Etobicoke York Committee of Adjustment champions subjectivity in decision making

The Etobicoke York Committee of Adjustment champions subjectivity in its land-use decision making, as outlined at a recent post.

In Long Branch, we have a history of developers coming in to split a lot, overbuilding on the resulting two tiny lots, hacking away at 100-year-old trees in the process, and then making a run for it, wads of money in hand, leaving behind a streetscape that residents on the street, especially in adjacent and across-the-street houses, view as destructive of the physical character of the neighbourhood.

The question that arises is: What are the next steps, in addressing the ongoing threat of rampant destruction of the physical character – and social fabric – of Long Branch?

The recent unanimous adoption, of the Long Branch Neighbourhood Character Guidelines by Toronto Council, offers one possible way to address lot-splitting/overbuilding in Long Branch and elsewhere in Toronto. The outcome of this particular attempt, to address the issue, remains to be seen.

Underlying culture, of Etobicoke York Committee of Adjustment, appears unchanging

It is unlikely, from the evidence that is available, the the culture of the Etobicoke York Committee of Adjustment will change, and that the members will be guided by the Long Branch Character Guidelines in the assessment of incoming applications.

Such a culture is slow to change, if it changes at all.

Judging by an April 4, 2018 Q & A featuring Questions from residents, and Answers from City staff, the Etobicoke York Committee of Adjustment is not abandon subjectivity as the sole determining factor in decision making, with regard to applications to sever/overbuild in Long Branch.

Instead, judging from comments from City staff at the same Q & A, it is at the Toronto Local Appeal Body, where some semblance of a possibility remains, that the rampant onslaught of sever/overbuild construction projects can be slowed down, or brought to a halt, in Long Branch.

Cultural history of civic engagement in Toronto

A recent post highlights differences in the cultural history of civic engagement in Toronto, as compared to the corresponding cultural history of an adjacent municipality, namely Mississauga.

The best way to gather evidence on this topic, as I have learned in the course of several year of research regarding neighbourhoods on the Lake Ontario waterfront, is to follow land-use planning projects in both municipalities, by attending public meetings, interviewing people, and generally picking up impressions.

The above-noted Q & A in Long Branch, which I was pleased to have the opportunity to attend, serves to reinforce what residents have already learned, from their own observations at many meetings, about how the Etobicoke York Committee of Adjustment actually operates, and what the climate in Toronto actually looks like, with regard to civic engagement.

Toward the end of an April 4, 2018 public meeting, residents made several attempts to get satisfactory answers, regarding details related to the language-usage policies of the Etobicoke York Committee of Adjustment, but the requested answers did not materialize.

Residents directed their questions to the point of view, frequently expressed by the Committee, that the definitions of Minor and Major can readily be untethered, from the standard English language usage, regarding such terms.

As appears to be the standard City practice in such situations, City staff chose, at the April 4, 2018 meeting, with a characteristic demonstration of vehemence on their part, to shut the discussion down, when it was clear that residents were not satisfied with the answers, that were forthcoming from City staff.

There is a hope that a new Committee, possibly appointed at some distant time down the road, will go about its work in a way that better takes into account the interests of the broader community.


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