I am pleased to share with you the following message from David Godley:
Long Branch in 2014
Some gains and some losses in the fight to control overdevelopment but there is light on the horizon
1. Community Meeting
Conserving Long Branch character is complex and difficult to follow. I was delighted to receive an email from Kim Edgar on 15 December 2014 with the following information:
“Councillor Grimes remains committed to holding a community meeting early in the new year. We are currently working out our schedule of events for 2015, and determining who else needs to be involved to make the meetings the most productive.
“You will be informed as soon as we have more information about the meeting.
“Direct any enquiries about this to Kim at the Councillor’s email email@example.com ”
2. Bill 39 to amend the Planning Act
This has passed its second reading in the Legislature. Introduced by our MPP Milczyn, it keeps the current structure intact but restricts the role of the OMB. This is a different approach to eliminating appeals to the OMB in Toronto which was defeated in a bill in the last session. Included would be clarifications of the 4 tests for variances. While Bill 39 has support of both Liberals and NDP it is not certain how it will gel with a wider Government review of the Planning Act. The move is encouraging for the long run so congratulations to Peter.
3. Official Plan Review
At Urban Design and Neighbourhood Planning public sessions, city planners appear to be heading in the direction of putting the method of neighbourhood character evaluation in the Official Plan.
Emphasis on the block in which is the proposal is set is key rather than drawing a large area and allowing any type of building found within the several hundred houses. This is at the discussion stage. Clearly each street or portions of a street have their own character and a development in another street is not really relevant.
However the OMB, which often appears to be an arm of the building industry, cannot necessarily see this distinction.
It is likely to be months if not years before any such an amendment to the Official Plan is legally binding although an indication of which way the OP Review is heading may be helpful. This is the beginning of a very big step and holds hope for the future.
4. Ontario Municipal Board Cases
6 Shamrock is an example where any lay person can see the street rhythm is disrupted by having 2 3 storey 25 feet frontage lots inserted into a row of bungalows on 50 feet wide lots. This is not to mention the severe impact on adjoining lots.
Along with 2 27th Street and 168 Lake Promenade this is the most blatantly irrational of approvals in Long Branch so far.
The 82 27th Street August OMB hearing was decided on December 17th in favour of the community. This is worthy of celebration.
20 James has a hearing on February 13 2015, changed from April 21st.
86 23rd Street has a hearing March 26th.
This is a special case where the owner has already built 1 of the 2 houses at a density which appears to exceed the density of the whole site and is asking for about double the density for a second house.
This is a serious issue without any potential resolutions as yet. 48 35th Street has a hearing set for 23rd April; the chief objector Diane Cusimano has been helping other groups, so thank you.
13 Villa Road was spared an OMB hearing by another owner on Villa Road buying from the developer. The Villa Road residents had put together the most comprehensive case for refusal to any severance/variances so far. Well done Jaan Pill and other Villa Road residents especially the new owners of 13.
24 25th Street has an OMB hearing on March 18th.
Councillor Grimes has in all these cases arranged for City Legal and Planning representation as well as writing letters of support for residents objections to the Committee of Adjustment. It should be borne in mind the City does not represent the objecting citizens but speaks for the city as a whole.
5. OMB Complaint to Ombud
Initially I made comments to the OMB about the conduct and decisions of the hearing officer for 2 27th Street. The idea was to improve their performance in future and avoid long hearings where every aspect of every case has to be brought forward.
For example if everyone would agree that a severance in “Neighbourhoods” is a local matter and not influenced by the Provincial Policies in accordance with Toronto’s Official Plan.
Since none of my many questions were answered or commented upon I upped this to a formal complaint to the OMB and then the Provincial Ombudsman.
After thorough investigation the Ombudsman concluded basically that I had no case or in other words “the system was wrong”.
Fortress OMB is unaccountable except for the rich who can afford to challenge in courts of law.
6. New Appointments
Councillor Shiner has been appointed Chair of Planning and Growth Management Committee at City Hall. He is not known for being planning oriented as was former Chair Councillor Milczyn.
Councillor Mammoliti is chair of a committee to appoint new Committee of Adjustment members. I hope that new members will be required to follow the Official Plan as well as the whole planning and legal framework.
Contact the City if you are interested in being a Committee of Adjustment member. A number of new appointments to the OMB are qualified planners which may be a good omen.
6 January 2015
[End of text from David Godley]