City to oppose Keewatin development at OMB

CITY SUPPORT: Local residents (shown in April photo) who opposed townhouse development on Keewatin Avenue will have the city behind them in opposing the proposal at the Ontario Municipal Board.

The controversial application to replace eight detached houses at 200–214 Keewatin Ave. with two four-storey blocks containing 80 stacked townhouse units is heading to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) — with the city’s official opposition.

While no hearings have been scheduled yet, more than two dozen residents came to the Oct. 6 meeting of the North York Community Council where a unanimous vote authorized the city planning department’s refusal of the application.

“It was really neat,” Ward 25 Councillor Jaye Robinson said. “They filled the first two or three rows of the chamber … and only three or four people were chosen to speak, but when they did, the neighbours all stood up to show their support.”

City planner John Andreevsky, who wrote the report opposing the application, said the proposal by developers Freed and Trolleybus does not conform to the neighbourhood development standards outlined in the city’s official plan, which emphasizes the importance of maintaining cohesive architecture on neighbourhood streets.

“If you walk through that area along Keewatin or Sherwood, it’s all single-family detached homes,” Andreevsky said. “They have very large front-yard setbacks, they have very large rear-yard setbacks, and this proposal doesn’t comply with any of that.”

Released in September, Andreevsky’s 38-page report identifies concerns raised by the application across more than 12 categories, including the neighbourhood’s limits for building height, lot size, and population density, all of which are exceeded by the proposal.

Other concerns include lack of privacy, lack of replacement green space, the neighbourhood’s inability to accommodate 77 new residential parking spaces, and a stormwater report that did not meet the city’s technical requirements.

“(The developers) have gone into a neighbourhood to do a lot of consolidation, and put forward a proposal that doesn’t comply with the official plan’s neighbourhood development criteria at all,” Andreevsky said.

Neighbours and residents have dramatically protested the application, going so far as to start their own website,

At the Oct. 6 NYCC meeting, four residents gave speeches opposing the application.

“I was impressed and moved by the eloquence of the neighbours describing the neighbourhood that we’d all like to keep,” said Sherwood Park Residents Association president Ben Daube, who also spoke out against the proposal at the meeting.

Daube said he was “delighted” when NYCC decided to support residents and the city’s planning department by opposing the application.

“Calm and reason has descended upon the city of Toronto,” he said. “For the time being, anyway.”

Freed and Trolleybus filed the application with the OMB in July, citing City Council’s failure to make a timely decision.

Daube is confident that in this case, the odds won’t favour the developers — that faced with a four-storey proposal in a residential neighbourhood, the OMB is more likely to side with city planners whenever the hearing takes place.

“We’re well aware that between now and then the development could change,” Daube said. “And the residents have already met three times in without-prejudice meetings with the developer.”

Neither Trolleybus nor Freed responded to requests for comment.