May 2017 Update from David Godley: Committee of Adjustment & related topics

The following update is from David Godley, a retired urban planner and former member of the Committee of Adjustment:

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1) Status of applications
2) Committee of Adjustment Changes (see 9 38th attachment on integrity commission route to rein in members)
3) Etobicoke Lakeshore Press
4) 24 33rd Street OMB hearing
5) 55 Long Branch Avenue

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1) Status of applications

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Severance Applications and Variances from 6 April Committee of Adjustment

32 36th Street, (1) 3 storey buildings, soldier houses 0.35 to 0.91 density. Far too high a density. If 30 32nd is approved a new area of character destruction will be started. (Deferred)

20 Daisy (1) 2 storey house 0.35 to 0.53 (Approved)

23 35th addition to heritage building 2 storeys with good design facing Park but affecting abutting properties. (Approved)

39 27th Street. New 2 storey house 0.35 density to 0.39 (Approved)

16 41st Street 2 storey modern 0.35 density to 0.61 (Approved)

62 30th Street. 3 storey modern 0.35 density to 0.84 (Deferred)

119 22nd Street. 3 storey soldier house, 0.35 density to 0.95 with side yard set back of 4 inches. (Approved)

Severance Applications from 4 May Committee of Adjustment

9 38th Street. A revised application from February 2016. 2 storey traditional and ultra modern on 25 feet frontage lots from 0.35at 0.56 density in a solid area of wide lots.

29 Lake Promenade. 2 storey new house, no density change.

99 27th Street (2) 3 storey detached 0.35 to 1.18 – a non-fit proposal at over 3 times density where the character is rapidly becoming that of Brampton North.

People in this area have now faced 6 OMB hearings with 2 outstanding. This is equivalent to harassment by the planning system. Talk about an aggressive application – this takes the biscuit.

Yet it was turned down only 2 to 1. Committee of Adjustment member Gulli supported it demonstrating he has no place on the Committee of Adjustment. He simply has his own agenda and ignores all planning and legal matters. He is blatantly undermining civic policies. He will therefore be the subject of an Integrity Commission Probe.

People in this area and parts of the rest of Long Branch are effectively the subject of psychological warfare which has been created by the OMB. Citizens are suffering physically and psychologically. Mayor Tory stands aside and ignores real people. See attached. [See attached items in Comments below.]

Severance Applications for 9 May Committee of Adjustment

56 31st Street. Modern 2 storey new house, density 0.35 to 0.55.

32 28th St 2 storey 0.35 density to 0.70. Planning recommend deferral

Outstanding Committee of Adjustment Applications

51 Elder Street. 3 storey house density 0.35 to 0.98. 1 June COA

38 36th Street. 3 storey soldier houses 0.35 density to 0.70. 29 June COA.

8 Branch Avenue. Classic split for 2 soldier houses, 0.35 density to 0.98 (very high) plus increase in height 31 feet to 37 feet. 24 August COA

75 James Street. Postponed but can be revived at any time. No details

303 Lake Promenade. Deck 4 sm to 97 sm (2600% increase!) 1 June COA

31 Fairfield Road. increase in density from 0.35 to 0.63. 29 June COA

If you wish to look at all the material online go to “City of Toronto” “Development Applications” “Committee of Adjustment” “Ward 6” “Search” and follow the cues.

OMB Hearings, a long List

30 36th Street. Decision to approve severance and deny variances (see attached)

80 Twenty Third Street, January 4 2017. Awaiting Decision

68 Daisy Avenue, 73 4 storey townhouse units, February 24 2017. Prehearing Conference for 1 day held. Hearing Day 10 October 2017

2 Shamrock Avenue, March 8 2017 Approved. Residents did not show as they are demoralised by taking time off work, being abused and ignored.

82 Twenty Seventh Street, March 21 2017 Awaiting Decision

9 Meaford , April 11 2017 No planner on board. Awaiting Decision

5 31st, 28 March 2017 Approved

5 Ramsgate, 16 May 2017 Good Luck Judy andResidents

20 Elton, 28 March 2017 Awaiting Decision

24 33rd, 1/2 May 2017 No planner on board Awaiting Decision

40 37th, 18 April 2017 Awaiting Decision

14 Villa, July 17 2017

34 27th, 15 May 2017 Good Lick Eileen and Residents

160 30th, 28 June 2017

55 Long Branch Avenue, PL170469. Awaiting hearing date.

Status can be checked on OMB website under E status, Toronto but no index is given so you need to scroll down/up entries.

2) Committee of Adjustment

Posting is required for notice of hearings on front lawns. Research requests for Committee of Adjustment decisions can now be made online. Record numbers of applications have been submitted to the Etobicoke York Committee of Adjustment.
2016 is the first time 1000 applications have been processed. The first few months of 2017 indicate the rate of submission is increasing.

The new service enables users to search for a property and to request up to 10 years of Committee of Adjustment decisions from the surrounding area for a fee.

A resident also wrote

For those interested, the Toronto Committee of Adjustment has launched its online research request portal. You can access it here:

Committee of Adjustment (CofA)

The portal can be helpful in identifying similar consent or variance applications that were approved in the area of a site. It allows you to obtain Committee decisions from the last 10 years for properties within a 500m or 1000m radius. The decisions can be filtered by application type (minor variance or consent) and by outcome (approved, approved with conditions, or refused).

You can conduct a search for free, but ordering the decisions costs $150 for a 500m radius and $300 for a 1000m radius.

Nearly all appeals emanating from the Committee of Adjustment will now end up on TLAB’s desk.

If you notice Susanne Pringle, the Etobicoke/York “boss” has a spring in her step it is because she is contemplating retirement in a few months time. She has served the City dutifully for 35 years. Congratulations Susanne.

3) Etobicoke Lakeshore Press

The April edition contained an article by Mary Marello, Real Estate Agent, encouraging owners to sell to developers. My response is attached which I hope Lakeshore Press will publish.

4) 24 33rd Street,

Report from 655, May, 1 and 2, Severance for semis

Siamese soldier houses, change from existing zoning for detached house 0.35 density to semis 0.79 densities.

No outside planner was secured for the OMB hearing after 3 approaches by Legal. All planning consultants seem to have migrated to the development sector. The Planning Department did a 180 degree turn, suddenly supporting what they had criticised previously – on the day before the hearing without explanation.

Franco Romano did his usual “glossing over” presentation” missing the parts of the OP that were awkward for him. He contends that only land use comprises urban design character. Appears to have zero aesthetic appreciation. If the OMB disagrees with his urban design take he is going to be on a sticky wicket. His professional unit should be made aware.

If Richard Jones, the former planning director for Barrie and hearing officer, decides he going to be a Richard rather than a Dick, it would help all soldier house hearings before TLAB. I would be surprised if this is approved in totality, but look at Trump and Brexit. 6 residents appeared and here is a comment from one of them, not me.

Nick gave up a day’s pay to attend on Monday. And he worked very hard for a week on his written presentation and taking all the photos.

Sandy and Alex were relentless in pursuing City Planning, Councillor, Heritage Staff and City lawyer to get their attention and assistance for this hearing, and they were up all Monday night, typing two fingers on the computer to re-write and add to their statements.

David (Nick’s neighbour), and everyone was very articulate on the witness stand, and stood firm on what was occurring in the neighbourhood, the lot splitting, and that they want it to stop and regulations upheld.

I was very proud to be on this TEAM.

My own long-read evidence attached.

5) 55 Long Branch Avenue

A tale of woe attached.

Feel free to forward anything that may be of interest for June’s newsletter.

– David

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Note from Jaan Pill re: Attached files from May 2017 Update from David Godley

In the Comments section below, I will post the text of each of David Godley’s May 2017 attached files. I will post them in alphabetical order by file name.

It will take me an hour or so to post the attached files, after the main post has been published. I am using the comments section as otherwise the main body of the post become too large for easy reading.

After I have posted the Comments, I will work out the spacing. It will take me a while.

Please note that the contents of Comments are not, so far as I know, able to be located  through a Google search or through a search using this website’s internal search engine.

Topics:

  1. 55 Long Branch
  2. 9 38th Street Appeal
  3. The file is entitled: “2433omb.doc”
  4. 30 36th Street
  5. Lot Splitting

Note regarding searching for applications at Committee of Adjustment website

You can find the details regarding the Minor Variance application for an application such as, by way of example, 55 Long Branch Ave. by going to the City of Toronto website and looking for the Application Information Centre.

Once you are at the latter page, you have to click on the “Committee of Adjustment” button, located at the top of the page, and you’re ready to do your search.

Initially, when I went to the page in question, I didn’t notice the detail regarding the two buttons at the top of the page. For that reason, I initially ended up doing a search for the default choice that’s in place, at the top of the page.

The default choice is “Community Planning,” but that’s not what you are looking for.

Also, there’s a field where you need to specify whether the address is an “Avenue,” “Road,” “Street,” etc. I have the sense that needs to be filled in, before you will get the results.

I mention this because, given that it took me a while t find my way around, it’s possible that at least a few other people will encounter some similar, initial, challenges, when looking for details about an application such as, by way of example, 55 Long Branch Ave.

 

7 replies
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    [55 Long Branch Ave.]

    Dear Councillor Grimes,

    A young couple have recently bought 55A Long Branch Avenue and moved into the neighbourhood. They had a very nasty shock when they returned from a recent trip.

    Not only had they been away when the notices for an application for 55 Long Branch Avenue had been sent out but the decision had been made by the Committee of Adjustment.

    The short turn around time has been an issue ever since the rule of thumb of 10% for a variance started edging up.

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    The proposal is for more than 100% increase in density permitted for the house to the south, #55. The 2 storey addition proposed would block off access to the sun to the back yard of #55A dramatically, probably making it sunless all day.
    The sideyard adjacent to their house is far too narrow. The incorrectly labelled north elevation (marked south elevation) will be a long two storey high blank wall right up against the back yard of 55A.
    The zero setback for eaves is unacceptable and was never passed by the Committee of adjustment during my two terms for good reason.
    First there is impact from malfunctioning troughs, secondly there is no satisfactory access for maintenance or construction and thirdly eliminating a variance has been found to be not a variance in case law.

    Details are, of course, on the City of Toronto Development Applications website.

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    Their initial letter to you and the reply is below.

    They had no alternative but to lodge an appeal on the grounds that it is a major in size and impact.

    As you know the Committee of Adjustment, of late, make decisions unrelated to the Planning and Legal framework.

    I am therefore requesting you to take this matter to Council to secure a legal and planning representative to protect the City’s interest in good planning and ensure due process.
    By dealing with the matter early we should be more successful in obtaining planning help.
    My understanding is that the Planning Department did not comment.

    The young couple, with their small child, are in a great state of anxiety. They would have not purchased if they were aware the proposed development had any opportunity of being built.
    They would at least like to get back to relative normality by having the process in place.

    I have copied those in the neighbourhood who will be concerned about this issue as well as Planning Department staff.
    I know you are always very busy but would appreciate if you could treat this as a priority.

    Hope to hear from you soon about how you can take this matter forward. And so too do the appellants!
    Please let me know if there is any other information you need.

    All the best, David

    Reply
  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    9 38th Appeal request to Councillor Mark Grimes May 5 2017
    Dear Mark,
    You may well have heard by now that 9 38th street applications were approved in their entirety and unanimously.
    This letter is a request that you take immediate steps to authorise attendance of the Planning and Legal Departments through Council to defend the City position.
    While Planning recommended “deferral” they oppose the current applications.
    As well I believe you have to contact the Legal Department to launch the appeal within now 19 days.
    Please keep those copied in close touch with each step so they have the confidence that the matter will be before TLAB.
    I have been dealing with panciked people over weekends trying to find out if appeals were lodged

    We appreciate having a Councillor so supportive of the residents against the destruction of neighbourhood character.

    My comments on the application are attached for your reference along with offerings from the “appalled” residents.
    David

    Yesterdays COA meeting. May 4 2017
    I attended about 3 hours of the COA meeting where Smithies moved the application and was supported by Gulli, Clark and Shepherd.
    The Committee of Adjustment no longer observe the legal and planning framework. They have abandoned their roles representing the City. They simply accommodate market forces. A good example of lunatics in charge of the asylum!

    They all should be suspended or removed. The neighbourhood will be investigating their status with the Integrity Commission/Ombudsman.

    9 38th is by no means an isolated case. Gulli even supported soldier houses for 99 27th Street at over 3 times density. This was despite a brilliant presentation by Lori, opposing, where the whole room clapped. Clark stated that if the density had been double approval would have been a slam dunk. Such preposterous statements illustrate how removed from reality these people are. The planning system is wreaking severe psychological damage on the neighbourhood as well as destroying the the protection built into the zoning by law and Official Plan for those who bought into “Muskoka South”. Similar ignorance by the committee was demonstrated for other applications outside Ward 6 such as 18 Darlington, 76 Superior and 10 Robinhood. The last was even described by the agent as an aggressive proposal. Then there is the issue of 55 Long Branch Avenue. I do not believe the Committee has ever turned down an application when no residents appear. This in itself shows bad faith. The Committee wasted hours trying to figure out several changes done either hours or days before the meeting (one had a garage bricked in with no access) so people were either not even aware changes had taken place and certainly did not know of the significance. Such applications should be immediately deferred. The cameras in the room have worked wonders. Committee members remained calm, respectful and helpful. It was just that their decisions were irrational and untenable. This is a case to which the Mayor should respond as it is severely damaging to the reputation of the City. David

    We will support an appeal as well.

    John & Zoe Berdeklis

    Sent from my iPad

    On May 4, 2017, at 10:40 PM, madeleine wrote:
    I will support an appeal. I find it a disgrace that we are subject to capricious de facto changes to the by-laws without any stated guiding principles, without consistency, by an unelected body in the absence of public discussion. I would appeal to the TLAB to resolve the discrepancies in the process so the expectations of the public and developers can be set and met by the public process.
    Madeleine Pengelley
    Birds and Beans Inc

    They approved the whole thing. Seven of us were there and spoke against it, but it was almost as if they had made their minds up before hand.
    Smithies was the one to propose approval. Saying the application especially lot size was in keeping, despite the lot size analysis which showed the opposite.

    Very frustrating
    Jane
    On 05/05/2017 1:05 AM, RONALD JAMIESON wrote:
    This is appalling!

    It is hard for me to understand how the COA can view the lot size as in keeping with the neighbourhood character – especially since all the abutting properties to 9 Thirty Eighth are 50 foot lots. I always thought the most important determinant of character, and one of the tests of the validity of a severance application, was the size of adjacent or abutting lots.

    I feel like we have been jerked around by the COA.

    According to the architect, who I spoke with after the previous aborted hearing, he had informed the COA his client wanted to defer because he had not posted his statutory notices, and that they would not be attending. As I recall, there were about a dozen of us who went to that hearing in March – some of whom had to take time off work – and we had to wait nearly two hours to be informed the hearing was to be deferred. The secretary of the COA ran through a roster of items on the agenda to determine who was there as applicants and who was there in opposition and it was not until after that list had been read out that an official announcement was made about deferment.

    The CofA KNEW IN ADVANCE the applicant would not be there and yet they kept us all waiting. This certainly is NOT the way to treat the taxpayers who underwrite the salaries of CofA members.

    What purpose does the CofA serve if it ignores opposition and evidence that suggests a severance application not wanted by the neighbourhood nor consistent with basic urban planning principles in making a decision such as this. How many opposing neighbours does it take to attend a CofA meeting to overturn a severance application? From this experience, it seems 7 to 12 opposing votes are not enough.

    Councillor Grimes, can we please have your help to organize full legal opposition top this decision.

    Sincerely,

    Ron Jamieson, P.Eng.
    10 Thirty Eighth Street

    On Friday, May 5, 2017 4:24 AM, David Godley wrote:

    I am very sorry to hear this Jane and was not really expecting this. And after all the effort you and the neighbours put in including a false alarm last time. The Committee wasted hours trying to deal with matters where changes had been made hours or days before behind the back of those affected. All should have been deferred.

    Thank you for letting me know. This is a reflection on how bad the Committee of Adjustment are. They simply ignore City policies and this time they ignore Planning staff as well. Surprised that Smithies moved this.
    Clearly the community have to fight this as a travesty of justice. Our Councillor strongly opposed the applications.

    We should immediately request Mark to obtain Council approval to defend the application at TLAB where we probably stand a better chance than the singularly inept OMB.
    If I receive positive feedback from any of you I will send the letter tomorrow.
    There are only 20 days to appeal and Legal have to put a package together post haste and pay the almost $1000 fee.
    So the quicker the better. Daniel Fleming has been through this process a number of times before.

    However you need to monitor every move so it does not slip through anyone’s fingers. Keep constantly in touch with Daniel.
    You may know I will be away May 10 to 30, so the appeal has to be lodged before my return.

    The hearing may not be for a couple of months but it will be one of the first TLAB hears.
    Their policy is to create all the evidence up front. They have time limits and processes which I can deal with when I get back.
    I plan to attend and maybe give evidence based on my hearing on 24 33rd which will be covered in my Update tomorrow.

    Many in the neighbourhood have been through this before. There is a good support system and I have copied some of these people.

    Once again it is sad to think that in a supposedly civilised country this sort of corruption is prevalent.
    This is not over yet and the clear intention of zoning and Official Plan may well bring victory.

    David

    On 04/05/2017 8:25 PM, Jane Addis wrote:

    They approved the whole thing. Seven of us were there and spoke against it, but it was almost as if they had made their minds up before hand.
    Smithies was the one to propose approval. Saying the application especially lot size was in keeping, despite the lot size analysis which showed the opposite.

    Very frustrating
    Jane
    Long Branch has some issues related to Committee of Adjustment decisions
    Posted on May 4, 2017 by Jaan Pill
    In a previous post, I discussed a particular issue related to the Committee of Adjustment, on a particular street in Long Branch.
    Not being acquainted with all of the details related to the case, I will omit the particulars of the case and instead will share the following comments.
    I have heard many bad-news stories (bad news from my perspective as a resident) related to the Committee of Adjustment and the Ontario Municipal Board – each with unique details, and yet identical in fundamental features – in recent years.
    My personal view is that – unlike Lakeview and Port Credit to the west of us at the City of Mississauga, which in terms of city-wide and local political leadership, and decision-making related to planning issues, are exemplars of fully functioning neighbourhoods – Long Branch is now, by contrast to other neighbourhoods, beyond question in a state of acute and spectacular dysfunction.
    In particular with regard to coherence in relation to planning decisions, we as residents are living in a situation that demonstrates the hallmarks of a failed state.
    Many have already left Long Branch; more will be leaving
    Those who can, are leaving. A number of people, who in the past have been active in the community, have already left. Based on what I know about their approach to civic engagement, I know they will bring much of value to the communities where they have moved to. They have moved away, following experiences related to the Committee of Adjustment and the OMB.
    What will remain, for those who have left the community, are great memories of a Long Branch that was in the past a great place to live.
    People come and go for all kinds of reasons in any community.
    From online discussions with a good number of them, over the years, I’m aware that many former residents of Long Branch now live in communities across Canada.
    I’m pleased that, in a small way, the Preserved Stories website serves as a way that previous Long Branch residents can keep in touch with each other, and share a few cherished stories and photos, about the days gone by.
    In some cases, people with a previous connection with Long Branch have renewed acquaintances, sometimes a half-century later, as a result of local-history posts at this website.
    I am very pleased each time that happens.
    New residents in Long Branch will, in turn, have experiences in the here and now that will be unique, and in many cases, rewarding.
    Do your research; do your due diligence
    That said, prospective residents who are currently contemplating purchasing in Long Branch are advised to do more than a little research. Some things you can’t prepare for, even with all the due diligence in the world. But you can look at the track record for things like so-called Minor Variances. In Long Branch, the record is incessantly and spectacularly abysmal.
    That is to say, prospective purchasers are strongly advised to find out what has been happening across the neighbourhood in recent years, in order to get a sense of what they may be encountering.

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    One Response to Long Branch has some issues related to Committee of Adjustment decisions
    1. David Godley says:
    May 5, 2017 at 7:38 am
    Spectacular and abysmal dysfunction is an understatement
    Reply

    Reply
  3. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    [The file is entitled: 2433omb.doc.]

    I am representing the neighbourhood point of view and attempting to tell the Long Branch story. The neighbourhood has many front lawn signs opposing such severances as the subject property. Perspective is needed to explain the complete issue.

    Proposal
    Proposal to allow 2 severed undersized lots 25 feet wide by 100 feet long to be used for semi detached houses: major variances:
    1) Density 0.78 & 0.79 from 0.60 (31%), currently 0.35 (+126%) Lot is limited to 0.35 density without severance
    2) 2500 sq. feet from 3500 square feet. (-28%) lots need to be larger
    3) 25 feet wide from 33 feet (-24%) lot is not wide enough
    4) First floor height of 8 feet from 4 feet, allowing an extra floor and increased massing (+100%). To allow an extra floor, now 3 floors, facing the street.
    5) 23 feet from 37 feet front yard setback. (-32%) To allow house to be further forward on the lot.
    Plus a height limit of 29.5 feet for detached to 36 feet for semi.
    All these figures are large in the context of say adding 31% to house, 31% to a mortgage, 31% to the population.
    The minor change to the landscaping is a pointer to the development being too dense.

    Background
    The South Long Branch neighbourhood has a unique history in that it was a cottage and recreational area for Toronto 100 years ago. Bungalow style cottages were built over time. There was a hotel and a pier for visitors by boat. During the 20th century traditional urban housing was built. This was mostly low density bungalows, one and a half story and two storey detached housing. The majority of the area is made up of 50 feet or more wide lots. Some division took place and minority uses such as semi detached, duplexes, triplexes and small apartments were added. The size of lots and frontage category is shown on Map A. The majority of the area has preserved its well treed ambience with plenty of green space. The 1950s zoning remains to reflect the original character and conserve it for the future as a basically lower density single family neighbourhood with a good tree canopy.

    The Current Situation
    There is a mixture of styles but within well defined parameters. Soldier houses, 3 storey narrow, tall and about double density are new to the neighbourhood and are entirely alien. Certainly there is no stability in the neighbourhood as development like the proposal and eg 39 33rd Street are popping up throughout the neighbourhood without any rhyme or reason.

    These are the standard “Brampton-subdivision” development design based on speculation and profit. Long Branch has had 100 similar houses built in 5 years, many by the OMB overturning local decisions. During 2014-16 Ward 6 had 68 severance applications accompanied by variances. The next highest figure was 25 for a Ward 23 (Willowdale). Long Branch has most of the severances within Ward 6 and in contrast to other Wards is having an increased number of such applications. Long Branch is “Severance Central”. This means character is changing at one of the fastest paces in Canada

    Approvals have devastated the “Muskoka South” type of character that is so valued by the community and the City. The Planning Act, the Official Plan and the Zoning bylaw have been overridden continuously through lack of policy intent understanding especially of urban design. No soldier house in Long Branch should have been approved. People are justifiably angry at the contemptuous way they are treated. Some people have left the area and others are living in areas more akin to a building site. Long Branch citizens seem to be treated as second or even third class compared to central Etobicoke.

    Provincial Policies
    Provincial Policies are irrelevant for such applications as this is basically a small zoning change masquerading as variances to zoning. The Official Plan conforms to Provincial Policies and is the key policy document.

    Official Plan 2006
    Section 1.1, 2. Making Choices
    A vibrant and modern city with “beauty” is one of four basic visions. A principle is “beautiful architecture and excellent urban design that astonish and inspire.” A statement on beauty is that “all successful cities astonish with their human made and natural beauty. People choose to live and businesses choose to invest in beautiful cities.”
    This has never been presented at the dozen hearings I have attended in Long Branch nor has it been mentioned in any decision. Yet it is the basis of the City strategy.

    Policies include directing intensification away from designated neighbourhoods such as Long Branch to Avenues (Lakeshore Blvd), Downtown and other Centres. According to the Official Plan Section of the Planning Department, “Neighbourhoods” are not for intensification. This was stated at a presentation to Toronto Local Appeal Board in February by the Planning Department. Urban Design policies take about two thirds of the OP and the intent is to conserve the aesthetic appeal of the Neighbourhood. Already well over 1000 new residential units have been built recently or have approval in Long Branch.

    Minor
    The City of Toronto guide says minor is small in size as well as impact, quoting from the Vincent vs De Gasperis Divisional Court case. There is a quantative limit which was 10% as a guide for over 50 years. This is appropriate today and is the intent of the Planning Act. The guide says variances are “for proposals that do not quite fit the zoning” rather than a change to the zoning of more significance, like the current applications. The City’s definition is Small changes or exceptions to existing land use or development restrictions contained in the zoning bylaw are called minor variances. This is what the public expect. The more variances and the greater they are, the more impact. Numbers and percentage deviations are given at the beginning. If you multiply all the variances and bonuses of having a severance together you have a very large change indeed.

    Land Use
    Single houses predominate the neighbourhood. They are the only prevailing use, predominant use and that most frequently occurring. Semi detached houses are relatively rare as marked on Map A. The Official Plan defines prevailing as predominant, Section 4.2 on Building Types. OPA 320 (Approved by City Council and the Province but appealed to the OMB) clarifies that prevailing means not only predominant but also most frequently occurring. This document gives perspective to the City’s policies. It was added because of previous incorrect interpretations. Prevailing was simply interpreted as existing. Semi detached houses on lots like the proposed do not fit. Semis need lots that do not need severances and variances.

    Urban Design.
    Urban design is the third dimension of planning and a related but separate discipline to land use planning. There are separate Urban Design Sections within each of the four Community Planning Offices and an overall section as well. Many land use planners do not have the skills to deal with urban design. Urban design includes massing, dimensions of façade, roof characteristics, consistent floor datums, setbacks, fenestration, landscaping as well as overshadowing, overlook and overpowering nearby properties. All these issues are mentioned in the draft Urban Design Guidelines for Long Branch. Policy 3.1.23 of the Official Plan states “New development will be massed and its exterior façade will be designed to fit harmoniously into its existing and planned context, and will limit impacts on neighbouring uses, streets,, parks, open spaces and properties by: a) massing new buildings to frame adjacent streets and open spaces in a way that respects the existing.”

    The character of each street and each section of street is different throughout Long Branch. This is one of Long Branch’s features. Unfortunately whoever made the decision to allow soldier houses whether they be single, twin or Siamese such as the current proposal, worked on the misguided basis that the character throughout Long Branch was the same everywhere. We therefore have “Brampton Subdivision” type development, (all basically the same) being parachuted into the neighbourhood in order to maximise profits.

    Soldier houses are not part of the character of Long Branch but a blemish and should not even be part of the character evaluation. No planner who has supported soldier houses seems to understand urban design policies or their implementation. They simply say that if there is the type of house in a wide area then it is suitable for the neighbourhood, period. They say prevailing means exiting somewhere rather than the dictionary definition of predominant or most common or frequent. That means all of the neighbourhood is suitable for soldier houses on any lot in the region of 25 feet wide at double the density. All OMB decisions in the last 5 years have been approved on this precept. It is completely irrational. It is highly illogical. The premise is false. So we get “anywhere” type development “anywhere” in the neighbourhood. There is no nod the distinctive character. There is no understanding of uniqueness of each microneighbourhood. The developments approved do not blend with their surroundings or have a sympathetic or compatible style. This is not planning but a free for all.

    The most important aspect of respecting and reinforcing character (in a sensitive, harmonious and gradual way) is how the proposal relates to houses either side. They are the priority for obtaining a compatible street rhythm. But they are not the only factor. The row in which they sit is a further consideration and the microneighbourhood is another still important framework. The whole neighbourhood is important too, but the least important of the criteria.

    The broader neighbourhood character is single family on large lots at low density and with 1, 1.5 or 2 storeys. The heritage aspect of this area is not addressed. The two nearby listed heritage buildings have been ignored in any analysis despite a policy in the Official Plan for an impact statement for zoning changes. Cottage style with verandas with low, sloping roofs and rear garages is the type of building that respects and reinforces the overall character. Nothing in the proposal appears to recognise heritage factors. Protection of trees and greenery is always a factor. According to the Urban Forestry Department of the City intensification is destroying the tree canopy and greenery generally. Having semis instead of a single means getting a destruction permit from Urban Forestry which once the severance is approved has to be granted.

    In Long Branch we have a good, mature tree canopy which is depleting. We have lost legally and illegally at least 30 mature trees on private property due to soldier houses. There is simply less room for plants where intensification occurs. There may also be loss of trees by the whim of this owner or future owner. The current owners have already illegally pruned a City tree. In terms of microneighbourhood the diagrams are relevant and the facts speak for themselves. OPA 320 clarifies that all criteria, not just, building types, side and rear yard setbacks and open space should be considered as prevailing Maps B and C.

    The approval of 39 33rd by the OMB illustrates exactly why the current proposal does not fit. See D. Examples of development that have taken their cue from existing character and enhance the neighbourhood by taking neighbourhood character features and blend well into the street view. See E. A similar type of development to the houses opposite would be in keeping.

    The proposal for 24 33rd Street in terms of mass, scale, façade shape, first floor level, roof is not similar to any close-by structure or what the eye can see in a frame, other than the mistake at 39. Properties on parallel streets or further away are not relevant since they cannot be seen. So the proposal creates a jarring addition to the street which is incompatible with character conservation.

    Precedent
    All OMB decisions for soldier houses in Long Branch have been based on precedent. Fortunately this section of Long Branch had good decisions until 39 33rd. Semis were refused in 2005 for 32 33rd and with 25 and 27 the community worked with a creative developer to achieve full integration of surrounding character. A domino effect may take place if this application is approved.

    Applications are already in for 22 33rd, 26 could be next and 28 is a possibility. The more soldier houses that are approved the more they encourage more of the same. The domino effect would create a row of town house looking development totally foreign to Long Branch. Approval could lead the way to mopping up Long Branch character and replacing it with development which is designed to maximise profit and happens across the City in the same format without regard for its neighbours. This is invasive.

    Public Perceptions
    People in the neighbourhood are angry that the OMB is overriding the Committee of Adjustment in 70 % of cases while seeming to ignore everything in the Official Plan and Zoning. This was stated in a tumultuous City meeting in May 2015 where the Planning Department unsuccessfully tried to stem the tide of soldier houses by modifying processes.

    The ongoing Long Branch Urban Design Guidelines (the first of its type in the City) currently is in a draft form was one of the results. The public are supposed to be able to shape their community within the confines of what is good for the City. Some people have had to go to OMB hearings to try to protect their quality of life half a dozen times. There is great frustration with the process, in particularly its complexity, unfairness and hostile forums. This is what I have learned from the many people I meet and help.

    Public input is required through out the Planning Act on all aspects of change. In fact involving the public in something that affects them underpins democracy. Words I have heard from the public would describe #39 are eyesore, stupid, overwhelming, a proverbial sore thumb, incongruous, acne on the face of Long Branch. These are the politest terms. Basically they feel that the appeal system has failed and that their own rights of protection have been abused for the sake of profit by avaricious developers. I concur.

    OMB Solution
    A number of soldier houses have been turned down across the City. One creative invention of hearing officers is the parameter test as in PL 151145 and 150665 whereby the proposal should not exceed any aspect of the nearby existing properties. In this case density is exceeded 0.61 to 0.79, and 3 stories instead of 2. This is a crude test but one that has led to refusals. The evaluation of character is much more sophisticated. It cannot be done by people without training and needs people with urban design skills. It is up to the applicant to prove that proposals meet the legal and planning framework.

    (23) Extract from OMB file PL151145, 284 Hounslow Avenue, To.

    I also cannot overlook the 15 m frontage requirement of the existing bylaw. Although some approvals have permitted frontages of less than 15 m, none have countenanced 9.14 m. Approval of the relief sought would, in my view, give rise to a significant risk that lots similar in size to the subject property will be eliminated going forward and that such elimination would, as a result, potentially lead to a transformational shift in the character of the area.

    (17) Extract from OMB file PL150665, 151 Airdrie Road, Toronto

    A compelling case was not made by the planner why the subject property should have the status of the tallest home in the neighbourhood. The Board was not persuaded
    that the building height is not discernable to a passerby, or why the
    Applicant merits another increment in height above that earlier granted by the COA. The Board is also mindful that the approval of variances must rely on Official Plan policy as one of four tests. In this respect, returning to the policy referred in paragraph 9 of this decision, “No change” will be made by variance (or by other means) which are out of keeping with the physical character of the neighbourhood”.
    In the Board’s opinion, approval of the variance which permits the tallest house in the neighbourhood is not compliant with that policy.
    A policy which begins with the word: “No” cannot be ignored in association with an application which would establish a new benchmark for residential building height. When measured against this policy, the case for compatibility cannot be made.
    Summary
    The integrity of decisions rests on full assessment of the legal and planning framework as follows.
    A check list of matters to consider for these applications are:
    1) Can development be built under current zoning. (Application Form)
    Yes
    2) Does the proposal conform to the general intent of the Official Plan. No
    a) Does the proposal reflect “respect and reinforcement of character” as repeated in the OP a dozen times. No
    b) Is change in the neighbourhood gradual, harmonious and sensitive and does it fit the existing physical character. No
    c) Does the proposal meet the OMB’s Parameter test (see above)
    No
    d) Does the proposal reflect Policy 2 of the OP that conservation of character trumps density and demand.
    No
    e) Does the proposal reflect policy 3 of the OP reflecting and reinforcing the predominant features
    Width of lot. No
    Other features of configuration of lots No
    Width of house. No
    Number of storeys No
    Density No
    Massing/scale 1 to 2 storeys and not tall, long and narrow No
    Floor datums (floor closest to the ground) No
    Roof Lines No
    Building face No
    Stair approaches No
    Pitches of roofs No
    Garages and Driveways No
    Front entrance design No
    Lining up of front and rear setbacks No
    Other Architectural Features No
    Landscaping No
    Preservation of trees and greenery No
    Preservation of Heritage properties character No
    Is the overshadowing more than minor Yes
    Is access to light reduction more than minor Yes
    Is privacy invaded Yes
    Is the proposal overbearing on adjacent properties more than minor Yes
    Are the view impacts more than minor Yes No
    Are the cumulative impacts more than minor. Yes No

    Have all these items been addressed No
    f) Does the proposal reflect policy 4 specifically 4.1.5c -1) to respect and reinforce existing physical character “heights, massing, scale….of nearby residential properties” and are the densities, storeys, and frontages of the nearby properties reflected in the proposal. 2) Is the property right protection of neighbourhood character built into the Official Plan and zoning bylaw still intact. OPA policy 320 clarifies that all criteria will be based on prevailing which is defined as most frequently occurring.
    No to both
    g) Is the Official Plans clarification in OPA 320 (Provincial and City Policy) considered – that conservation features are prevailing, predominant and most frequently occurring particularly 4.1.5c “prevailing heights, massing,, scale, density… of nearby dwelling residential properties.”. As Urban Design experts know the there is a hierarchy of areas which need addressing for urban fit. In order of importance they are 1) the abutting houses, 2) the row of housing 3) houses close by on both sides of the road and 4) the area of neighbourhood beyond. This may be included in the Urban Design Guidelines. A more general policy is contained in OPA 320 adopted by the City and approved by the Province but appealed to the OMB.
    No
    3) Will the proposal set a precedent which could lead to a change of street or neighbourhood character, considering the OMB always use precedent to support soldier house applications.
    Yes

    4) Does the proposal comply with the definition of minor.
    “Small changes or exceptions to existing land use or development restrictions contained in the zoning bylaw are called minor variances.”
    No
    5) Are the variances small in size (De Gasperis)as well as impact.
    No
    6) Is the development desirable for the appropriate use from the public interest point of view, balancing wider city interests (of which there appear to be none) to local interests.
    No
    7) Is the general intent of the zoning (one of the lowest densities in the City) achieved particularly the ordinance to limit first floor height to achieve 2 storeys and a sense of scale and massing similar to both existing and that permitted in the zoning.
    No
    8) What is the opinion of the most severely impacted residents, the nearby residents and the neighbourhood as a whole. Section 5 of the Official Plan includes “A fair and accessible public process by encouraging participation by all segments of the population and promoting community awareness of planning issues and decisions through use of clear, understandable language.” Without this consultation a planning position is premature. Without those affected being part of any negotiation a planning decision is premature. Does the general neighbourhood and those in the locality support refusal.
    Yes
    9) Do the Planning Department support the proposal. The Planning Department did not comment. They freely admit to not commenting on proposals that they oppose because of expediency. If they did the whole system would grind to a halt with planners tied up at the OMB. The Department opposed the 39 33rd application and the subject proposal is more extreme. No
    10) The Planning Act includes a provision that a sense of place is required to be considered. Does the proposal reflect the existing facets which make up character.
    No
    11) Is the proposal premature either in planning terms or lack of information and analysis. Without this analysis and further information such as a scale drawing of the facades of the proposal and houses either side and birds eye view. We are insatisfactorily dealing with a 3 dimensional issue with 2 dimensional drawings.
    12). Are there better alternatives to the proposal which fit the legal and planning framework.
    Yes

    The neighbourhood is having its character destroyed by soldier houses such as the proposal in complete contrast to the general intent of the legal and planning framework. Soldier houses and the proposal in particular are strongly objected to by the community.

    A single family house similar to the designs across the road is the best planning solution.

    Reply
  4. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    OMB Decision on 30 36th Street PL160520
    By Stefan Krzeczunowicz, a land economist specialising in Municipal Finance.
    Why not a Land Use Planner specialising in Urban Design?
    Heard November 14 2016

    Decision. Severance approved but no increase in density above 0.35 and no reduction of sideyards. The major benefit of the decision is that his rationale can apply to all sideyards in Long Branch in the future. This may curtail the Committee of Adjustments penchant for side yard reductions too. They just made a decision to allow a new house with a 4 inch sideyard.

    Thee decision reflects the usual misunderstandings of Board members. They have no grasp of Urban Design and are given misleading information by the development planner who is highly conflicted with no qualification in Urban Design. The City Planner has some understanding but is still using for example, the administrative radius rather than City policy approved by the Province. His evidence varies from standard urban design practice.

    The City Planner put across strong points which for some reason the hearing officer ignored. The obvious one is that Provincial Policies are not relevant and that the Official Plan is the relevant policy document. Also the City planner says that although generally intensification is good that the “Neighbourhoods” designation is not a place for intensification. This should be the end of it and the application refused. The City should offer facts on the huge amount of land available in Toronto for development in order to give credibility to the stance . Just part of the Avenues area can accommodate all the development needed according to the Chief Planning Officer.

    The Hearing officer mistakenly, like other hearing officers, buys into the character being low density with exceptions which he uses as precedent. The exceptions are all the developments that the OMB and COA have approved wrongly before. Low density housing is the character as explained in OPA 320, not the exceptions. Not allowing OPA 320 to be part of the hearing means the hearing officer has no perspective.

    The OMB is inconsistent about allowing non legal documents and recently PL 14140 allows City approved documents to be entered. The result may have been a refusal had the background been considered. It is an example of where the Board get too tied up with legalities and the incorrect conclusions are reached. To anyone normal these soldier houses (3 storey on narrow lots with about double the density) are out of character. In this case he had no idea about the intent of the policies.

    Unfortunately due to political amendment OPA 320 did not give priority to the nearby area or even mention abutting houses unlike the draft Urban Design Guidelines for Long Branch. The wider neighbourhood character is only relevant for its general make up such as larger lots, lower density and one to two stories. The differing analysis between the street rhythm and impacts on nearby neighbourhoods is not acknowledged. No mention is made of the elements of urban design which need to be considered to ensure harmony such as the ground floor level, roof design, garages, contrasting design of the two houses etc which are standard urban design notions and listed in the draft Urban Design Guidelines for Long Branch (all clearly out of character).Until these urban design principles are applied we are going to be in trouble with any appeal body including the Toronto Local Appeal Body.

    However he thankfully reverses his logic when he talks about “predominantly” and high end density being rare. The City planner successfully directed attention to the nearby properties which the hearing officer took notice of unlike most decisions. This is a breakthrough and credit to the City planner and hearing officer.

    The hearing officer thinks that the alien type of development (everyone approved on precedent of the one before) must continue because this is the emerging character (although fortunately he sees the density as too high). It is actually due to increasingly erroneous decisions because of market demand which he correctly states is not a consideration.

    He gives no rationale for overturning the Committee of Adjustment’s decision. But then the Committee and Planning Department do not give rationale either. Unfortunately this is a weak addition to the Planning Act to allow more local control.

    He acknowledges space between buildings is important for massing but ignores the narrowness of lot and resulting narrow houses when considering massing. Urban design policies are not even mentioned and have a critical role. They form at least one third of the Official Plan. If he does not know the Official Plan he should not be on the case. He should be asking questions too.

    The Chair does not think the nearby area is part of the neighbourhood analysis. The 2 adjoining properties are not mentioned but, as I have said before, evidence from land use planners on urban design, the third dimension of planning, is like having plumbers undertake dentistry.

    No discussion of minor takes place when the recent bulletin by the City of Toronto informs the public is appropriate where the proposal ‘does not quite fit’ and that minor is both impact and size.

    There is a lack of understanding of the purpose of the raise in the ground floor which is to prevent an extra story being added. No mention is made of the previously used by the OMB parameter test. (See appendix.) No concern is expressed about the domino effect which was rightly raised by the City Planner and there are 2 outstanding applications nearby. Any normal person can see that the prevailing character will be severely damaged by a row of narrow lots.

    If the hearing officer thinks Long Branch is stable he should come out and have a look. It has the highest number of recent severances by far in Toronto and probably the neighbourhood that is undergoing most change in terms of single family infill in Canada. The neighbourhood citizen’s protections in the Official Plan and zoning bylaw are being stripped away by authorities for the benefit of maximising developer profit. The imposition on citizens of Long Branch by this process amounts to harassment.

    In conclusion, once again, the OMB demonstrated why they are incompetent although there us a sprinkling of useful insights which we do not usually get and should lead to a slightly better result than full approval. The consideration of side yard setbacks is good argument for retention on all future applications. The OMB again remind us why their powers are being stripped away by both the City for Committee of Adjustment applications and the Province for other matters. Unfortunately the hearings conducted by the OMB in Long Branch have mostly been a farce.

    It is likely that applicants will come back with a density in the region of 0.55 which is still a huge increase and does not accord with the intent of the zoning bylaw. The density of existing properties is mentioned in the Official Plan but does not seem to part of any reasoning. Reduced density should lead to a reduction of number of storeys, a facet which is completely out of character for overall Long Branch. Soldier houses such as proposed are the subject of neighbourhood hatred and the result of the Goliath of the development industry defeating the David without a sling citizens.

    The Appendix below gives a comprehensive list of those aspects which need to be considered for a review of such applications.
    David Godley April 24 2017
    401 Lake Promenade, Toronto, M8W 1C3416.255.0492
    Appendix. Aspects to be considered for all soldier house splits are as follows:
    Planning Process for Review of Severances and Variances.
    The public interest in these types of applications is defined by a legal and planning framework. The Planning Act deals more with process. The Official Plan is the key policy document and Zoning and Severance are the key control documents. If proposals do not meet the matters to be considered the applications should be turned down. The 12 tests are not equally weighed so planning is not an exact science. It is up to the applicant to prove suitability in accordance with Official Plans and Zoning Bylaws which have to be interpreted as to their intent at the time they were passed, as well as other matters on a suggested checklist provided below.
    A brief check list of matters to consider for these applications are:
    1) Why cannot development be built under current zoning. (Application Form)
    2) Does the proposal comply with the City’s definition of minor.
    “Small changes or exceptions to existing land use or development restrictions contained in the zoning bylaw are called minor variances.”
    3) Are the variances small in size (De Gasperis) as well as impact.
    4) Is the development desirable for the appropriate use from the public interest point of view.
    5) Is the general intent of the zoning achieved particularly the ordinance to limit first floor height to achieve 2 storeys and a sense of scale and massing similar to both existing and that permitted in the zoning.
    6) Does the proposal conform to the general intent of the Official Plan.
    a) Does the proposal reflect “respect and reinforcement of character” as repeated in the OP a dozen times.
    b) Is change gradual, harmonious and sensitive and does it fit the existing physical character.
    c) Does the proposal meet the OMB’s Parameter test (see below)
    d) Does the proposal reflect Policy 2 of the OP that conservation of character trumps density and demand.
    e) Does the proposal reflect policy 3 of the OP (see below)
    f) Does the proposal reflect policy 4 specifically 4.1.5c – to respect and reinforce existing physical character “heights, massing, scale….of nearby residential properties”. Are the densities, storeys, and frontages of the nearby properties reflected in the proposal. Is the property right protection of neighbourhood character built into the Official Plan and zoning bylaw still intact
    g) Is the Official Plans clarification in OPA 320 (Provincial and City Policy) that conservation features are prevailing, predominant and most frequently occurring particularly 4.1.5c “prevailing heights, massing,, scale, density… of nearby dwelling residential properties.”. As Urban Design experts know the there is a hierarchy of areas which need addressing for urban fit. In order of importance they are 1) the abutting houses, 2) the row of housing 3) the block of houses on both sides of the road and 4) the area of neighbourhood beyond. This may be included in the Urban Design Guidelines. A more general policy is contained in OPA 320 adopted by the City and approved by the Province but appealed to the OMB.
    7) Will the proposal set a precedent which could lead to a radical change of street or neighbourhood character.
    8) What is the opinion of the most severely impacted residents, the nearby residents and the neighbourhood as a whole. Section 5 of the Official Plan includes “A fair and accessible public process by encouraging participation by all segments of the population and promoting community awareness of planning issues and decisions through use of clear, understandable language.” Without this consultation a planning position is premature. Without those affected being part of any negotiation a planning decision is premature
    9) What is the opinion of the various Departments consulted including the Urban Design Section and Urban Forestry, TRCA, Traffic, Engineering etc. Without these inputs a planning review is not complete.
    10) The Planning Act includes a provision that a sense of place is required to be considered.
    11) Is there a need for the type of housing eg affordable, accessible
    12). Are there better alternatives to the proposal.

    Other Issues
    The applicant has provided no contextural information. So it is difficult for lay people to understand the issues. The facades of the proposal and adjacent properties need to be shown at scale, a three dimensional birds eye view and plans showing nearby properties flot frontage, density and 3 of storeys.
    An outstanding issue in Long Branch is that there has not been a study to evaluate ground water capacity. All properties south of Lake Shore are subject to significantly increased insurance rates to allow for basement flooding damage. This has not been taken account of by the Engineering Department. Continued reduction of rainwater absorption and removal of mature trees will only exacerbate the situation. It is understood this issue will be addressed in 2020.
    An Urban Design Study for Long Branch which stemmed from concerns about inappropriate development is intended to clarify local interpretation of appearance.

    Extract from Urban Design Policies of Toronto’s Official Plan
    Supporting text: The Plan demands that both the public and private sectors commit to high quality architecture, landscape architecture and urban design…
    3.
    New development will be massed and its exterior façade will be designed to fit harmoniously into its existing and/or planned context, and
    will limit its impact on neighbouring streets, parks, open spaces and properties by:
    a) massing new buildings to frame adjacent streets and open
    spaces in a way that respects the existing and/or planned street proportion;
    b) incorporating exterior design elements, their form, scale, proportion, pattern and materials, and their sustainable design, to influence the character, scale and appearance of the development;
    c) creating appropriate transitions in scale to neighbouring existing and/or
    planned buildings for the purpose of achieving the objectives of this Plan;
    d) providing for adequate light and privacy;
    e) adequately limiting any resulting shadowing of, and uncomfortable wind
    conditions on, neighbouring streets, properties and
    open spaces, having regard for the varied nature of such areas;
    f) preserving and enhancing the urban forest by increasing the tree canopy coverage.
    g) significant heritage resources will be conserved and development adjacent will respect, their scale, character and form.

    (23) Extract from OMB file PL151145, 284 Hounslow Avenue, To.

    I also cannot overlook the 15 m frontage requirement of the existing bylaw. Although some approvals have permitted frontages of less than 15 m, none have countenanced 9.14 m. Approval of the relief sought would, in my view, give rise to a significant risk that lots similar in size to the subject property will be eliminated going forward and that such elimination would, as a result, potentially lead to a transformational shift in the character of the area.

    (17) Extract from OMB file PL150665, 151 Airdrie Road, Toronto

    A compelling case was not made by the planner why the subject property should have the status of the tallest home in the neighbourhood. The Board was not persuaded
    that the building height is not discernable to a passerby, or why the
    Applicant merits another increment in height above that earlier granted by the COA. The Board is also mindful that the approval of variances must rely on Official Plan policy as one of four tests. In this respect, returning to the policy referred in paragraph 9 of this decision, “No change” will be made by variance (or by other means) which are out of keeping with the physical character of the neighbourhood”.
    In the Board’s opinion, approval of the variance which permits the tallest house in the neighbourhood is not compliant with that policy.
    A policy which begins with the word: “No” cannot be ignored in association with an application which would establish a new benchmark for residential building height. When measured against this policy, the case for compatibility cannot be made.

    Reply
  5. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Lot Splitting

    We live in one of the most desirable places in North America. Our neighbourhoods are one of Toronto’s greatest assets. They all have their own character. Unfortunately lot splitting is ruining their character and permanently reducing existing resident’s quality of life.

    Adding density along Lake Shore Blvd has already reaped benefits in terms of increased retail and other services. Sympathetic infilling in a neighbourhood enhances the environment and is fully supported by residents.

    So why is lot splitting taking place.

    City of Toronto policies for the last decade have supported much increased density along main streets such as Lake Shore Boulevard. That is working well. What is not working is the new development in neighbourhoods where lot splitting has been approved without due regard for community interests. New housing on lot splits does not reflect the character of the neighbourhood.

    The type of development being built is an alien type of housing that looks similar to townhouses because they are tall, narrow and close together. Rather than being designed to fit in harmoniously they are worked up on a computer to maximise return. Because density is often twice what is generally permitted they cast shadows on nearby properties, reduce light, curtail views, invade privacy and create overpowering walls. No wonder neighbours are up in arms.

    The new houses also have a jarring presence on the street because there is a sharp contrast in appearance between the existing and the new. The street rhythm is lost because the elements of design are so different. It is also tragic that many trees are being destroyed. Lot splitting is one of the greatest threats to greenery. The City is trying to increase the tree canopy.

    Beautiful neighbourhoods attract business and increase employment by providing delightful places to live. Spoilt neighbourhoods are a sign that the City lacks sophistication. It also means that investments in an attractive low-density leafy neighbourhood are not protected.

    That is why the City’s position is that housing intensification should not take place in neighbourhoods and should be directed away to main streets and centres. Unfortunately the Provincial body that oversees development, the Ontario Municipal Board, has ignored the City’s expensively produced legal policies which involved full public participation.

    This is the reason why the Province will be taking away the Ontario Municipal Board powers shortly. Naturally some in the real estate and development industry will try to undermine any initiative that impacts their objectives. However the good of the community must come first. We should also be following the law.

    If we follow the City’s policies and common sense, we can all share the economic benefits, the improved services and enhanced aesthetics of our neighbourhoods. Conserving character is a sign of a mature City that benefits its citizens rather than giving priority to private profits.

    David Godley
    401 Lake Promenade. Toronto. ON M8W 1C3

    416.255.0492

    Reply
  6. Joyce Moore
    Joyce Moore says:

    I have read many of the letters on your website and I believe that the same destruction of neighbourhoods by developers who are interested in making a profit at the expense of long time residents is occurring in our neighbourhood, too. I live in North Toronto, where developers buy several houses in a row to cut down on opposition at C. of A. from neighbours. One designer who creates plans for rectangular prisms with flat roofs and garages and basements a few inches below grade, appears in multiple committee of development hearings in the North York Centre on behalf of people who wish to rip down whatever house is on the lot, in order to build, sell for millions of dollars and move on to the next. He tells neighbours that the builder is their “new neighbour”, and hires a planner who is basically a shill to support the application. Neighbours are left with no backyard light, fewer places to park, and ugly, brutalist buildings to look at. Franco Romano supported the most recent appplication on our street at TLAB. I agree with your recommendations.

    Reply

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