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Community Meeting - Toronto and the OMB - May 3, 2012

Community Meeting - Toronto and the OMB - May 3, 2012

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10/21/2013

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Community Meeting
May 3, 2012Trinity Bellwoods Community Centre155 Crawford St.
Present:
Rosario MarcheseMike LaytonAdam VaughanChristopher Hume
Resident Associations including:
Harbord Village R. A.York R. A.West King West R. A.Niagara Now R. A.Trinity Bellwoods Community AssociationWellington Place Neighbourhood AssociationHigh Park R. A.City Place R. A.Waterfront R. A.Villages of Heartlake, Brampton R. A.Also in attendance were members of the public.Rosario Marchese proposes to introduce a Private M
ember‟s bill that would effectively remove
Toronto from under the jurisdiction OMB (Ontario Municipal Board). He organized this meetingto get feedback from the community and gage the level of support. In attendance were localpoliticians/personalities: Christopher Hume, Mike Layton, Adam Vaughan.
Christopher Hume:
Toronto should do its own planning; however, this should not be left to the City planners,as this department is dysfunctional and lacks vision.
The OMB is immature, inefficient and ineffective, and thus unable to manage the rapidpace our City is experiencing.
This issue
 –
why do we need the OMB - has been going on for years.
Councillors often vote for political reasons/favour and not for what is best for the citizens.
OMB process involves many layers and is bureaucratic.
Recommends a system more like Vancouver where politicians make rules and non-politicians apply them.
Thinks Section 37 money is token.
Mixed use residential
 –
works well.
Mike Layton:
Believes the current process is stacked against the City and community, and is in favourof developers.
 
Gave example of 149 Strachan where the community complained and decided thedevelopment was not ideal for the neighbourhood. The matter went to the Committee ofAdjustments which decided in favour of the community. The developer then went to theOMB and was given the ok to build. (Subsequently the developer decided to buildsomething more in line with what the community wanted but they effectively won with theOMB.)
Another example, 1030 King St. W.
 –
was voted down by the Community of Adjustmentsbut received support from the OMB. Same for 90 Niagara, which affects a potential newproject 89-109 Niagara.
Observed that massive development projects are routinely receiving OMB approval.
Adam Vaughan:
Toronto has undergone rapid growth.
Vancouver is not necessarily the best alternative; however, their planning processseems to be more comprehensive than Toronto, in that it includes social components inplanning, etc.
The Vancouver process on paper is useful, takes into account social and economicfactors, the Chief Planner reports to the Council, but there is no accountability.
He always suggests that developers meet with residents to get feedback, etc. If thiswere done regularly, it would erase the need for the OMB, and they would cease to bean issue.
People want to know they have influence in shaping their own community.
Yes, must try to get rid of OMB.
At some point the Committee of Adjustments turned into a review board.
Politicians elected should have power to say no.
City Councillors
have one power which is to manage land but they don‟t really do this.
 
The City needs to grow up and see how things are linked, i.e. we have empty schoolsbut have no plans in place to fill them.
General discussion:
Process at OMB is run by lawyers.
Developers have huge influence.
C. Hume stated that the City of Toronto Act of 2006 gives the City power to handle someissues that currently go to the OMB.
Developers give municipalities huge sums of money so that chips are stacked on the
developer‟s
side.
The High Park R. A. highlighted an example where City turned the review/approvalprocess over to the developer.
 
City has never defined “character”
in terms of neighbourhood.
A. Vaughan:
Mentioned that studies are not useful after the application has been submitted.
Subway lines change the character of neighbourhoods.
A rational conversation needs to happen regarding development.
Planning laws are not meshing with development and need to be conducted in advance.
Keep in mind most development is years in the planning, and when a new councillorcomes into office, they inherit decisions made years earlier.
 
C. Hume
Suggests that there is too much emphasis on height and residents should also worryabout what happens on the street.
Complimented A. Vaughan for thinking beyond height.
We need a process that works because we are a huge city.
Waterfront R. A.
Waterfront project
 –
new project, 75 stories, 3 times that of originally planned by the city.Too many units!
A. Vaughan
The Planning Department is severely under staffed and underfunded.
We should blame the politicians.
In general, developers plan for tomorrow based on what they sold yesterday.
M. Layton:
The mixed use model used to
evaluate applications, starts from the provincial “places togrow”
guidelines which then go to the City where bylaws are applied.
City wants density on main streets generally.
There is not much to ensure family use on a site, developers say family does not work.
Real issue is condo supply and demand.
Toronto has power but does not use it.
Ideally, City should have the power to stipulate mixed type units, i.e. London has thepower to say that developers need to have a certain number of units in a hospital zone,available to hospital staff.
City has the power to set the threshold
 –
 
don‟t let councillors off the hook.
 
TDSB rarely gets involved in planning but could be of influence. For example, CityPlace has 7 dogs per floor but less than 2 kids per building. Yet there are no plans toincrease the number of children in the area.
This may also affect resale value, as mentioned by the R.A. for that area.
City Place:
A question was posed: Could City Place be forced to put Toronto City Housing in theneighbourhood?
Potentially but not necessarily a bad thing. Adam V. discussed the project behind TIFFLightbox which includes community space, townhouses, condos, etc.
All healthier neighbourhoods have mixed demographics, commercial, family, single, etc.use. It is possible to have a health vertical neighbourhood, i.e. collapsible walls.
C. Hume
This is all new for Toronto
 –
families in high-rises Adam is a pioneer in this.
Most developers are not imaginative or forward thinking.
Families in condos are a new phenomenon.
OMB appointees are political appointees.
OMB is a problematic process and reforming it, as has been suggested, would not be asolution.

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