It’s been awhile since we’ve posted an update on the Humber Theatre Proposal, but that doesn’t mean the BWVRA hasn’t been busy! Quite the opposite! Your Association, along with the four other parties to the proceedings, has had several productive discussions with the developer. Progress is being made and there is optimism that a negotiated settlement may be within reach. The developer has been meeting with us on a “without prejudice” basis which means, unfortunately, we are unable to make any public disclosure of our progress. We’re hopeful that we’ll be in a position to provide more details in time for our Annual General Meeting on May 10th, which will feature one of our always successful Candidate Debates, in advance of the upcoming Provincial Election. We thank you again for your continuing support!
Neighbourhood Character Guidelines for Bloor West Village
First of all, a big thank you (again), to everyone who responded to our survey last October. The exceptionally high response rate of nearly 50 % of the households that were contacted, indicates how much we care about the look and feel of our neighbourhoods. As importantly, the feedback received helped to inform the recommendations of the concurrent study which is now complete and posted here for your information.
For those who are not familiar with this initiative, the Bloor West Village Neighbourhood Character Guidelines project was carried out as the first step to assist the City in implementing guidelines that will help ensure that future large home renovations and re-builds respect and reinforce the existing character of our neighbourhoods. The study area which coincided with the BWVRA catchment area, was bordered by Bloor Street to the south, Quebec Avenue to the east, Annette Street and Humberview Road to the north, and the Humber River to the west.
Generally speaking, our neighbourhood is a walkers’ paradise. But surprisingly, a publicly available scoring system can add nuance from one street to the next; even from one house number to the next. You can learn more here and see how many steps you have to go.
Could be. Click here for the City of Toronto study.
The 2nd Pre-Hearing Conference took place last week on February 8th, at which representatives for the developer and the five Parties to the Appeal, reiterated their interest in a Board-assisted Mediation process. However, the presiding Board Member, citing the current overwhelming workload and lack of capacity at the OMB, was once again unable to offer a date for this to take place. Even more significantly, no assurances were given that the Board would be able to assist in Mediation within the foreseeable future. Instead, the Board Member offered a 3rd Pre-Hearing Conference scheduled for June 28th, 2018.
Plazacorp’s lawyer then declared that his client would be willing to engage in discussions directly with the five Parties in an effort to converge on a revised proposal that would be satisfactory to everyone prior to June 28th. Should this initiative succeed, the expectation is that the 3rd Pre-Hearing Conference could then be converted to a Settlement Hearing. If no agreement is reached by then, the Developer could request more time for informal negotiations, ask again for an OMB-assisted Mediation or, as a last resort, request a date for a Contested Hearing.
In view of the inability of the OMB to assist in a negotiated settlement, BWVRA remains cautiously optimistic that frank and productive discussions will take place with the Developer over the next several months. To help facilitate this dialogue, our Association will also be reaching out to the Swansea Area Ratepayers Association (SARA) to explore issues that we have in common, and if possible, present a united front on behalf of all the residents of Bloor West Village.
In the meantime, you may have noticed the new “You Asked?” section on our website, where we share frequently asked questions and responses to them. We continue to encourage your feedback which is crucial to informing the positions your Association will be representing in the up-coming negotiations.
- If you aren’t already a member in good standing, please consider joining
- Donate to help us reach our new target of $30,000
- Attend the fundraiser preview performance of the mystery play “Tainted Justice” at the Village Playhouse on March 1st, 8:00 PM
Why is the BWVRA concerned only with the height and bulk of the proposed Humber Theatre development and not with the quality of the building architecture?
Our Association is acutely aware of the opportunity this highly visible location at the western end of the Village presents for a special landmark building incorporating distinctive architecture and high quality exterior finishes. Unfortunately the Planning Act of Ontario, that sets out the rules for regulating new development, provides our City Planners with very limited authority, and no effective opportunities for residents, to influence the architectural details and the quality of the finishes on any given proposal. Therefore, these important aspects of a development are left almost entirely to the discretion of the proponent.
However, the Planning Act does empower municipalities, communities within them as well as individual residents, with considerable latitude to influence the ultimate built form of new developments. Therefore, this is what decisions to approve or not approve, at both City Council and the OMB, are usually all about. So that is where BWVRA focuses its efforts, when we believe that a proposed re-development does not respect the pedestrian-friendly scale and mid-rise context of Bloor West Village.
Our goal of $20,000 has been achieved!
On behalf of the Bloor West Village Residents Association, we are very pleased to announce that we have achieved our goal of $20,000 by January 31st! In the past week we received an additional twenty donations that took us over the top! This money will be crucial in helping to cover the costs leading up to next week’s OMB Hearing and beyond. Thank you, once again, to everyone who has stepped up and supported us in the campaign to date!
Does the BWVRA support the re-opening of Riverview Gardens north-bound from the South Kingsway?
The decision to close the north-bound access to Riverview Gardens was made as a concession to the Old Mill neighbourhood at the time when the # 1 and #2 Old Mill condo proposals were approved a number of years ago. This closure was negotiated by the now defunct Old Mill Residents Association in response to an emerging problem of traffic short-cutting through the Old Mill neighbourhood, which was expected to become even worse with the realignment of the intersection. As a result of this measure, Riverview Gardens was restored to its historical function as a local residential street with moderate traffic levels.
In the meantime, should the currently proposed Humber Theatre re-development proceed, it is recognized that traffic may increase substantially on the public laneway behind #1 and #2 Old Mill, as it would be the most direct access to that building for traffic from the south. BWVRA supports any initiative that encourages the City to have this issue properly re-assessed and to prescribe a solution that ensures there will be no significant increase in traffic levels on the residential streets within the Old Mill neighbourhood.
The Bloor West Village Residents Association is pleased to announce the receipt of a generous donation of $2,500 from the Sidorova Inwood Team. You may have noticed we were also featured in their current realtor ad on page 17 of the January Home News. We’re grateful and thankful to have leaders such as them in our Bloor West business community supporting our campaign.
A big “THANK YOU” to those of you who included a donation to the Save Our Village fundraising campaign on your To-Do List last month! In December, we raised just over $4,300 which has helped take us closer to our $20,000 goal. We still have a ways to go, so please help us with your donation by clicking here, and also let us know if you’d like a lawn sign to show your support.
The first Pre-hearing Conference was held on September 28, 017, during which a number of Parties and Participants were identified and registered by the OMB. As importantly Plazacorp, the developer, asked for Mediation but did not request an alternative date for a Contested Hearing, should Mediation fail. BWVRA has interpreted this as positive sign, that the applicant would like to expedite a negotiated settlement; however, with an unusually large number of five Parties being involved, and with many divergent interests to address, this is not expected to be easy.
In the mean time, through consultations with our Members and with the advice of our Lawyer and Planner, we have been preparing to be able to clearly articulate the community’s interests when further negotiations, and possibly formal OMB Mediation, take place. Negotiated settlements are usually dependent on all of the Parties narrowing down their focus to two or three key issues that matter to them most. From the perspective of BWVRA, these are as follows:
- The proposed building is much too high, bulky and out-of-scale for the location,
- Predicted shadow impacts on the adjacent neighbourhood are unacceptable
- Wind tunnelling is already a concern at street-level, and the additional impacts of the proposed building need to be understood and properly addressed.
Our next date with the OMB is the second Pre-hearing Conference scheduled for February 7, 018. Watch for further updates, before and immediately after that date, on the progress of informal negotiations that may take place, along with the scheduled date for Mediation, should this step be needed.
This holiday season, the entire Bloor West Village Residents Association would like to thank you for all the confidence you have shown in us throughout the year. We are especially thankful for the donations we have received towards the Humber Theatre redevelopment. We are getting closer to our goal of $20,000.00 by December 31, 2017, but we’re not quite there!
We realize that this is a very busy time, you’re engaged in holiday planning and many organizations are reaching out to you for donations. A contribution to the Save Our Village fund is an investment in your neighbourhood and a future that includes sustainable, integrated and community supported development that will complement the Bloor West Village community. Your $200 donation will help us to pay for the time required by our legal and planning professionals.
Please donate today!
With all our best wishes,
Jamie Isbister, Chair BWVRA