Concern was also expressed at the meeting that too many large developments are being considered at a time when the neighbourhood infrastructure is weak, something that resident John Hartley characterized as bad planning.
Specifically, Hartley said that schools are at capacity, roads are overloaded and the sewers that led to massive flooding in 2012 are facing a $300-million upgrade.
Crawford stated incorrectly that there is indeed enough room at local schools but the application will be reviewed by the school boards and if capacity becomes a problem, condo buyers will be officially notified that their children need to go to school elsewhere.
In terms of the sewers, Crawford said no approvals will be granted for this development unless Altree can prove that the building has the capacity for water and sewage.
Official Plan Amendment Required
Janine O’Flanagan, who lives just south of the proposed condo, raised concerns about the developer’s purchase of two single-family houses on Birchcliff Avenue to provide access to underground parking and accommodate a four-storey portion of the building.
She said the plan would lead to a driveway for 271 vehicles right next to her house when they’re already dealing with a situation across the street where vehicle access is necessary for 52 units in the new Birchcliff Urban Towns development.
Approving the redevelopment of those two single-family dwellings would require an amendment to the City of Toronto’s Official Plan, because the houses fall under the plan’s “Neighbourhoods” designation, which does not allow the lots to be used for those purposes
Crawford expressed his personal opposition and indicated that such an amendment would have difficulty getting approved by the planning department.
“I do not support any incursion into neighbourhoods, period,” Crawford said. We protect neighbourhoods. That’s a critically important aspect of this.”
Interestingly, Crawford said Altree Developments would not be able to build a nine-storey building without the two single-family lots due to the city’s rules on angular planes designed to create a gradual transition between neighbourhoods and tall buildings. He said the developer would have no choice but to come back with a proposal for a four to six-storey building.
That being said, Crawford reminded the meeting that the city has a growth plan and needs to accommodate 30,000 to 50,000 new people per year.
And if the city rejects the development, Crawford warned that the developer has the right to appeal directly to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), the body that
replaced the Ontario Municipal Board.
Historically, Crawford said, the OMB generally supported development and the appeal process is risky and unnerving because sometimes developers are granted even more density than they asked for.
At various points in the meeting, Crawford reminded the community of the benefits of engaging in consultation with the developer. He said he had warned Altree to consult with residents of Birch Cliff before filing a development application but the company didn’t listen and they now realize it was a misstep.
Crawford added that Altree is willing to meet with the community in the new year to discuss their proposal.
Dewar Gully Skeptical of Consultation
Anna Dewar Gully, chair of the community association, told Crawford that the community has become skeptical about consultation after engaging for two years on the 11-storey condo at Manderley and Kingston Road, only to see the project flipped to a new developer who changed many of the agreed-upon design features.
Dewar Gully went on to describe the Altree project as ‘irresponsible development” that’s erasing affordable housing in the neighbourhood and said it’s difficult to trust a community consultation process that seems to be broken.
“I think the notion of consensus in this situation feels untenable. I think that there’s been one theme that has occurred throughout all of our dialogues over the last few weeks, it’s that people are fundamentally skeptical that we have to just keep giving and giving to developers, because there’s an inherent…it’s like they deserve to be greedy.”
Dewar Gully said its important to focus on the human stories of people affected by the proposed development.
“This cannot be a conversation about intensification and the developer’s market interest,” Dewar Gully added. “I feel like these community consultations, we are constantly talking about the natural drive towards intensification — you’re underprioritizing the conversation about quality of life.”
Dewar Gully told Crawford that the community is expecting him to dismantle the problematic parts of the development.
The community association also presented Councillor Crawford with five “asks” and requested his specific commitment to the following goals:
1. prevent the displacement of Lenmore Court tenants
2. stop encroachment and rezoning of residential streets, particularly Birchcliff Avenue
3. limit the density, width, and height of this development and future developments, keeping within the four to six-storey idea that’s been planned and zoned
4. protect safe traffic flow and school intersections, in particular, Birchcliff Avenue and Kingston Road
5. reduce the strain on our Bluffs environment and our community infrastructure, including schools, public transportation, and traffic.
Crawford described the five “asks” as reasonable and said he will work with the community to bring them to fruition.
He also said he will raise all of the points with city planning and Altree Developments and ensure that the developer sits down with the community.
The Lenmore Court tenants held a rally on Friday Dec. 4th at 1 pm outside their buildings on Kingston Road with the support of ACORN Toronto, a group assisting tenants facing “demovictions” and “renovictions”.
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