A controversial Kingston Road condo development at the top of the Glen Davis Ravine has been approved by the province — to the dismay of residential neighbours.
In late December, the Ontario Municipal Board ruled in favour of an official plan amendment to permit Kingston Road Development Corporation to build a six-storey, 47-unit condominium building at 580-592 Kingston Rd., just west of Main Street.
“It’s more than a little disheartening, it’s dispiriting,” said Kip McCaskill, president of Friends of Glen Davis Ravine, a group that’s been fighting to see the application was not approved as-is.
McCaskill and his neighbours banded together two years ago to stop the development, saying it was too tall and would infringe on the ravine property directly behind their backyards.
The group was particularly concerned over plans to build a parking ramp, garbage loading area, gazebo and walkways into a portion of the sloping green space.
McCaskill and his partner Jennifer Brass have a home directly below the development area and, like other members of the residents group, had concerns over the potential for less sunlight in the neighbourhood, groundwater management and potential for water runoff, as well as the stability of the slope to withstand heavy vehicles.
“It’s a really steep driveway,” Brass said.
In his ruling, OMB vice-chair Stephan Stefanko said he was satisfied the slope was stable and wouldn’t pose any hazards. Development would make “only an extremely modest impact” on the amount of sunlight the homes would lose, he wrote.
The development conformed with the intent of the Official Plan and Kingston Road Development had taken the necessary steps to scrutinize and safeguard the property, Stefanko ruled.
Newbie local councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon was a voice of opposition to the development from the time she took office in 2010. Despite her disapproval, city planners approved the development and the application got the green light at a February 2011 Toronto and East York community council meeting, followed by another at city council.
Days after learning of the ruling, McMahon echoed McCaskill’s disappointment, but said the matter has strengthened her resolve to find reforms to the Ravine Protection bylaw so other residents don’t have to fight a losing battle.
“It’s not just a local thing,” McMahon said from her office at city hall. “We’re very worried about protection of ravines and the future of them,”
The Beaches-East York rep said the area was designated ravine land at the Ontario Municipal Board several years ago.
“It just seems really contradictory to me,” she said.
Allan Windrem, a consultant representing the property owners, said his clients have taken the necessary steps to protect the ravine lands behind the development.
“We’ve attempted to respond to their concerns about degradation in the ravine and just as importantly, we’ve responded to the city’s concerns, who looked at our application and considered the concerns of the residents at the same time,” he said, adding the developers are implementing a ravine stewardship program to plant a variety of flora and fauna in the ravine.
Meanwhile, The Friends of Glen Davis Ravine are still in the midst of fundraising to pay off debt incurred while defending their position at the Ontario Municipal Board.
Brass said the group was planning to meet and decide how to proceed. But, she said, they are reluctant to incur more debt by taking further action. The group had until Jan. 12 to file an appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board.
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