OMB important for good local planning

A Town Crier Community Column

A Town Crier Community Column

Why communities need the Ontario Municipal Board

Abolishing the Ontario Municipal Board threatens a community’s ability to challenge poor planning as it’s the place of last resort when too much political influence has been brought to bear on a development issue. That developers are prepared to make secret payments to avoid it, is telling. With such a weak planning department as we have, where else could we go? Without ARECA’s recent challenge to the NEON development, a much larger, taller building would have been erected at Orchard View Boulevard and Duplex Avenue. It was important for the present and the future that the community association appealed to the OMB.

Toronto has an official plan. It has planning guidelines and policies. However, these instruments of good planning have been decimated. In only a very short time since it was crafted, the official plan has holes big enough for highly priced development lawyers to secure official plan amendments based on precedents. We have not seen any assurances that things will change any if the OMB is removed. Unless the planning department is infused with enough professional staff to fill the large number of vacancies and funded to reflect the volume of development applications, planning will remain the domain of big property developers. The city’s planning department must accept responsibility for impartially defending its own official plan and councillors should acknowledge they are not planners.

Northeast corner of Eglinton and Duplex

The proposed development at the northeast corner of Eglinton and Duplex avenues has been set down for hearing at the OMB in April, 2012, in which ARECA will participate. Given the number of precedents in the area for buildings of the proposed size, ARECA is preparing a list of desirable community benefits that could be received if the project goes ahead (including community centres, daycares and park facilities) in return for official plan amendments. With the current high level of development activity, ARECA is focused on ensuring community benefits are secured and everything possible is done to improve the public realm.

St Margaret’s Church site at Avenue Road and Burnaby

The proposed redevelopment of the St Margaret’s Church site at Avenue Road and Burnaby Boulevard remains somewhat of an unknown. Very little information is flowing from any source. The site is of vital importance since it will be the location for an LRT station. There are a number of significant planning issues to be addressed if the opportunities are to be optimized.

ARECA is a volunteer community association representing the views of residents in matters that affect our community in North Toronto. ARECA represents the area bounded by Eglinton Avenue West, Yonge Street, Roselawn Avenue, Avenue Road, St Clements Avenue and Chaplin Road. If you live in the ARECA area please join your community association. To join send a cheque for $20 ($10 seniors) for your 2012 membership, along with your name, address and phone number and email address to Avenue Road Eglinton Community Association, c/o Membership Secretary 23 Elwood Boulevard, Toronto M4R 1B8. Note if you wish to receive fax or email updates from ARECA please include these with your membership details or email us at [email][/email].

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Posted: Nov 29 2011 6:48 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto