Committee of adjustment application regarding 290 Lake Promenade in Long Branch: Comments from David Godley
I am pleased to know that on occasion people visit this website.
Quite a few people have read previous posts about how to prepare a five-minute presentation for a committee of adjustment hearing.
I have a particular interest in how things appear from the perspective of everyday residents.
It’s helpful, in storytelling related to our neighbourhoods, to include the perspective of such residents, rather than relying solely on professional and official accounts by sources whose interests may run counter to those of everyday residents.
My own focus is on the packaging of texts, including the preparation of speaking notes for five-minute presentations at committee of adjustment hearings.
This is not a complicated process. A capable writer works with a text until it is clear and coherent. You want a text that a person can read and readily comprehend. If it’s not clear your message may get lost.
Sometimes packaging of texts means simply breaking longer texts into shorter paragraphs. Sometimes it means making a text shorter so that people actually read it. Facts and figures by themselves at times have little meaning; other ways often must be found to drive the message home.
For the current post, I continue with a theme addressed at a previous post entitled:
David Godley’s observations, regarding planning department comments with reference to 290 Lake Promenade
The text which follows is from a document prepared by David Godley.
I have broken longer passages into shorter paragraphs and have added headings, in order to enhance readability:
To Natasha Laing, who signed Planning’s Comments on 290 Lake Promenade
I note the report you signed on November 15 2019 recorded opposition to the application in terms of floor space index and height which is much appreciated.
I further note that Councillor Grimes relied on you to provide criteria from the Long Branch Guidelines.
The matter was deferred at the Committee of Adjustment on December 7 and no date is recorded on the website for a future hearing.
My concern is that the report only addresses an isolated policy of the OP and disregards the most important elements of the Long Branch Character Guidelines ie how to evaluate defined character and the broad character of Long Branch (thus only leaving the block and nearby buildings for analysis).
Logic would say this is part of a complete application. I attach an example of a form that an applicant can use for analysis instead of designing first and then trying to justify how the proposal fits.
The architect has provided a facade of this section of Lake Promenade (but without the bungalow at the corner of 36th). Generally excellent. We mostly do not get this although it is beginning to happen.
But no bird’s eye view showing impacts on adjacent properties are submitted thus making this aspect opaque.
In urban design the nearer the housing to the proposal the more weight it has because the you are seeing the properties in direct relationship to the facade rather than the oblique angle of properties further away.
No analysis is made of the 4 tests such as the general intent of the zoning bylaw which is low density and that minor has to be both impact and size in accordance with the Superior Court case Vincent vs De Gasperis as used by TLAB -see 85 Rykert.
I am aware that OPPI threw the whole planning system into turmoil for years by printing a false article for which they have never made amends, saying size does not matter.
Since those who are being reported to are lay people who are currently making decisions from gut feeling rather than the planning and legal framework, all these matters and the policies below are a crucial part of the planning context.
I have seen no planning reports to the COA that come nearly close to being comprehensive in accordance to OPPI requirements.
Please could you explain your action on the 290 Lake Promenade report.
David Godley, 401 Lake Promenade, Toronto, M8W 1C3 416 255.0492
Planning is defined by the Canadian Institute of Planners as
“Planning means the scientific, aesthetic, and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities and services with a view to securing the physical, economic and social efficiency, health and well-being of urban and rural communities.”
My own definition of Urban Design:
“urban design relates to the third dimension and what can be seen from the public realm as well as impacts of proposals on nearby development.”
(Incidentally the latter part of this appears to have been eliminated from Section 3 of Chapter 3 on Urban Design in the newly adopted Public Realm and Built Form)
Architecture and urban design
Section 1 of the OP states as part of the Vision “Beautiful architecture and excellent urban design that astonishes and inspires”
“Toronto’s future as a city of leaders and stewards is one where
– individuals and communities actively participate in decisions affecting them
– people are inspired to become involved in positive change
-the private sector marshals its resources to help implement objectives.”
Section 2 of Official Plan
Section 2 of the OP states as part of the Strategy
“By focusing most new residential development in the Centres, along the Avenues, and in other strategic locations, we can preserve the shape and feel of our neighbourhoods.”
Section 3 of Official Plan
Section 3 of the OP on Urban Design states
“Good urban design is not just an aesthetic overlay, but an essential ingredient of City building. Good urban design is good business and good social policy.”
“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;
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.”
As the OPPI standards state “a planner must strive to provide full, clear and accurate information on planning issues to clients, citizens and Government decision makers.
Section 4 Land Use
“4.1.5.Development in established Neighbourhoods will respect and reinforce the existing physical character of each geographic neighbourhood, including in particular:
c) prevailing heights, massing, scale, density and dwelling type of nearby residential properties;
d) prevailing building type(s);
e) prevailing location, design and elevations relative to the grade of driveways and garages;
f) prevailing setbacks of buildings from the street or streets;
g) prevailing patterns of rear and side yard setbacks and landscaped open space
The physical character of the geographic neighbourhood includes both the physical characteristics of the entire geographic area in proximity to the proposed development (the broader context) and the physical characteristics of the properties that face the same street as the proposed development in the same block and the block opposite the proposed development (the immediate context).
Proposed development within a Neighbourhood will be materially consistent with the prevailing physical character of properties in both the broader and immediate contexts.” “prevailing will mean the most frequently occurring”
Long Branch Urban Design Guidelines Approved Unanimously by Council 31 January 2018
Motions (City Council)1 – Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Mark Grimes (Carried)
“That City Council request that the Long Branch Neighbourhood Character Guidelines adopted by Council be used by home builders, the community, City staff, committees and appeal bodies to provide direction in their decision making as they develop plans, review applications for redevelopment and/or enhance the public realm in the Long Branch Neighbourhood.”
The objective of the Guidelines is to identify the neighbourhood’s key character-defining qualities, and to ensure that future developments are undertaken in a manner which is contextually-sensitive and responsive to the broader neighbourhood character.
In order to accomplish this, the Guidelines incorporate a design methodology which evaluates future development at three concentric scales, including:
1. The property in relation to adjacent properties;
2. The property in relation to the street and block segment;
3. The property in relation to the broader neighbourhood context.
Page 27 – Long Branch Character Defining Conditions
a. Historic Long Branch houses dating back to original “villa” lots and corner lots of distinctive character
b. Hipped or gabled roofs, front porches, ground-related first floor, prominent and grade-related entrance and window placement, and recessed or rear garages, to establish a strong street interface.
c. Consistent and generous front yard setbacks with exceptions where dictated through variations in the street and block network (i.e. Arcadian Circle), maintaining landscaping, mature trees, and accent planting while allowing for projections and recesses to articulate the primary façade, and minimizing the width of curb cuts in order to maintain the continuity of the pedestrian realm.
d. Consistent and generous side yard setbacks and rhythm of dwelling units, maintaining porosity between buildings, rear yard access for pedestrians and vehicles, and landscaping between buildings and adjacent open spaces.
e. Consistent and moderate rear yard setbacks and building depths, maintaining appropriate height transitions, privacy, sky view access, private amenity space, landscaping and mature trees.
f. 9.0m to 15.24m lot frontage and 35.0m to 45.0m lot depths, with exceptions where dictated through variations in the street and block.
g. 1 to 2 storey building heights with massing, articulation and fenestration strategies which are complementary to the existing context.
h. Prominent and unobstructed views and access to the Lake Ontario shoreline, Long Branch Park, Marie Curtis Park, and other open spaces.
i. Distinct elements including estate residential dwellings along Lake Promenade, isolated apartment blocks, employment areas north of Lake Shore Boulevard, and commercial developments along Lake Promenade
j. High quality materials, including brick or wood siding.