33 Forty First Street Application in Long Branch offers an opportunity for networking among residents

I learned of the severance proposal for 33 Forty First Street just recently.

Hearing Date:
Thursday, April 25 , 2013
1:00 p.m.
Council Chambers – 399 The West Mall, Etobicoke Civic Centre

I’ve been focused upon other projects including the upcoming Long Branch Jane’s Walk on May 4 and May 5, 2013, starting on each of these two days at 10:30 am at the East Parking Lot at Marie Curtis Park.

However, I’ve written a letter to the Committee of Adjustment, as have other residents. The text of my letter is below, at the end of this blog post.

Please feel free to use my letter as a starting point for a letter of your own, in the event you wish to share your views with the Committee.

Severances if nothing else offer residents an opportunity for networking and information sharing.

I have included in the letter a suggestion that any resident reading the letter would view these ongoing severances as an opportunity for residents across Toronto to network and compare notes.

Please keep me informed of such severances, and any information you may come across. Such information can be shared on my website, as has been my ongoing practice for some time.

As residents, we are in a situation in Long Branch and elsewhere in Toronto, with regard to lot severances, where urban planning is in effect to a large extent being done,  and is driven by, developers.

Residents have an opportunity to express their views, such as in letters and deputations at Committee of Adjustments and in meetings of the quasi-judicial Ontario Municipal Board. By and large, their views are ignored.

In some cases, as in at least one OMB decision regarding Long Branch that I have read, the irrelevance of their views, with regard to the decision-making process, is pointedly underlined.

What is notable, I would argue, is that residents pay taxes and vote in elections, but their interests are ignored. The question is: how do we as residents address such an anomaly?

And: Is this an anomaly or is this just how things are in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario, in the nation-state called Canada?

In the circumstances, what can we as residents do?

What to do isn’t clear to me, but I believe there is value in conversations among neighbours. Such conversations can occur online, in small groups, and in meetings organized by residents.

This need not be a conversation of left or right, or one that is driven by anger. What’s little I’ve observed from the study of history, solutions driven by anger tend to lead to further problems.

A conversation will be of value, and the ongoing tide of severances offer a great opportunity to initiate the conversation and keep it going.

If you have comments or information you wish to share, please contact me at jpill@preservedstories.com or at the Preserved Stories website.

In discussing this topic, I seek to share information that is accurate – that is, evidence- based and capable of corroboration and verification – and balanced. My value as a blogger, whatever that value may be, exists to the extent that I demonstrate that what I share is accurate and balanced.

Copy editing: Typos and malapropisms

I’ve tried to clean up typos in my text as best as I can. I sometimes, as in part of this blog post, use Dictate for Mac to speed up the blog-writing process but don’t always catch the resulting typos. The malapropisms, on the other hand, which occur from time to time especially in emails and are at times a source of entertainment for both reader and writer, appear to be a concomitant of the passage of the years; they appear to reflect age-related neurological processes manifesting in inadvertent word choices that follow phonics principles. In a sense, life is a race against time.

Letter to Committee of Adjustment

Committee of Adjustment

2 Civic Centre Court
Toronto, ON
M9C 5A3

c/o Susanne Pringle
 at Springle@toronto.ca

cc: Ward 6 Councillor Mark Grimes at councillor_grimes@toronto.ca

April 24, 2013

RE: 33 Forty First Street

Files: B5/13EYK, A65/13EYK, A66/13EYK

Dear Committee of Adjustment:

I am aware of, and am in favour of, a petition that has been circulating on Forty First Street. I have adapted the text of the petition as the basis of my letter.

I urge each resident who reads this letter to adapt it and send in her or his own version.

I would like to encourage residents to view each lot severance, such as at 33 Forty First Street, as an opportunity to network, to get to know other neighbours, and to share information. Please contact me at jpill@preservedstories.com or at the Preserved Stories website if you wish to assist in such networking.

If enough of us get to know each other, we can also figure out how to increase the likelihood that our voices, or the voices of future generations, will be heard in the course of local decision making.

My message to the Committee of Adjustment is as follows.

I am a resident of Long Branch.

I would like to express my concern about the trend that has developed whereby existing fifty-foot lots being subdivided in order to put in two large houses.

In the past few years, on Forty First Street alone, it’s my understanding that at least six lots have been severed. The houses being built require further variances to accommodate the size of the home in relation to the lot.

One has the impression that once the City grants one such variance it is a signal to developers that it is open season on fifty-foot lots. They can move into the neighbourhood, subdivide at will, and reap the financial benefits that come from buying one lot and selling two houses.

The process has been described as insidious. No one objects to one, two, or three such projects but over time these add up and now it appears that most redevelopment in the area involves subdividing lots. Such a process will drastically alter the feel of our neighbourhood.

The new homes feature lovely interiors and look shiny and new from the curb. But as neighbours of these homes we resent the way they are squeezed into the lot, often towering over their neighbours and the sidewalk, dwarfing everything around them.

In some cases, the existing tree canopy appears, as I understand, to be threatened, in terms of root damage to existing trees, by such redevelopments. There has as well be at least one report that I am aware of, from a second-hand source, of basement flooding that has occurred in a neighbouring house following such a redevelopment.

This is an old, well-established community, with homes dating back to the early 1900s. We have a mix of twenty-five and fifty-foot lots which adds to the uniqueness and charm of the neighbourhood. It is why we, as property owners, bought here and continue to live here.

There are existing twenty-five foot lots that could be redeveloped. The existing fifty-foot lots can also be redeveloped with a single home, as fortunately has been done in some cases. Why must this neighbourhood give up a large proportion of our fifty-foot lots for the benefit of developers?

We notice that while other Etobicoke neighbourhoods are also experiencing the redevelopment of their older homes, they are keeping their fifty-foot lots.

As neighbours of these re-zoned lots we grow increasingly concerned about the long-range plans for this community.

We respectfully ask the City: Can we as residents not have any input into the long-range plans for development of our own neighbourhood?


Jaan Pill


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