Derek Pinder September’20

Kingston Condo Meeting Flops

Stop The Condos; Betty Ross of Windy Ridge Dr. places a sign on her neighbours lawn expressing opposition to a proposed condo development. 31 of 33 homes on Windy Ridge have such signs.

By Derek Pinder

In Ward 20, Scarborough South West, Councillor Crawford has been remarkably successful in encouraging property developers to hold community information meetings over and above those required by law. Such was the meeting held by LCH Developments on July 30th. But it was a meeting with a difference: due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting was online or over the phone.

We’ll come back to the format of the meeting later, but first, let’s take a look at what LCH wants to build. Nominally, the development will be a residential condominium on the site of 3291 Kingston Road; an existing walk-up apartment building that will probably not be missed. The kicker is that the development will also involve the demolition of 2 and 4 Windy Ridge Drive; two attractive houses on the edge of a desirable neighbourhood. Design is only in a preliminary stage but we’re looking at an 11-storey building plus a mechanical penthouse with an overall height of 41 metres. The building height will be tiered to the north and south to minimise impact on the neighbourhood. It was stated that there would be about 270 units but the drawings that were displayed showed 369. The building will have a long frontage onto Kingston Road with a wing running southward at each end. The eastern wing will be set back from the property line of 3291 Kingston Road, while the western wing will run along Windy Ridge. There will be two levels of underground parking and vehicle access will be from Windy Ridge. Construction of the building as proposed will require amendments to the Official Plan and a zoning by-law.

Questions could be emailed in advance or submitted to a Zoom chat section during the meeting. The biggest concern by far was the impact of the development on the neighbourhood with particular concerns related to the pleasant Windy Ridge Drive.

How did the online nature of the meeting work? In a word: badly. The fact that LCH held the meeting at all when there was no requirement to do so is commendable and it was infinitely better than no meeting at all. But it won’t work as a replacement for the compulsory meetings in the future which generally follow a town-hall style. People who “attended” by phone could not have understood what was going on when drawings were displayed. Having had advance notice of many of the questions the answers were all too often in corporate-speak. There was little opportunity to ask follow-up questions and there was no debate. It was difficult to gauge the passion and emotion behind the points that were being made. All-in-all it was a sterile event which failed to capture the feelings of local residents.

Is this a vision of the post-COVID future? Let’s hope not, but if a better way cannot be found, we are surely seeing a chipping away of the democratic process.
Editor’s note; Zoning for 3291 Kingston Rd. is Mixed Use. Zoning for 2& 4 Windy Ridge is zoned for Neighbourhood. Thus the required change to the Official Plan. This could prove to be a sticking point for LCH if neighbourhood opposition is strong enough.

Full Disclosure
Bluffs Monitor offices are located one block East of the proposed development and we routinely walk, run, cycle and otherwise enjoy Windy Ridge Drive.

Below All the images that were part of the public presentation