Victory for Bloor West Residents!
Humber Odeon Re-Development Loses First Round Vote
Etobicoke Community Council voted against the application to re-zone the old Humber Odeon theatre at Jane and Bloor to allow for a 10-storey condo tower. The vote was cheered by the crowd of residents who had packed the hearing room Tuesday night for three hours of passionate presentations and debate.
Though the lawyer for the developer and Cityâ€™s Planner spoke in favour of the project, it was impassioned opposition from Bloor West residents that swayed the vote.
â€œThere are lots of bad buildingsâ€ said resident John Foden, who implored Councillors to â€œstop the decline and choose to build good buildings.â€
More than 10 individuals echoed those sentiments, as did spokesmen for the Swansea Area Ratepayers Association and the Bloor West Village Residents Association.
Most criticized the proposed building as excessively high and too poorly designed to be worthy of the prominent site, which is visible from several kilometers along Bloor Street.
In its submission the BWVRA Executive urged Community Council to prevent â€œthis building from becoming a â€˜despised landmarkâ€ that memorializes the dying days or our flawed development process.â€
Saundercook votes â€œNOâ€
The motion to turn down the re-zoning application was put by Ward 13 Councillor Bill Saundercook who had earlier said he was ready to support it â€œwith conditionsâ€.
But, he reconsidered over the course of the evening. Saundercook said the developer had â€œfailed to convince the community this would be a beautiful building.â€ That, he said, was â€œa critical piece of the puzzle.â€
Itâ€™s not over yet
Several Councillors expressed support for the residents but voted against them saying this is the kind of decision that often gets overturned by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). They warned that the developer could get a higher building from the OMB, and the City would not get the community benefits payments it can still extract from him at this stage.
Tuesdayâ€™s vote was not the final one by the City. The Community Councilâ€™s decision goes to the full Toronto City Council at the end of April for ratification. A Councillor who wants to re-open the debate at that time could still do so. That could result in the project getting the green light, especially if the majority is convinced the case would be lost on an appeal to the OMB. At that time, Councillor Saundercookâ€™s pre-conditions, and those demanded by the Community, would come back into play.
Steve McNally – BWVRA Communications.