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North York Council names street "OMB Folly"

gregv

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http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/513835


TheStar.com - GTA - It's street revenge on developer

Furious councillors overruled on condo site name road OMB Folly

October 08, 2008
Paul Moloney
City Hall Bureau

A street by any other name wouldn't be such sweet revenge.

North York councillors peeved at being overruled by the Ontario Municipal Board – on a condo complex they didn't want – exacted poetic justice yesterday by giving the project an address the developer won't soon forget: OMB Folly.

That's the name the North York community council, on a 7-2 vote, chose for the new street leading into the 36-unit complex.

Councillor John Filion, who has frequently knocked heads with developers, said he was flabbergasted the OMB would allow rezoning for townhouses on a site that lies outside the designated North York Centre development area.

"This one really stands out as the most ludicrous decision that I know of," Filion said. "It takes the cake. I could cite a lot of terrible OMB decisions, but it's the one that's just obviously absurd and ridiculous."

Filion had expected his colleagues to resist his suggestion to name the street OMB Folly. Not today, said Councillor Maria Augimeri, after Councillor Howard Moscoe urged Filion to put it to a vote.

Councillor David Shiner said the move may usher in a welcome precedent: "When we start having the OMB not only go against our council but our planning staff, we may be able to come up with some very creative names to help name these new developments that show up without city council or city staff support."

The municipal board, a quasi-judicial tribunal set up by the province, has routinely been blasted by Toronto councillors without firing back. Yesterday was no exception.

"I can tell you right now we have no comment on that," said Matthew Bryan, of the OMB's communications office. "We have no comment on what North York community council wishes to do."

But the developer, who plans to start construction soon, was not amused.

"Are they nuts?" said Stephen Maizels, CEO of Hallstone Group. "Where is the adulthood? When do they grow up?"

Maizels said the previous owner of the site, Churchill-Basswood Developments Inc., was the entity that went to the OMB. The tribunal ruled in 2005 that the proposed development was appropriate for the site, fit well into the neighbourhood and represented good planning.

Filion, however, said there are lots of available sites within the specified boundaries for intensification – on either side of Yonge St. from Highway 401 to north of Finch Ave. According to the master plan, development isn't supposed to encroach into neighbourhoods of single-family detached homes.

Filion is worried the Hallstone development sets a bad precedent.

"Other developers will follow the lead and say, `Let's just run off to the Ontario Municipal Board and see if we get a crazy decision, too.' It's worth it for them to gamble $50,000 on an OMB hearing and roll the dice."

A city staff report had suggested the street be named Connfield Lane, after John Conn, an early landowner in the area.

City council has given community councils authority to decide street names on their own, but officials are currently pondering whether OMB Folly contravenes the street-naming policy, which says derogatory names should be avoided.

So the issue may be reopened for a second look at the next meeting of city council, Oct. 29-30.
 

Skeezix

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Classic example of why the OMB continues to exist -- the adolescent behavious of City councillors. If the City really wanted to get rid of the OMB, they'd fix their planning process and ensure that decisions were made on the basis of good planning, not good politics. Instead, Council ignores its own Official Plan policies and the PPS whenever it feels like it, and seems to think rhetoric is a good substitute for intelligent planning. It's sad, really, but the OMB is in effect a babysitter for a terribly troubled child.
 

scarberiankhatru

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The site in question is perfect for townhouses and the OMB is 100% correct...the site lies immediately north of townhouses built on ex-bungalow lots and right across the street from about 3 ex-bungalows that were turned into 6 skinny McMansions; both of these sites are outside the NYC boundary. The folly here was making the North York Centre secondary zone only one block wide.
 

CityPlaceN1

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The city is at fault here? They drew a line, east side is higher density, west side is single family dwellings. Developer decides he want townhouses where the plan says single family dwellings. City says no. Developer goes to OMB and OMB says yes to the developer. The OMD overruled the city's official plan and you blame the city?
 

scarberiankhatru

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Yes, the city is clearly wrong here. West of these proposed townhouses is a large church - this is the best place to transition down from townhouses to bungalows/McMansions, particularly when you factor in what's north and south and east of the site in question.
 

taal

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I actually know this site very well as I take the 36 quite often.

In all honesty this a very good site for townhomes and the city is wrong.

But that's not always the case i.e. the OMB isn't always correct and I'd rather the city have the power to make these decisions even if some of them aren't the best.

One argument for not allowing these is to make sure developers concentrate on the area already available in NYCC to develop it first.
 

scarberiankhatru

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There isn't really much land left in the North York Centre secondary zone that's suited to townhouses, and most of the remaining potential condo tower-appropriate sites would involve destroying healthy retail strips. The bulk of the remaining undeveloped spots at and south of Sheppard are spoken for or under construction, there's almost nothing left between Sheppard and Empress/Park Home, most spots between there and Finch are currently also spoken for or under construction, and whatever's north of Finch will almost certainly have to wait until Beecroft is rammed through to Drewry (Doris will not continue up to Cummer).
 

Solaris

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such a joke from North York Councillors ... just because the OMB ruled against the City to support the builder, Councillors are voting to name the street some bizarre name ... just like kids "if I can't have it, nor can you"

once again I'm thankful for OMB's existence in this instance, as OMB decisions are "made on the basis of good planning, not politics"
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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such a joke from North York Councillors ... just because the OMB ruled against the City to support the builder, Councillors are voting to name the street some bizarre name ... just like kids "if I can't have it, nor can you"

once again I'm thankful for OMB's existence in this instance, as OMB decisions are "made on the basis of good planning, not politics"

Just because Toronto council (and others) can by NIMBYish and "wrong" does not validate that claim. I don't buy that the OMB makes decisions on that basis as a general rule, and certainly not 100% of the time.

I've seen too many absurd decisions to believe that they somehow have the monopoly on proper planning procedures.

At best, they are just as fallible as city councils.
At worst, they are regularly overruling decisions made by democratically elected councils.

Nowhere else in this country has a similar board and I don't buy that, say, the council in Vancouver is inherently more competent than ours. I think there would be mistakes -just as there are now - if the OMB were abolished but overall we'd be just fine.

Toronto council has taken a lot of crap from them over the years and whether or not they are right in this particular instance, it was inevitable that the frustrations of council would materialize. It's a bit immature, I guess, and yet I'm impressed.

That said, I'm trying to picture this exact site...is it near the police station?
 

unimaginative2

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This sounds to me like the exact kind of low-rise intensification we should be seeing in the inner suburbs, especially so close to a major growth centre and subway station.

It's the property on the south-west side of this intersection, immediately north of the existing townhouse complex.
 

MuchoGrande

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Whatever you may think of the OMB, this is a sad and embarrassing statement about the quality and character of some of our City councillors. Juvenile and unproductive.
 

doady

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This is a good example of how planners and the politicians who control them are the real cause of sprawl, as well other urban problems like poverty and segegation. Such problem are the result of planning policies.

Even mere townhouses not allowed in area of single-family detached homes? That could be income segregation right there.
 

scarberiankhatru

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This is a good example of how planners and the politicians who control them are the real cause of sprawl, as well other urban problems like poverty and segegation. Such problem are the result of planning policies.

Even mere townhouses not allowed in area of single-family detached homes? That could be income segregation right there.

Huh? I'm sure these townhouses will be roughly the same price as the bungalows in the area, only buyers will probably get "less house" for their money, which means poorer people will not be living here...the townhouse residents are all but guaranteed to be more well-off than the widows living in neighbouring bungalows.
 

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