Residents want to curb development on Bayview

[attach]7507[/attach]No more townhouses along Bayview Avenue, and do something about traffic congestion.

Those were the chief wishes of a standing-room-only crowd that packed into TFS auditorium Feb. 6 for the first Bayview Design Study community consultation meeting.

“It was a tough crowd,” admits Ward 25 councillor Jaye Robinson, who initiated the forum where local residents can voice their concerns about the direction development is taking along Bayview Avenue, between Hwy. 401 and Lawrence Avenue East.

A team of planners, led by North York planning manager Susan Smallwood, listened as opposition to the Ontario Municipal Board and opinions that the provincial body adjudicating development disputes favours developers and not neighbours were aired.

“People were very vocal, and very frustrated by what the OMB is doing,” Robinson said. “They feel the neighbours aren’t being supported, [but] the developers are being supported.”

Many advocated removing Toronto from the OMB’s jurisdiction entirely, she said.

While townhouses might be a favourite of developers, residents and Robinson too expressed a desire for Bayview Avenue to retain its zoning for single-family homes.

Regarding the residents’ other key concern, Robinson said congestion makes Bayview Avenue “almost a parking lot at times,” and action must be taken to address traffic flow.

Considering seven development applications for this stretch of Bayview are already pending, and more are on the way, city planners emphasized the importance of creating design guidelines for the area, highlighting the value of residents’ input and noting that the meeting was but the first of many steps.

Robinson says the planners will now organize a series of working group meetings before reconvening for another community consultation, at which time they will share the groups’ recommendations with the entire community.

The first working group meeting hasn’t been scheduled yet, but Robinson expects it to take place within a month.

“It’s quite a lengthy process, but it’s an important process,” she said. “If you have people collectively creating a set of guidelines like this, I have to hope that the OMB would honour that.”