The following Sept. 13, 2015 message is from David Godley of Long Branch:
Greetings on rainy cool morning in Lovely Long Branch
Long Branch planning issues and updates
Searching for Development Applications online.
We can see applications as they come in and there is an email address to find more details at Application Information Centre.
Go to City of Toronto Website and search A I C.
Select Committee of Adjustment (COA) and type in Ward 6 and search. A map with red flags will come up for Committee of Adjustment applications when you zero in on the area of Long Branch. You can view other planning applications by altering the search. They are marked with blue flags.
Hopefully the flag colour can be changed when the file is no longer active. The list would be more helpful if it were in date order rather than alphabetical. Sometimes the more detailed information (learn more) is not available.
This is an excellent resource. Congratulations to the Planning Department.
New Application, 40 38th St Severance and variances.
This application was submitted on September 3 2015.
I understand I am to get the notification package as general point person until the Neighbourhood Association gets going.
I have not received notification but have asked the COA staff for details.
This is next to a severance which was refused and now has a new detached house (at 38)
Now is the best time to hold a pre-decision meeting for residents.
However the Planning Department have undertaken to recommend deferral in their comprehensive report at the COA meeting in order to have meaningful community input.
Either a planning staff member or councillor’s office member should be present to explain why. It is a temporary measure relating to the Urban Design Guidelines on which the City is working.
This severance and variance proposal will be considered at the COA meeting September 24th.
Again a deferral report from the Planning Department is part of the new process.
This application is taking us into new territory with every lot on Atherton being at least 50 feet frontage.
The proposal is 3 storey including garage at ground level with density changes from 0.35 to 0.59 and 0.56 on a deep lot.
No elevations were circulated with the recent notification as encouraged by Denise Rundle who is in charge of improvements to the process for the City.
To give perspective it would be helpful to show the front elevation in relation to the elevations of the 2 abutting houses.
This will reveal impacts, especially the fit of the property into the street scene. We would lose a servicible characterful house to two crammed cookie cutters.
An unusual element is a balcony at rear second floor level to be quadrupled in size.
The neighbours really should not have to gather arms but minor no longer has the dictionary definition which includes”insignificant”.
Development lawyers have defined it as huge; the whole system has been corrupted with the help of the OMB.
Also the Planning Department has in the recent past sometimes supported nearly double the density.
Yet the official definition according to the City’s website is as follows:
“Small changes or exceptions to existing land use or development restrictions contained in the zoning bylaw are called minor variances”
Until we get back to the 10% guideline the whole neighbourhood is threatened. This was the situation for 50 years but has changed relatively recently.
We are working co-operatively with the Planning Department on these issues.
The current application was turned down at the COA on August 27th.
This is also known as the chicken coop house because of the shed like structure on the roof.
The owner illegally built extra density up to 0.66 when 0.54 density from 0.35 was previously granted.
Even at the lower rate the approval would authorise one of the most jarring developments on any street in Long Branch.
A 50% increase can hardly be considered minor when 10% used to be rule of the thumb.
No OMB hearing was held but one wonders how much the neighbours were aware.
Until we get back to the intent of minor, Long Branch is always going to be in trouble.
Another 3 storey twin.
Information on the AIC is not available
I have requested details.
This 3 storey twin was approved by the COA with the support of the Planning Department.
The report was written in June so did not come under the new “deferral process”.
Nevertheless an increase in density nearly double that permitted can hardly be conceived as minor especially in light of the De Gasperis Divisional Court decision.
This states minor refers to size as well as impact. Why this case is ignored by all and sundry is a mystery. It has been challenged but remains the primary case law.
I spoke to two people who were basically opposed. Unfortunately (I hope they will excuse me) had not a clue what was going on.
A neighbour meeting would have helped but this shows the the meeting should be held before the matter goes to COA.
Lack of understanding by the public is a great impediment to good planning.
This 3 storey twin was approved by the OMB.
Commiserations to the neighbours as they now have been through this gruelling process twice and all they were looking for was a quiet life on a quiet street.
This is the first time 4 soldier houses will be built in a row. We are following Alderwood whose character in the Valermo area has transformed.
At least Alderwood have the protection that twin houses should be contrasted.
CORRA (the umbrella neighbourhood association) is trying to keep this requirement in the new zoning bylaw. Most builders will contrast housing anyway. But the greater the contrast the better in Long Branch.
You can see the shape of these houses now under construction.
The loss of 7 illegal trees and 2 healthy trees will have to be paid for on a 5 to 1 basis for the illegals and 3 to 1 basis for the legals either in tree replacement or just over $500 each.
The City is pursuing the matter in court where fines can be levied between $500 and $1 million.
We are waiting for an OMB decision from the same OMB hearing officer who approved 4 27th.
This was where the Planning Department and Applicant came to an arrangement without invloving the objectors prior to an OMB hearing.
It included a reduction from 3 feet side yard to 2 feet sideyard.
This is never desirable as the land is all but unusable and between two tall houses looks out of place.
There is no room for either building or maintenance without trespass.
In this case the developer dug down to expose the footings and gas pipe on the neighbours property.
We first had to get the attention of the chief building official who sent out an inspector who immediately called engineers to inspect for safety concerns.
There is a lesson from all these missteps by small developers. The approval of development which is way out of sync with the neighbourhood costs the City and citizens a lot of money and nuisance.
2 feet side yard are do not work.
39 Fairfield Ave
This one is scary.
The OMB hearing was held on 9 September with Cheeseman who is probably the trickiest development lawyer on the circuit.
There was a question of legal right. It may have had 3 units when the Long Branch zoning bylaw came in in the 1950s.
I have enquired with the Building Dept about this isssue.
It was built as a detached house according to objectors who had been in the house in the early fifties contrary to evidence from the planner.
Complaints started in 2004 about additional units and additional structures in 2004.
In 2007 an application was put in to increase 3 units to 4 even though there were 3 illegal units.
Enforcement notices eventually led to the latest planning application to legalise 6 units although 7 exist.
The various owners have been able to have at least 3 illegal units for 10 years.
They can continue to apply for different schemes ad infinitum meanwhile getting rents for illegal apartments.
The COA turned down the application in April 2015 and the objectors expected the City to defend the decision.
Unfortunately the current process needs the Councillor to request authorisation for the City to provide legal and planning help, but no one ever tells them.
Also they do not necessarily know when an application is appealed.
This information needs to be sent in writing to every person in the notice area or a new method of obtaining City help.
The severance and variance system is already Goliath versus David without a sling for citizens.
Neighbour meetings could alleviate.
One of Cheeseman’s tricks was to have me banned from evidence.
According to him no one should be interested in their community unless they are directly affected.
However after a break of 30 minutes by the chair Laurie Bruce, I was allowed to proceed.
My background in planning was given no weight, a change from hearings some time back.
According to OMB current lore unchallenged planning evidence carries the day against any citizen comment.
The chair is a qualified planner and part of a new batch of OMB officers with similar backgrounds.
Can she as a planner assess planning evidence. You would think so.
With 6 units on a 50 feet wide lot this is by far and away the most intrusive land use we have dealt with.
The property is surrounded by singles even though it looks like an unkempt single. But it is clearly against the Official Plan compatibility test and the most the current zoning allows is a duplex on such a small lot.
This would be a good student project to see how planning actually works in Toronto.
73 & 75 27th Street
The illegal decks will probably be the subject of an application to the COA.
Again it takes eons to fix an illegal issue as well as eating up valuable Building Dept and citizen time.
Raised decks are a common problem with 3 storey houses.
This is where the leafy giant is being killed by illegally paving over a front yard.
Summary of Development
We are moving in the right direction but incrementally.
There are still major problems not addressed yet.
A common thread is that overdeveloped lots provide problems either during construction or afterwards which are only solved after an excessive time and cost.
The overdeveloped sites generate permanent problems all identified in the Official Plan.
Overdeveloped sites never blend to the character of the neighbourhood which is primarily the surrounding buildings on the street.
The policies of the City are being severely undermined.
The OMB is primarily responsible. The Local Area Board could be implemented some time next year to
replace the OMB.
However there may be similar difficulties with LABs.
The current development process is probably the most unfair process in Ontario
The people with power and money are oppressing and abusing citizens who the City serve.
Top down processes are inhumane. Steve Hilton’s book on how to run Government to actually serve people is essential reading for those involved in the community.
Canada is a very top down country. The brass know best. There have been successful devolution to the citizen level in UK. The policy is known as localism to which Steve subscribes.
Community Boards in New York have changed the whole balance of power putting a great deal of weight on community developmentand grass roots representation.
Ontario needs to emerge from its dark ages of planning. There is some movement on this front at the City level.
New COA members
Dominic Gulli is an academically trained urban planner, with over 35 years of experience in city and transportation planning. As a former Director for the City of Toronto in the Transportation Services Division, Dominic was responsible for the delivery of transportation services in accordance with the City’s Strategic Plans. The only member reappointed.
Megan McIver received a BA in Environmental Policy and Business Administration from Trent University. Megan began her career at Queen’s Park where she served as Issues Manager to two of Ontario’s Cabinet Ministers, and Senior Advisor to Ontario’s Minister of Finance. In 2015, Megan joined Scotiabank’s Small Business Banking team as a Business Analyst where her focus is on regulatory compliance. Megan is an environmentalist, women’s and children’s advocate, and volunteer.
Nathan is a life-long Toronto resident, passionate about cities and development. He is a trained planner and practices municipal, real estate and development law at the Region of Peel. Nathan attended planning school at Ryerson University and studied law at the Universities of Windsor and Detroit. He worked on revitalization initiatives in Detroit and volunteers with the OBA Municipal Law Executive. He has experience acting for private owners and municipalities on various planning matters.
Edwin (Ted) Shepherd
Edwin (Ted) Shepherd has practiced architecture in Canada, England and South Africa, and was Vice President of the Ontario Association of Architects, Director of Pro-Demnity Insurance Company and is on the board of the Foundation for Architectural Research. Ted also was Director of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and President of the Markham Board of Trade. Ted has a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Toronto and is a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
NB Ted was substitute for Tony Vella a conservationist at Council. He served on the North York COA last term.
Allan Smithies graduated from Sheridan College’s Transportation Planning program in 1978, and was employed by the former City of Etobicoke in a number of positions including Transportation Planner and Manager of Transportation Planning. Most recently, Allan served as Manager of Traffic Planning/Right of Way Management for the City of Toronto from 1999 until his retirement in March 2014
I met with Max Dida and Svetlana Verbitsky, his assistant last week. Max is Supervisor of the Etobicoke Tree Protection and Plan Review, one of 4 posts reporting to Arthur Beauregard, Manager.
Clearly these are dedicated people and their mandate overlaps strongly with the neighbourhood.
The response to a request for the meeting included the following:
Thank-you for being the eyes of the trees in your neighbourhood and concerns to protect the trees and increase the tree canopy in the Long Branch area.
Your assistance by calling 311 or informing us either via email email@example.com or phone at our general number 416 338 6596 if you see work around the trees and no tree protection barriers/orange plastic web snow fencing around trees would be very much appreciated. We will visit the site ASAP and advise.
In the last two months Urban Forestry have upped their game by hardening their stance on removing healthy trees for convenience.
They always inspect the site of variances and severance and note tree issues once they are circulated a COA proposal.
If there are issues they request a tree saving plan. If it is not received by the hearing they ask for deferral until it is done to their satisfaction.
They pointed out that greater densities and tighter side yards were working against tree preservation.
2 27th Street is the terrible example. 9 Atherton looks as though Urban Forestry may ask for deferral. 58 Ash also has front yard tree issues.
Their mandate is to bring the tree canopy from about 27% up to 40%.
All trees about 1 feet diameter at 4.5 feet high need a permit. There are formulae for replacement trees.
However where an owner has a right to build a permit cannot be refused.
Previously trees were not really a consideration of the COA as a condition was simply included to be dealt with later.
Now the COA should be considering trees at the front end of the process.
Max and Svetlana encouraged any citizens to call 311 immediately if they see developers removing the orange screen fencing and attemting work outside the boundary.
Some one is on standby 24/7 to respond. Picture of tree roots being destroyed at 2 27th Street.
Barbara Leibel and I are working with Paul Bain who is charge of the Official Plan Update including the “Neighbourhoods” section.
We are encouraging the inclusion of trees to specifically metioned in the criteria section as well as urban design. both policies are in separate sections already.
A major concern has cropped up. Where the immediate neighbourhood was given priority in the wording last time, it has been changed to give the wider neighbourhood equal status.
Letter attached of September 11 2015.
That is all for now. If you wish for further details on any item I can give the information or point you in the right direction.
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