What's the city thinking when it picks OMB fights?

A Town Crier Community Column

Last year the City of Toronto defended the Neon building shape and magnitude at the OMB. The project’s owner was granted an increase in density of over 11 times what was allowed for the corner of Duplex Avenue and Orchard View Boulevard. The tower will block sunlight and cause privacy concerns for many in the local community. The massive building will tower over the two storey residential neighbourhood on the opposite side of Duplex Avenue.

Now, the city is objecting at the OMB to the Premium proposal at the corner of Eglinton and Duplex. The owner of the Premium site is seeking an increase in density of only four times what is allowed. The site is within the Yonge/Eglinton Growth Centre that is specifically identified as deserving of significant intensification. The proposed project sits opposite two Hydro Stations with an industrial built form. Unlike Neon, what is proposed will have no significant effect on any local resident.

Yet, here we are again at the OMB with a cost to taxpayers of a minimum $250,000 and probably the same for the developer. To ARECA, this makes no sense. Planning for the area we live in was described as a joke, by those who defended Neon. Limits to height and density in the area have not been enforced contrary to what we were told would happen after Neon was approved. No initiative or study has been conducted that could avoid the financial cost and uncertainty that now characterizes planning in the area. The largest infrastructure spending that Toronto has ever seen is about to happen with the creation of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. In spite of that, the Eglinton midtown area is still struggling with an incomplete plan.

With respect to the Premium proposal, ARECA retained the services of a qualified planner and crafted a plan for the public realm in midtown. While nowhere near complete and without more extensive public consultation, ARECA’s plan to improve the streets where we live was endorsed by the developer of Premium.

“For the first time, the OMB recognised me as a community expert,” said ARECA’s director of planning and development Patrick Smyth. “Regardless of the shape, magnitude or extent of the development, there must be the production of a good and comprehensive outcome for the public realm. Every corner, street, nook and crannie must be consolidated to deliver a greener, more walkable and more open-space friendly environment.”

If we can achieve that, ARECA believes it will have represented the community as community associations should.

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]information@areca.info[/email].

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Posted: May 14 2012 4:50 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto