Later in April, the City will be undertaking it’s annual prescribed burn in High Park (there wasn’t one though, in 2019). This is a necessary step in maintaining the park ecosystem. A notice will be sent out giving 24 hours’ notice, but for more information, click here.
Our recent survey highlighted the local tree canopy is an important issue with Bloor West Village residents. If you are interested in having some help engaging the community in your tree initiative, LEAF is looking for community partners to collaborate with their Young Urban Forest Leaders (YUFL) program.
YUFL participants will work closely with a community leader over a five-month period (May to September) to host outreach events, plant native species, deliver community events, and educate the community on the importance of native plants for urban wildlife.
To learn more and apply, click here. The deadline for applications is Sunday, 5 April at 11:59 PM. You can also join LEAF for the YUFL Information Session on Thursday, March 12th (6:30 PM to 8:00 PM). Register for the event here.
Find out at this local meeting next month, hosted by Ward 4 Councillor, Gord Perks. The details are as follows:
Monday, February 3rd, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton School – 3rd Floor Staff Room
1515 Bloor Street West (near Dundas West Station)
An accessible entrance is available on the south side of the building on Dundas Street.
The Zoning By-law Amendment application for 2442-2454 Bloor St West has been approved by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
In April 2019, the developer, the City and all of the other parties to the appeal reached a settlement for a 12-storey building on site, which the LPAT approved in principle. The Final Order was held, pending satisfaction of a number of conditions.
Those conditions are set out in Appendix A of the Confidential Report from the City Solicitor adopted at the June 2018 meeting of City Council, which can be read here. All supporting documentation for the Zoning By-law Amendment application, including architectural plans and technical reports, is available online at the City’s Application Information Centre, under “Supporting Documentation” here.
A site plan application, including “streetscaping” at corner of Bloor and Riverview Gardens remains under review and a demolition application for buildings on site is still pending.
On April 23, the originally scheduled Contested Hearing at LPAT (formerly OMB) on this development was converted to a Settlement Conference because the remaining two objecting Party’s had withdrawn. However, the Settlement is conditional on the City’s Transportation Services staff being satisfied the the proposed development will not generate any unacceptable traffic impacts on the immediate neighbourhood.
The key concern here is that the developer is thus far unwilling to have any restrictions placed on the size of stores that could occupy the very large 50,000 sq. ft. of commercial space that will be available. In fact, in its updated traffic study, Plazacorp has indicated that the lower level could be occupied by a mid-size supermarket which would likely generate a great deal more traffic every day than a typical mix of smaller stores. There has been no further word from City Hall on this issue since April 23, but check here for further updates.
Meanwhile, the BWVRA is pleased to report that as a result of separate consultations with City and the developer’s Landscape Architect, an attractive landscape feature / public space has been designed for the corner of Bloor Street and Riverview Gardens. This was the only other outstanding item that the BWVRA wanted addressed before this development proceeds, and our thanks are due to former Councillor Doucette and current Councillor Perks for their help in facilitating the very positive outcome.
An important meeting will be taking place at which the City’s moves to limit the proposed 7-towers in the area north of nearby High Park will be outlined. Here are the details:
Thursday, November 8th, 7-9pm
Grenadier Retirement Residence (2100 Bloor Street West)
Shahrzad Davoudi, an urban designer who participated in the Character Study Working Group will outline the City’s High Park Apartment Neighbourhood Area Urban Design Guidelines and provide an update on the developers’ attempts to challenge those guidelines at the OMB.
There will be a discussion on what would be allowed under those limits, and what the community would want included in counter-proposals from the High Park Community Alliance based on the priorities and needs of local residents. Outgoing Councillor Sarah Doucette, who has been instrumental in fighting for these limits, will also attend. The meeting will be used to honour Sarah for her contributions. The newly-elected Ward 14 Councillor, Gord Perks, has also been invited to attend.
In our last update, we informed the community that a much improved proposal had been submitted by the Developer in late April, which has now become public information. Fortunately, most of BWVRA’s concerns with the previous proposals had been satisfactorily addressed in this latest submission with the exception of these two issues:
- Minimizing potential traffic impacts on the neighbourhood
- Resolving neighbourhood concerns about excessive wind impacts and pedestrian safety at the corner of Riverview Gardens & Bloor Street
With regard to potential traffic impacts, the main concern has been about the very large overall amount of retail space being proposed (approx. 5,000 sq. m.), and the Developer’s unwillingness to accept any restrictions on individual store sizes. We had asked for a limit of 1,750 square meters, as recommended in the recently completed Avenue study, which is a little bit larger than the No-Frills store in the Village but much smaller than a typical Loblaws, Metro or Sobeys. The main issue with a high-volume “big-box” store at this location is the potential impact from excessive traffic, it would be almost certain to generate, on the local street network that is already stretched to its limit.
The second issue about wind impacts and pedestrian safety mainly relates to the proposed removal of the more heavily used sidewalk beside the building on the Riverview Gardens frontage and the proposed retention of the sidewalk next to the road, which is considered unsafe by many local residents.
In any case, these two remaining issues were not considered deal breakers and our Board was anticipating that the third Pre-hearing Conference on June 28th would set the stage for the Mediation sessions scheduled for September 4 & 5. However, much to our surprise and that of the other three Parties, at the Pre-hearing Conference, it was announced that City Council, at its meeting two days earlier and on the recommendation of Planning Staff, made the decision to accept the Developer’s latest proposal.
In addition, the lawyer for the Developer also informed the Pre-hearing that his client was no longer interested in participating in Mediation sessions with the remaining four Parties. As Mediation is voluntary and all Parties must agree to participate, regretfully, this decision effectively put an end to the opportunity for us to participate in a Mediated Settlement.
Under these circumstances, as the only path forward, the four Parties have been given until August 17th to either also settle on the current proposal or present their outstanding issues to the Developer along with the names of the expert witnesses they will call upon should the Appeal proceed to a Contested Hearing.
But there is good news on our two remaining issues!
- On the question of Traffic impacts, in its recent comments on the Developer’s up-dated traffic study, City Traffic staff has been especially critical of the consultant’s findings. In particular, it was noted that there has been no recognition or assessment of the potential additional traffic that may be generated by retail stores in the development, and the capacity of the local street network to accommodate it. After reviewing the staff Memorandum, our Board is satisfied that the City has the traffic issue in hand and the proposed development will not be allowed proceed until staff is satisfied that there will be no significant impact on the local streets.
- With respect to the Riverview Gardens frontage, at the same time as Council agreed to settle with the Developer, Councillor Doucette was able to have a motion passed directing staff to consult with the community during the Site Plan review process, in order to arrive at an acceptable design for that corner.
In view of the very substantial progress on these issues, at a meeting on July 20th our Board made the decision to also accept the current proposal, however, we will retain our standing as a Party to the proceedings, just in case any or all of the other Parties do not agree to settle by the target date of August 17th, which could then lead to a Contested Hearing.
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!
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
The High Park Community Alliance (HPCA) has been informed that the Ontario Municipal Board has scheduled pre-hearing conferences with:
- GWL: Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 at 10:00AM
- Minto: Thursday, February 8th, 2018 at 10:00AM
They will take place at the:
Ontario Municipal Board
655 Bay Street, 16th Floor
HPCA has contacted legal counsel to represent our organization at these important pre-hearing conferences which deal with preliminary and procedural matters, including:
- Identification of parties
- Identification of participants
- Identification of issues
- Possibility of settlement of any or all the issues
- Start date of the hearing
- Duration of the hearing
- Directions for pre-filing of witness lists, expert witness statements and written evidence.
- The hearing of motions
- Such matters as the Board considers appropriate
For more information, read the OMB Pre-hearing Conference Info Sheet. It is important to note that the OMB’s notices state: “If you do not attend the pre-hearing conference, the Ontario Municipal Board may proceed in your absence and you will not be entitled to any further notice of these proceedings.” As noted above, HPCA will be participating in these important pre-hearings.
Individuals are also welcome to attend and will have the opportunity to register as either “parties or participants” at the actual hearings. For more information, read the OMB “Parties and Participants” Info Sheet
We will be discussing strategy/planning for the pre-hearings at the:
HPCA Annual General Meeting
Tuesday, January 23rd at 7:00PM
Grenadier Retirement Residence
2100 Bloor Street West
We hope you will be able to attend.
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.