - the developers appealed to the OMB on a non-decision. The OMB didn't go against local planning, it made a decision where the city had made none.

    Ted Tyndorf recently stated at a CUI breakfast that it the city spent $100,000 four years ago developing a secondary plan the outcome would have been entirely different... so does the fault lay with the OMB on the decision? Or the fact that rather than setting a vision and planning for it, the city did nothing and only reacted to the proposal once the community started making noise.

    Also the OMB didn't just approve everything the developers wanted. A number of changes the city and community favoured were made, including height reductions and setbacks. Also there were a number of issues where the city and Active 18 disagreed - so it's not like there was consensus between those two groups at the hearings. For the 48 Abell structure, residents appeared at the hearing both in support and in opposition to the development proposal (once again a lack of community consensus). With a number of changes and compromises the board found the proposals to be appropriate and represent good planning.

    The city meanwhile seems to be incapable of getting its act together either before the OMB hearings, during the hearings or now with its appeals. The OMB made a decision where the city was unprepared to make one.

    I see the solution to this in the future being that the city makes more substantial investments into the planning department so that it can adequately plan for the future rather than just reacting to proposals.

  5. #65
    spmarshall Guest

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    At least you make a good case, even if I disagree strongly.

    I'll agree that the City screwed this one up good.

    Each of the last couple of years there have been 2,000+ files received by the OMB, and you hear about just a handful when some community groups disagree with the decision.
    True, but most of those 2,000 + files are minor things, as trivial as subdivision of small lots, fence issues, building expansions. Many of these are when a neighbour takes the applicant to the OMB.

    And why can a developer immediately make an appeal to the OMB when applying to the city to kick in after the 180 days?

  6. #66
    Citywriter Guest

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    Also the OMB didn't just approve everything the developers wanted. A number of changes the city and community favoured were made, including height reductions and setbacks
    This is not a victory. The proposal that got to the OMB was a negotiating position, as they always are. Developers never expect to get all the density and details they ask for.

    Everyone involved knows that's its gamesmanship. But the city of course can't fight back. Another reason why the current OMB model is troubled

  7. #67
    Mike in TO Guest

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    This is not a victory. The proposal that got to the OMB was a negotiating position, as they always are. Developers never expect to get all the density and details they ask for. Everyone involved knows that's its gamesmanship. But the city of course can't fight back. Another reason why the current OMB model is troubled
    The Queen West Triangle case was filed under the old OMB rules.

    New rules came into effect on January 1, 2007 due to provincial OMB reforms under Bill 51 (Liberals promised to reform OMB in last provincial election).

    Under the new rules, new evidence by any party may result in the information being returned to council for a recommendation. Therefore for example if a developer reduces the height of a tower by 5 storeys that information will be taken back to council for a recommendation.

    This does two things:
    1. There will be less gamesmanship as going back and forth between council and the OMB is expensive and causes delays for all parties. Complete applications with all the evidence will be filed with the city and all parties will know all the details and make a decision based on the evidence presented.

    2. In cases where there is new evidence and the OMB determines that the new evidence could have materially impacted councils decision, the information will be returned to council for a recommendation.

    The province hopes this will result in less "gamesmanship" and council making the final decision in more cases than in the past (less appeals to the OMB with an emphasis on local decision making).

  8. #68
    rjeffers Guest

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    Province offers Miller no help in stopping condo plan
    Kerry Gillespie
    Queen's Park Bureau
    Feb 22, 2007

    The province won't help Mayor David Miller stop a development in a Queen St. W. neighbourhood that he says will destroy a creative employment area.
    Last week, Miller asked the province to issue a zoning order to stop a condominium project approved by the Ontario Municipal Board from going up in an area near Dovercourt Rd., known as the Queen West triangle.
    Yesterday, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Gerretsen sent his reply.
    "Since the matter is still before the Ontario Municipal Board, we're certainly not prepared to interfere with that process," Gerretsen said in an interview yesterday, referring to the city's request that the OMB reconsider its decision.
    In his letter to Miller, Gerretsen also pointed out that the city had numerous options, which it didn't exercise, to change, delay or stop the development, before it got to the board.
    "In order to secure and protect the vision for this neighbourhood in a timely manner, the city could have enacted an interim control bylaw... . As well, city council had an opportunity to take a position on the three proposals for development in advance of any appeal to the OMB," the letter states.
    This is just the latest of numerous criticisms the city has faced over its handling of developers' plans to fill an area known for artist studios and old warehouses with high-rise condos.
    This month, the city forgot to ask the OMB to reconsider its decision within the time allowed. The city said it missed the deadline because the lawyer on the file was having surgery and none of the other 18 lawyers in the department knew about the need to file the papers. The OMB allowed the city to file late.
    The next day came allegations that the city had missed another deadline, this time dealing with the court appeal.
    Miller said it was "unfortunate" the province isn't prepared to issue a ministerial zoning order and countermand the action of the OMB, a provincial agency.
    "They've already acknowledged the need for reform of the OMB by bringing in some changes, and I think it's incumbent upon them to act. Otherwise, it sends a terrible message that there is no planning in Toronto. It's just whatever the OMB happens to think on a particular day," Miller said.
    Under the planning act, Gerretsen can prohibit certain types of buildings or regulate the use of land through a ministerial zoning order. The area surrounding the proposed site of the Pickering airport, for example, is under an order that prevents housing from being built too near the site.
    Gerretsen refused to say whether he would consider Toronto's request for a zoning order if the city doesn't get anywhere with either the court appeal or the OMB review.

  9. #69
    rjeffers Guest

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    City, province not in sync, builders say
    Queen's Park and Toronto seem to have different visions for growth


    February 24, 2007
    Theresa Boyle
    Toronto Star

    The City of Toronto's efforts to scuttle three controversial developments on West Queen West show it's out of sync with the province's growth strategy, developers argue.
    "There's a disconnect between what the province's plans for growth are ... and what municipalities are willing to accept," said Michael Moldenhauer, first vice-president of the newly merged Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association-Urban Development Institute.
    In a meeting with the Star's editorial board last week, Moldenhauer said developers have been forced to comply with Ontario's growth and greenbelt strategies, even though the legislation is not something they welcomed. The Places to Grow strategy, passed in legislation two years ago, requires that at least 40 per cent of any new development in the Greater Golden Horseshoe be in areas that are already built-up.
    The Greenbelt Act, companion legislation that was passed around the same time, restricts development on the 720,000-hectare arc of moraine, escarpment and open countryside from Niagara to Peterborough.
    The strategies are about intensification, building up and containing urban sprawl.
    "It's not what we wanted. We didn't want the province to be in the planning business. But we got it because we've been forced to get it," Moldenhauer said.
    Now it's time for municipalities to get it too, he argued. "The sooner that councils get exposed to what the reality is, the sooner we can educate the public at large as to what the reality is. Then we'll all be on the same page."
    The Ontario Municipal Board last month ruled in favour of three condominium developments on Queen between Dovercourt and Gladstone. Council voted earlier this month to challenge that decision by going to court, asking the OMB to reconsider its approval and asking the province to set aside the OMB's ruling.
    Residents in the area are opposed to the developments, arguing they will destroy the neighbourhood's artistic community.
    Moldenhauer said it's fine for ratepayer groups to come up with plans for how they would like to see their neighbourhoods developed. But those plans should jibe with the province's plans, which seek to accommodate the four million people expected to move to southern Ontario in the next 25 years, he added.
    "From a building standpoint, we would encourage a vision from communities of what they'd like to see, as long as the vision is aligned with what the province's vision is," Moldenhauer said.
    He pointed out that people generally like the concept of intensification until it comes to their neighbourhood. "We buy into it, just as long as you don't put it right beside my house," he said, echoing an oft-heard sentiment.
    Neil Rodgers, vice-president of policy and government relations for the home builders' association, said the city's attempts to overturn the decision are futile and costly.
    "In staff reports, the city's own legal staff has said they will probably lose all their routes of appeal," he remarked.
    Rodgers noted a proposal to build a seven-storey condo at Avenue Rd. and Lawrence is also headed to the OMB, with the city and residents opposed to it. "In the course of a couple of weeks, the city has spent, probably in two cases where they will lose, about half a million dollars. I didn't think we had that kind of money lying around City Hall."
    The residents' organization opposed to the West Queen West development is sophisticated and has put up a high-profile battle, he said. "I think there is a vocal minority who are influential with the arts community," he said, citing architect and urban designer Ken Greenberg.
    "There's a bit of what I like to call urban intelligentsia who are leading this debate. They are attracting attention from all corners."
    Every few years there are cases that go before the OMB that "get a status unlike another others," Rodgers noted. Before West Queen West, there was the controversial Minto Towers project at Yonge and Eglinton, which was approved and will soon be occupied.
    What's getting lost in the West Queen West battle is the plan to incorporate 190 new affordable housing units, he charged.
    "It's frustrating from an industry perspective. Why aren't we celebrating the 190 units of affordable housing that would be built on that project? That has been lost in all of the newsprint."

  10. #70
    AlvinofDiaspar Guest

    Default

    What I would really want to know is whether the city would miss the intensification targets in the event the builders follow existing zoning by-laws for the majority of their projects. There seems to be this trend to conflate any degree of zoning control as being anti-intensification.

    AoD

  11. #71
    Mike in TO Guest

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    AoD,

    Most of the zoning in Toronto is out of date in the scale of decades vs years. Intensification targets would be impossible to achieve and almost all intensification projects of any scale require zoning changes rather then as-of-right development.

    The city needs to (new provincial planning legislation - Bill 51 will require it) update zoning by-laws to conform with the O.P., PPS and Places to Grow - currently everything is out of sync, so it is just a matter of time until the zoning reflects a vision of where the city wants to go vs where the city was 20 or 30 years ago.

    The zoning also provides a lot of public-relations difficulties for new development as the first thing ratepayers and NIMBY groups say when a new condo is proposed is that it doesn't reflect the zoning... and in most cases that zoning by-law hasn't been updated since the late 60s or early 70s.

  12. #72

    Default

    IN BRIEF

    OMB to reconsider Queen Street high-rises

    JOHN BARBER

    Downtown activists won a partial victory in their fight to preserve the bohemian character of their neighbourhood yesterday when the Ontario Municipal Board agreed to reconsider a controversial decision to permit a dense cluster of high-rise residential buildings south of Queen Street, east of Dufferin.

    The unusual decision sets aside four days in May for the city to argue that the board erred in approving the development, which both council and local activists opposed. If the panel hearing the motion agrees, it has the power to order another full hearing on the merits of the case.

  13. #73
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Wow! Unusual indeed! Could we throw in the word 'unprecidented' too?

    Just the fact that the OMB is doing this is very hopeful.

    So, how did it happen? Some arm-twisting at from Queen's Park maybe?

    42

  14. Default

    This is Bohemien Lofts or whatnot right? Does anyone think that this publicity is effecting sales negatively? I saw some burb-like-trashy peeps walk out of there this past weekend and I wanted to beat them to scare them off the neighbourhood.

  15. #75
    kingwilson Guest

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    am i the only one who thinks there's just as much white trash downtown as in the burbs? just because i wear more black, live surrounded by taller buildings, dont go to tim hortons, and happen to call myself 'bohemian' doesn't mean im any less trash... the only difference really is that people in the burbs seem to have more irony about themselves than downtowners.

    that all said, i do prefer it downtown over, say, richmond hill... at least we're eclectic trash.

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