Conserving Long Branch – July 2016 Update from David Godley
[The following update is from David Godley. David sent it out to his email list on July 2, 2016 but I have been slow in posting it to my website. This is volunteer work and my slowness comes with the territory.]
Message from David Godley:
Formal Review of Ontario Municipal Board
(Links below and my submission attached)
[A June 23, 2016 CBC article is entitled: “Naqvi makes good on campaign promise, launches Ontario Municipal Board review: Quasi-judicial panel that can overturn city council particularly controversial in Ottawa Centre.”]
[A June 23, 2016 Ontario Government news release is entitled: “Province Launches Review of Ontario Municipal Board.”
9 MEAFORD AVENUE B29/16, A338-9/16 Proposed 3 storey soldier houses
This proposal is to be considered by the Committee of Adjustment at 4pm in the Board Room at the Etobicoke Civic Centre on July 7th (Thursday).
The Planning Department are recommending deferral for community input but have raised no concerns.
It is unusual for the Planning Department to reach this conclusion prior to controversial cases without the public’s say.
It is anticipated the applicant will ask for the hearing to proceed and be given a decision (refuse or approve) by the Committee of Adjustment.
This will likely result in an Ontario Municipal Board hearing.
An issue which seems to becoming topical is the “building envelope” – the area of space that can be occupied by building due to setbacks and height limit in the zoning.
This came up on 88 Laburnham and seemed to be a factor on 10 Garden Place.
Although the placement of a house on a lot can be controlled though site plan approval this is too cumbersome according to Planning.
Using the building envelope approach means that double the density does not seem to be a problem although it is really a systemic weakness of the zoning system.
So the impact on neighbours is not taken into account even though they can be severe.
Mitigating impacts is in the public interest and consideration of reduction of quality of life is part of urban planning.
Clearly this approach to allow extra density because a proposal is in the “building envelope” is contrary to good planning and does not accord with the policies of the Official Plan.
This pro development argument needs to be squelched immediately. It runs counter to conserving the character of Long Branch.
Residents and Residents Associations are entirely dependent on the Planning Department and the co-operation of our Councillor to uphold the public interest.
Effectively the community is unable to shape its future in the current system that is antidemocratic (see OMB attachment).
Urban Design Guidelines for Long Branch – Walking Tour
The Long Branch Long Walk took place on the evening of June 28 2016. Here is my synopsis.
We are indebted to the Planning Department and Councillor Grimes for initiating the Urban Design Guidelines for Long Branch.
Whatever else it has done is getting communications going to try to address the issues.
What I learned both from analytically looking at developments and talking with citizens and staff on the walk was:
– it is a long walk from one corner of Long Branch at Lake Prom and 41st Street to the diametrically opposite corner and then have to return by foot!
– the consultants S vN are strongly collaborative in approach as are the Urban Design staff.
– the issue is hot. Of a total of 36 members on the Advisory Committee over 50 showed up!
– the half dozen or so resident/developers feel threatened both for their accommodation (most of them live in houses for a year to avoid capital gains tax) and their livelihood.
– they are blind to the character of the neighbourhood and focus on their own site and on their own designs.
– Sabrina Salatino, to her credit, stepped in firmly a couple of times to quell unproductive arguments.
– there is an array of views from the public from those who feel all new development is insensitive to ones who are prepared to compromise significantly.
– new houses with considerable extra density often have strong impacts on abutting houses in terms of views, privacy, light and sunlight, not to mention loss of trees in back yards.
– there is strong agreement that presenting a three storey elevation to the street is not in character pretty well everywhere in Long Branch, especially on narrow houses and basically this should be stopped.
– virtually every new twin built could have been improved significantly by better architectural treatment. This bodes well for Community Forums but the COA and OMB are not equipped to handle these fine grain issues.
– such things as recessed garages, limiting double or wide garage entrances, garage doors, steps, 3 dimensional facades (which many twins have), greater contrast in facade design, pitched roofs sloping back from the eaves, dropping eaves lower, combining gardens in the centre of twins with driveways at the edges, minimising tarmac, picking up local details etc
– Urban Design Planning staff are not consulted on controversial applications such as 9 Meaford
– a small and dedicated group of Urban Design staff and residents managed to find enough energy to look at Meaford Avenue and found a low density low profile street on wide lots undisturbed by jarring development. This was the Shamrock situation a couple of years ago. The Planning Department are to be congratulated on fighting the destruction of character which is taking place on Shamrock Avenue.
– only Meaford Avenue houses (and spaces) should be seen as the priority for judging fit and harmony as was reinforced in OPA 320. Houses on 23rd, 25th and City Road are basically irrelevant. They are outside the microneighbourhood of nearby properties.
– the simple test that determines whether a proposal needs analysis for fit is whether there are houses on the street that are exceeded. If the proposed lots are the smallest on the street , if the houses have more storeys than other houses on the street, the houses are set forward more than any other house on the street and narrow gap between houses (which tends to be useless) then they should not be approved. Density is more to do with impact on abutting neighbours.
It was a historic night for the neighbourhood in that Long Branch is being looked at as a whole.
I will be filling out the form handed out focusing on specific issues later.
Thank you again for all those responsible and participating in the Long Branch Urban Design Study.
MINTO DEVELOPMENT 3580 Lake Shore Blvd (west of the Beer Store)
In response to the market, Minto Developments are increasing the number of stacked townhouses and reducing the number of condo apartments.
This also involves a major improvement to the frontage along Lake Shore Blvd. with a reduction of height from 8 storeys to 5 storeys.
Local architect Arthur Muskovitch has designed a graceful frontage with vertical emphasis. Street level commercial will have three storeys of residential immediately above and a further floor set back.
The Planning Department, the Councillor and the public have worked together with Minto to come up with a win win situation.
Summary Status of Applications in Long Branch
Applications for July 7 2016 Committee of Adjustment (Thursday)
16 25th Street
9 Meaford Avenue (severance see above)
93 Lake Promenade
20 Elton (severance)
7 26th St
3580 Lake Shore Blvd
Next Meeting August 4 2016
82 27th Street (severance)
48 Elder (severance)
157 30th Street (severance)
Appealed to Ontario Municipal Board
20 Garden Place (severance)
30 36th Street (severance)
2 Ash Avenue (severance)
80 23rd Street (severance)
4/5 July 10 am, OMB Offices 56/58 Ash (severances)
7 July 10 am, OMB Offices 9 Atherton (severance)
I am an independent retired planner who is trying to achieve an equitable planning process.
I have been helping residents in Long Branch and elsewhere with planning issues pro bono since 2006 when my Committee of Adjustment terms were finished.
I am not a member of the LBNA or for that matter the Lawn Signs group.
Please keep me in touch with anything that you think my 100 or so recipients might wish to know.
[End of text from David Godley <email@example.com>]
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