Conserving Long Branch – August 2016 Update from David Godley
The following message is from David Godley of Long Branch:
Summer Greetings form Long Branch
11 Walnut, Variances. Scheduled Sept. 1, 2016 Committee of Adjustment (COA)
5 Ramsgate, Severance and variance for soldier houses (3 storey soldier houses 0.35 to 0.69 density) [Note from Jaan Pill: Soldier house is a local expression for a very narrow house, standing tall at attention on a very narrow lot. The soldier house usually also takes up most of the back yard of the lot.]
5 31st St, Severances and Variances for soldier houses (3 storey soldier houses 0.35 to 0.59 density)
40 37th St, Severances and Variances for soldier houses (3 storey soldier houses 0.35 to 0.69 density)
22 33rd St, Severances and Variances for soldier houses
July 7, 2016 decisions at COA
93 Lake Promenade, 9 Meaford, 20 Elton DEFERRED for further input
16 25th Approved
This information is not available for Etobicoke York on line currently so no details are given.
The change over to digital applications will improve service soon so that elevations can be viewed online.
Committee of Adjustment Staff will make the information available at their counter in the interim.
August 4, 2016 agenda at COA
2 Shamrock. Severance and variances for two 3 storey soldier houses from 0.35 density to 0.62.(4pm). This could mean 6 soldier houses in a row since 4 Shamrock has been appealed to the OMB (October 17 hearing).
78 29th St, Variances to increase a single house in an area of bungalows to 3 storeys and density of 0.72 from 0.35.(5pm)
The neighbourhood has been shocked by Planning Department’s comments on 9 Meaford severance and variances.
The Department has no concerns about two 3 storey soldier houses at 0.70 (double the density permitted) on a low density street.
This issue has become a lightening rod for Planning’s future role. Is this a “one off” or a new strategy.
This is particularly surprising in view of the Planning Act’s recent inclusion that “A sense of Place” is now a consideration for all planning issues.
In addition the OMB have twice ruled that where a proposal exceeds a feature of an area eg 3 storey compared to existing 2 storey, this does not match the test of respecting and reinforcing character.
This is referred to as the “parameters” test.
July 29, 2016 letter from David Godley [headings have been added, for ease of online reading]
Hello Neil and Jill,
Trust you are making the most of our summer weather.
Thank you for Jennifer Keesmaat’s letter dated 11 July [see below] and undertaking presence of Urban Design staff at the 9 Meaford community forum.
I am still trying to come to terms with the consistency of the 9 Meaford Planning comments. I am sending this letter without full information as to why the comments seem so different to previously. If I have made incorrect assumptions please let me know.
9 Meaford Avenue
I suspect the change of direction in Planning Department comments (on 9 Meaford) must have come from an administrative source.
I also suspect this is a new strategy rather than a “one off”. The community will be interested in Planning comments on future applications.
I can see the Department and the City is making limited headway with the OMB in that 70% of refusals supported by Department (and local community) have been approved by the OMB (erroneously in my opinion). The OMB therefore is responsible for lots of valuable planner time having little impact.
The old axiom that appearance/aesthetics is not part of planning is rampant at the OMB because they have little comprehension of urban design.
Urban Design policy in Official Plan
There are 11 pages of policy on Urban Design in the Official Plan and the Neighbourhood policies are mostly about the third dimension.
Planners also often do not have urban design training, especially the development-oriented planners; or they are hiding it well!
There is no input from the City’s Urban Design section on severance and variance applications.
So the whole thrust of the Official Plan, including direction of density away from neighbourhoods, is being lost. And so is the character of Long Branch.
Leaking basements, underground streams
Another issue raising its head in Long Branch is that there is an overall problem with leaking basements due to underground streams, so much so that owners have to pay increased insurance premiums. I believe this has been taken up by our Councillor.
However there is cause for hope in that we now have an enlightened chief executive at the helm of ELTO and therefore OMB. [Note from David Godley in response to question from Jaan Pill: ELTO (Environmental and Land Tribunals of Ontario) is the umbrella group for OMB, Assessment Review Board, etc.]
Bruce Krushelnicki is actively participating in the Province’s Review of the OMB, even proactively initiating consultations of his own. There is a possibility of real change.
Local Appeal Board process
Also the LAB process should kick in shortly and promises to be fairer. Repeat refusals in line with the Official Plan would staunch the flow of new applications.
In OMB decisions PL151145 and 150665 there is an analysis on character respect and reinforcement.
Both decisions draw on the parameters of the existing neighbourhood development and find that going beyond the parameters is not in accordance with the Official Plan.
For example if there are no 3 storey houses in an area of consideration then a three storey house does not meet respect and reinforcement of neighbourhood character.
The community depend almost entirely on the Planning Department to be able to shape their neighbourhood.
At present the citizen, who is most impacted, has the least say.
The Planning Department having no concerns about applications, such as 3 storey soldier houses, leaves the community, the Councillor and the overall City in the lurch.
If the “U turn” comments are based on administration then at least the Department’s stand should be neutral.
Defense of Official Plan
Perhaps increase in severance application fees could enable staff to carry on defending the Official Plan.
Without Planning staff attending appeal hearings the Department has no accountability.
Also for specific staff I believe they are having to compromise their planning principles.
I am still pushing for detached houses with secondary suites as a solution to splitting lots.
Affordable housing and one person households with “accessibility” are the needs of the future.
25% of households here are single and increasing; in Scandanavia they are heading towards 50%.
A single person suite with verandah in a neighbourhood is the socially acceptable solution. In addition there is no incentive for an applicant to compromise at a community forum.
Prospects for Urban Design Guidelines Study
Any recommendations from the Urban Design Guidelines Study will be emaciated.
I am particularly interested in the process. Without a sound process we will never have sound planning.
Sometimes it seems like one step forward, two steps back.
If you have any information or comments that could help I would appreciate receiving them.
401 Lake Promenade
Toronto M8W 1C3
[End of text]
Letter from Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner and Executive Director, City of Toronto, to David Godley regarding 9 Meaford Avenue
Click below to access the letter as a PDF file:
Letter to David Godley – 9 Meaford Avenue-2
The text reads:
401 Lake Promenade
Toronto, ON M8W 1C3
July 11, 2016
Dear Mr. Godley:
Committee of Adjustment Application for 9 Meaford Avenue (B29/16EYK, A338/16EYK and A339/16EYK)
Thank you for your email dated June 30, 2016. I understand through communication with West District Planning staff that this was a very difficult application and that much thought and consideration went into arriving at the position. I appreciate your concern and want to assure you that a fulsome review was undertaken against all of the relevant policies in the Official Plan, including in particular, Section 4.1.5. Staff also reviewed the application for conformity with the new Neighbourhoods policies adopted through Official Plan Amendment No. 320.
Although Staff were of the view that the application met the requirements outlined in the Planning Act, due to the community concern in Long Branch, staff recommended a deferral for a community meeting, which the Committee of Adjustment concurred with at the July 7, 2016 hearing. This will provide members of the community an opportunity to discuss concerns and potential revisions with the applicant. Your point regarding involving Urban Design staff is well taken. Urban Design staff will assist at the upcoming community meeting (date to be determined).
I am very pleased to hear that the Neighbourhood Urban Design Guidelines Pilot Project in Long Branch is off to a great start. I truly appreciate your participation in this important initiative. The design guidelines will assist neighbourhood associations, community groups, home owners, and land owners interested in redevelopment as well as City Staff, the Committee of Adjustment and City Council in assessing future proposals in terms of how they will ‘fit’ with the context and existing neighbourhood character.
Thank you for your continued involvement. Your participation is valued and is of great assistance.
Jennifer Keesmaat, MES, MCIP, RPP
Chief Planner and Executive Director
City Planning Division
c, John Livey, Deputy City Manager
[End of text]
Previous posts regarding Long Branch Urban Design Guidelines Pilot Project
How to read the streets of Long Branch: Urban Design Guidelines Pilot Project is now underway
Urban Design Guidelines Pilot Project has been launched in Long Branch
Please spread the word among your neighbours regarding situation involving property damage along Long Branch Avenue
Neighbourhood Urban Design Guidelines Template, “How To” Manual and Pilot Project
You can find additional posts by searching for “Long Branch Urban Design Guidelines” at the Preserved Stories website.
Previous posts regarding 9 Meaford Avenue
Click here for previous posts regarding 9 Meaford Avenue >
Among the latter posts is a post entitled:
Options regarding Photoshop overlays depicting severance proposals related to Committee of Adjustment & OMB meetings
I would like to get involved. I find the “soldier houses” on split lots very sad and the terrible view-ruining monstrosities, especially like the one at the east end of Lake Promenade and the several going up on Cumberland (in Port Credit) tragic. While I don’t think there should be restrictions on the design of house (no one should judge another’s personal taste) I think the height and width should be tightly controlled. If someone wants a three storey home with 12 foot ceilings then they must cough up the money to build underground. Period.
Your posting said that 16-25th St application for change was approved.
That was where I grew up. My parents made the first ever changes to the house from about 1948-53. The current residents have part pictures of what it looked like originally. How do I find out what was approved? I am just curious and interested. I remember how it did look in the first place, both outside and inside. I gave the current owners several pictures and a write up of the people there at the time.
Good to read your message. Wonderful to know of your connection to the house! I will check on details on what was approved and will get back to you. It will take about a week as I have other projects also that I’m working on.
[With thanks to David Godley, we were able to get the information to Beverlie quickly; it took us much less time than a week. Thank you, David!]