David Godley favours good planning – for Toronto’s sake
David Godley lives on Lake Promenade in Long Branch in south Etobicoke.
You can reach David Godley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-255-0492.
In the text that follows – with the exception of the introduction you are now reading, the text is all from David Godley – I’m using the colour scheme that David has chosen. I’ve also added headings to make for easier online reading.
Click on the photos to enlarge them; click again to enlarge them further
I’ve shared information previously about David Godley’s volunteer work, as a retired professional planner, on behalf of local residents.
I strongly support David’s work.
Here are some previous posts related to his efforts on behalf of Long Branch and other City of Toronto neighbourhoods:
David Godley on overdevelopment in Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey)
Toronto is a world class laggard when it comes to street pedestrianisation: David Godley
We support community-driven urban planning at the City of Toronto
The following text refers to several attached files from David Godley including the following two Word files:
18daisyev [Word file]
ombgrid [Word file]
The following text has been prepared by David Godley and has been sent to all Toronto Councillors
I am interested in good planning for Toronto’s sake. This is to help you familiarize yourself with the issues.
1) Possible deletion of key planning staff
Deleting staff to support the City’s Official Plan will mean a free for all for developers in neighbourhoods.
The OMB is basically an arm of the development industry.
The joke is that OMB stands for Ontario Marsupial Board as it is a kangaroo court.
Abuse of citizens
Citizens are already treated as second class citizens by the OMB and frequently abused even with current City help from both Planning and Legal.
You might as well throw out good planning and the Official Plan policies that the City have worked hard in preparing and upholding.
2) Committee of Adjustments – Adjustments
These are excellent initiatives by The City
3) OMB Evidence, City Role (attachments on 18 Daisy)
Divisions of City Planning have differing views on how to evaluate neighbourhood character which is hampering conservation of character. This is a serious concern but can be dealt with internally by Planning staff.
“Associations request that the Executive Committee not approve the Budget Committee’s proposals for budget reductions to City Planning. We recommend that the Executive Committee: 1) reinstate the capital and operating funds required for these important city planning functions; and 2) support the reinstatement of the Ontario Municipal Board solicitor in Legal Services.”
Further, “The four positions in the Strategic Initiatives, Policy and Analysis group in City Planning are for area and City-wide studies. These studies are required to allow Toronto to undertake pro-active planning in an effort to get ahead of the ongoing development review and are imperative, especially in areas facing severe development pressures.” [Emphasis added.]
It is important that the City maintain an adequate planning staff along with appropriate legal staff to defend its Official Plan and Zoning By-laws at Committees of Adjustment as well as the Ontario Municipal Board.
Thank you for sending me the proposed Committee of Adjustments issues that are to be reported upon (blue below).
Anyone who is involved with the Committee of Adjustment knows these issues.
The most crying need is to have a community meeting prior to a severance or controversial variances.
Parts of south west Toronto are out of control as far as inharmonious overdevelopment is concerned and the OMB seem to be an arm of the building industry.
Role of planning department at OMB hearings
I am also concerned about the planning department’s role in OMB hearings.
The OP Section, experts on the Official Plan, are being overridden by the Local Planners on how to interpret the OP.
Consequently the Local Planners are not making the best of their opportunity at the OMB.
They also tend to ignore neighbour impacts and do not emphasize the role of the public.
I have been trying to supplement this information at OMB hearings but with little success.
The way the Committee of Adjustment runs now we could have a neighbour on vacation and come back to an approval that will damage quality of living if they decide to remain.
Often people simply leave the neighbourhood.
If there are no objectors the Committee of Adjustment finds it difficult to turn an application down even if a proposal is clearly non conforming to the Official Plan
I attach a recently submitted letter to Jennifer Keesmaat in whom I have great faith (see green).
Received from Councillor’s office:
Improving the Committee of Adjustment Process
I have heard from many of you that the Committee of Adjustment process needs to be improved. Frustration has been expressed about a number of issues, including the inadequacy of public notices and the quality of the Committee members.
Earlier this week, Staff brought a preliminary report to Planning & Growth Committee titled Committee of Adjustment Continuous Improvement Initiatives with the goal of improving transparency, accountability and public engagement, as follows:
a) Expand the public hearing notice area beyond 60 metres of the subject site
b) Extend the timeline for the delivery of the public hearing notice beyond ten days
c) Improve the manner, form and content of the public notice and sign
d) Explore alternative means to engage surrounding neighbours prior to the hearings;
e) Improve the training and on-going professional development of Committee of Adjustment members
f) Require a City Planner to be on hand during public hearings of the Committee to answer questions from Committee members and the public
g) Consider audio-visual recording or audio recording of Committee of Adjustment panels
h) Develop a public participation strategy, including the development of a comprehensive guide to ensure that the public is well informed about Committee of Adjustment processes, as well as how to effectively engage in Committee hearings
I will provide updates as work toward improving the Committee of Adjustment moves forward and notify you when there are public consultation opportunities.
City Planning role in severances/variances:
Message from David Godley to Jennifer Keesmaat
I am writing to you as the bright light in the City firmament.
We know the OMB inconsistencies, seemingly moronic decisions and treatment of residents as second class citizens.
We know the the OMB is the worst way to settle land use conflict issues.
We know that the Liberal Government and hence the OMB are controlled to some extent by the building industry. John Sewell calls it pathetic.
We know the Planning Department is short of resources.
I would like to raise two issues that would help make the City more effective.
1) In the OMB hearings I have attended in Long Branch the City Planners have done well within their Division’s frame of reference.
Comprehensive planning evidence is not provided
However the City does not provide comprehensive planning evidence to ensure conformity of the Official Plan.
They usually do not mention neighbour impact. Pictorial examples of 3 recent approvals that will be around for a century are attached.
At the 20 James hearing by far the most intrusive blank wall in the neighbourhood (on a flanking street) was not mentioned in evidence.
In 18 Daisy there were major privacy issues with the new proposed house having multiple windows looking straight down into the 6 windows of the house to the west which was oriented east.
The other impact was that the substantially increased bulk of the new house (nearly 3 times larger than currently permitted) would darken its neighbour.
20 James Street and 18 Daisy
Hopefully both 20 James and 18 Daisy will be turned down by the OMB. No mention either is ever made of public participation or its role or support for community driven planning. Perhaps some policies could be provided during the OP Review too.
Residents are reluctant to speak at all in a foreign and threatening environment and often do not get their points across when they do. City planners have a role in overcoming this imbalance.
2) Local City planners are presenting cases that are at odds with the OP Review team, the OP and sound planning in my opinion.
Definition of study area
It is classic for a development planner to define a large study area with a similar example to their proposal. Then they say it is the character of the area. Unfortunately the OMB often agrees.
City planners incorrectly use the study area (they did not used to) and try to establish the overall character to say the proposal is atypical.
This usually entails extensive mathematical evidence and cross examination and to me meaningless.
The case is weakened when it is admitted that the prevailing character does not exclude other types of development.
Based on contact with OP Review staff it is the neighbourhood which is key for the building type.
The nearby massing (density, lot frontage and setbacks) is determined by the block. This is putting it simplistically.
My 18 Daisy witness statement attached with maps gives an example and elaborates on all my points.
Congratulations to the City on opposing the 18 Daisy approval at the OMB but what happened on 47 Elder, the example given as a similar development.
Lack of comments from the City and appeal of C of A decisions not conforming to the Official Plan has led to parts of Alderwood having a complete character change from 10 years ago and Long Branch is starting to suffer a similar fate.
A comprehensive strategy is needed to solve this issue.
I started Gratis Planning Aid to work behind the scenes but found it did not produce the best results. I then started attending OMB hearings to try to get more planning balance. However I can get little traction with the Board. At the last hearing I was made to wait 10 hours before I could give 7 minutes of evidence from my 30 minute presentation.
Pecuniary conflict of interest
The applicant’s planner took 3.5 hours of multiple repeat evidence laced with lies. Well qualified planners unfortunately prostitute themselves. The OMB takes no notice of the fact that such planners are up to their eyeballs in pecuniary conflict of interest.
Since I have been unsuccessful in trying to balance the OMB’s David and Goliath situation I would like the City to revise their role to move towards restoring the integrity of the Official Plan.
While I have your attention I will comment on two general matters. I would say the current system of deciding conflicts other than major items should be tossed. A system of written representation including cross examination should be initiated and matters decided by qualified people – that is well rounded appointed planners. This is the system in
the UK since 1947 with no controversy. Politically, Community Boards like New York need to be implemented.
As far as Long Branch is concerned you may be aware of a planned community meeting being organised by the Councillor. Long Branch is in urgent need of a preservation bylaw which would tighten the screws on a malfunctioning machine.
I have copied relevant politicians and those either suffering from poor planning or having the possibility of this situation. Several people have moved away.
One major success by the City is that they employed you.
I look forward to hearing from you and would be interested in meeting if you had time in your extremely busy schedule.
Feel free to write to anyone who may influence these issues.
[End of text from David Godley]
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