Board flattens highrise plans at Bloor and Dundas

Harry Cornelius is breathing a sigh of relief after a proposal for a high rise at just south of Dundas West subway station was quashed by the Ontario Municipal Board.

It’s not that Cornelius and his group Friends of Dundas and Bloor object to redevelopment, but he says the proposal for a 27-storey tower was not appropriate at this site.

And the board agreed.

In an 11-page decision the board rejected the project and also upheld the city’s new Bloor-Dundas Avenue Study that governs how intensification of the neighbourhood should proceed.

“It was an unquestionable victory for the neighbourhood and city,” said Cornelius. “The decision seemed to reinforce the planning process and that buildings have to fit in within the neighbourhood.”

The city held meetings about this project attracting 300 people and there was also a year-long process to develop the local avenue study.

BSW Development appealed both its specific proposal and the study to the Ontario Municipal Board which has the power to overrule city council planning decisions.

“(It) is simply too large for the site and is inappropriate for the area,” wrote board member Steven Stefanko in the decision document.

“In my opinion, it is not consistent with the findings and recommendations in the Avenue Study, it does not conform with the City Official Plan and it does not represent good planning,”

Councillor Gord Perks is tickled pink the city and residents won the fight against this proposal.

“It’s a marvelous vindication for the community,” said the Parkdale-High Park councillor. “It says to developers you can not treat Toronto’s streets as the wild, wild west.”

“The decision speaks to the strength of the Official Plan and strategy for intensification on main streets,” he said. “It’s a thorough enough plan we can defend it at the OMB.”

The West Bend Community Association’s Hilary Bell said the board’s decision has positive implications for how the neighbourhood is developed in the future.

“Generally the community supports intensification at this site,” she said. “We’d like to see that site developed more in line with what the avenue study contemplates.”

The city allows for further intensification of this site at the northwest corner of Bloor Street West and Dundas Avenue West up to 10 storeys or 15 if a developer buys surrounding property to enlarge the lot size.

For Bell, the most gratifying part of the whole process is the area now has a long-term vision of how the community should be developed on a site-by-site basis.

“Anyone looking to build in the area already knows what the city is looking for. That doesn’t mean no one will ever ask for variances,” she said. “But there’s an overall plan in place that provides more certainty not just for residents but also property owners.”

If a new development plan is put forward for the Dundas and Bloor site, Cornelius hopes a second entrance for the Dundas West subway and a link to the GO train entrance will be part of that plan.

About this article:

By: Kris Scheuer
Posted: Mar 29 2010 11:34 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto