Interested in joining the Character Study working Group?
Download the application here.
Applications can be submitted directly to Allison Reid, Senior Planner Urban Design at Allison.Reid@toronto.ca
(Please note: members will be chosen by Toronto City Planning and not my office.)
On Wednesday, October 26, we had the kickoff meeting for the High Park Apartment Area Character Study. While there was a fair turn out, and some good questions asked, there seems to be some lingering confusion with the study, and how it will work with the opponents appeal to the OMB.
There are two important aspects of the character study. First, the character study is a chance for the community to be able to express their desires for what is to come to the neighbourhood in the future. No neighbourhood is static, so whether these proposals move forward or not, it is important that the community's views and concerns are recorded and addressed. Second, the study will also include the two proposals before us. Legally, each application is looked at separately, and must have their own final Staff Report to Council. While this will continue moving forward, the Character Study is able to link together the two applications, and examine the effects that the proposed changes would have on each other's development, as well as the community as a whole. (The study was set up to work in tandem with the two development applications as one will affect the other.) The Character Study will not come out in favour or opposed to the development applications, that is the job of the final staff report, but it will be used as an additional tool for Planning Staff's final report on these applications. This is an opportunity for increasing the input from residents on not just what they oppose, but what they want to see in the community.
The community and I have made it very clear to the developers that we do not approve of their current applications. Both Great West Life (GWL) and Minto have told us they will be resubmitting their proposals after hearing from the community following the results of the Character Study. While we of course do not know what the developers will resubmit, we hope the new proposal will fit better with the wishes of the neighbourhood.
As you know, the applicants have made an OMB appeal. This does not mean that we are headed straight for an OMB hearing. In fact, following the provincial government's announcements for proposed changes to the OMB, every proposed development in our ward made an appeal to the OMB, with the hopes they are grandfathered in under the current rules. Neither GWL nor Minto have asked for a hearing date, and have stated they will continue to work with residents and the City to submit an improved application.
There was some confusion over a "complete" application vs an approved or final application at Wednesday's meeting. As dictated by the Province, the City must examine all development proposals. For a development proposal to be examined, they must submit a "complete" application, which includes a number of studies for their proposals such as impacts on traffic, sunlight, infrastructure, etc. (All the studies can be found here for Minto, and here for GWL.) When an application is deemed complete, the City will begin its first examination, and the 120 day countdown to a possible OMB appeal begins. This "complete" application does not mean it is will be the final application that goes to the City. In fact, of the large scale developments in our ward, not one has gone through to Council or the OMB with their original proposal since I have been a Councillor.
Long story short, the door is not closed, no final decisions have been made. While I, and the greater community oppose these developments as they currently stand, this Character Study allows residents to solidify in City bylaws not just opposition, but what they want to see in their community. It is an important tool we are able to have moving forward, and I encourage anyone interested to get involved.