The Committee of Adjustment’s North York panel on Sept. 25 unanimously rejected an application for a 316-unit condominium at 160 Vanderhoof Ave., the proposed third tower of the Leaside townhouse and condominium development known as Scenic on Eglinton.
Concerns with the additional units’ average size (684 square feet, compared to the average 992 square feet as specified in an agreement between the city and former developer Kosmor), the impact on traffic and the number of parking spaces per unit, which developer Aspen Ridge requested to lower from Leaside’s minimum of 1.25 spaces per unit to 1.11, were cited as reasons the panel turned it down.
Aspen Ridge had also been hoping to add 98 units to the Scenic on Eglinton development above the 965-units as set out in the
existing agreement without submitting a zoning by-law amendment application.
The chair said the application did not appear to represent minor zoning variances, which the Committee of Adjustment was created to hear.
In asking that the proposal go to a full review as required under a zoning bylaw amendment application, Leaside Property Owners Association vice president Geoff Kettel told the panel the number of units would have a greater impact than the developers believed.
Planning consultant Scott Walker, who represented Aspen Ridge at the hearing, argued the proposal does not include additional floor space or exterior building changes.
He said after the hearing that Kettel had misrepresented the application by implying the development’s third building would suddenly include 316 units instead of 218.
“When they draw the conclusion that the average suite size would normally be 992 square feet, that’s not what it would be,” Walker said. “Nobody would sell a project with average unit sizes that high, because nobody would buy them.”
The proposed number of units reflects the reality of providing affordable housing in Toronto’s present real estate market, Walker said.
Scenic on Eglinton’s unit cap was approved by the Ontario Municipal Board in 2000, he said, when the average unit cost half as much as it does now.
“If you’re forced to build 1,000 square feet, and you’re at $550 per square foot, that’s $550,000,” Walker said. “Right now the market is slow and rental demand is high, and there’s a reason for that: people can’t afford to buy condos.”
He said they’re charging “whatever the market will bear for that type of unit in this area,” and $375,000 for 684 square feet is a price point “many more people can afford.”
Alun Lloyd, a traffic consultant who spoke on Aspen Ridge’s behalf, told the hearing those purchasing the condo units would also be less likely to drive, especially with the coming Eglinton Crosstown LRT transit system nearby.
“It’s near a major avenue, with a 2,300-metre walk to a subway station that will get you anywhere you want to go into the city by non-auto means,” Lloyd said.
For his part, Kettel said he did not misrepresent the numbers, and that he is aware the 965-unit total represents a development cap.
“All we’re asking for is the proper zoning bylaw amendment process,” he said. “As the chair said, it’s not a minor issue… We asked for it to be referred to staff.”
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