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East York Advocate 035: Decisions made at City Hall and by the Province aren’t truly local!

New provincial appeals board’s adherence to Smart Growth Act will undermine local EY neighbours’ wishes and concerns

www.alanredway.comHave you ever heard someone complain about the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)?

Well, as of last May, appeals from decisions of Committee of Adjustments in Toronto are now heard by Toronto’s own Local Appeal Board (LAO) rather than the OMB.  We can only wait to see if this new board will be more sympathetic to neighbours’ concerns.

However, appeals from all other planning decisions continue to be heard by the OMB.  But, according to Premier Kathleen Wynne, that will soon be over.  “Planning decisions have to be made locally,” she says.

To accomplish that the Ontario government plans to replace the OMB with what it calls the Local Planning Appeal Board (LPAT).  The LPAT, the Province says, will provide a faster, fairer, more affordable and friendly process for residents who want to appeal planning decisions.  Doesn’t that sound really good?

To East Yorkers, planning decisions made locally has always meant that the local community decides where higher density housing is to be built.  In East York that meant Crescent Town and Thorncliffe.  But apparently, “planning decisions made locally” doesn’t mean the same to the Province as it does to East Yorkers because when you or I appeal to the LPAT our appeal will fail if it doesn’t comply with the Provincial Smart Growth Act, because that’s what the legislation creating the new LPAT says.

The Smart Growth Act has been in place for almost 15 years.  It requires the City of Toronto to increase housing densities and recently a provincial committee headed by former Toronto Mayor David Crombie has recommended even greater densities for our megacity.  The Toronto Official Plan is on all fours with the Smart Growth Act and can be —and often is— amended to meet that LPAT test when the Toronto planners decide that a community should have increased housing density.

So because of amalgamation, the Province defines “local” as meaning the City of Toronto rather than the East York community.  This is fine if you want higher housing density in your community but in times past —with the exception of Crescent Town and Thorncliffe which were planned originally for high density— that was the last thing East Yorkers wanted.

If you live in Woodbine Gardens, for example, you should be aware of the fight waged by your neighbours to stop high-rise apartment construction in the Rexleigh ravine.  Your neighbours understood that planning decisions made locally means made in your own community, not made at Queen’s Park and downtown at Toronto City Hall.  The new LPAT would have approved high-rise apartments in the Rexleigh ravine because they would have conformed to the Provincial Smart Growth Act.

If you live in Governor’s Bridge, you should be aware of the fight waged by your neighbours to stop the Bayview Ghost development plan to construct eleven 7-storey apartment buildings rather than the 62 detached homes on that site today.  Your neighbours understood that planning decisions made locally means made in your own community not made at Queen’s Park and downtown at Toronto City Hall.  The new LPAT would have approved that development because the eleven apartment buildings would have conformed to the Provincial Smart Growth Act.

If you live in Bennington Heights or Leaside you should be aware of the fight waged by your neighbours to stop Cadillac Developments and Belmont Construction from replacing 46 detached homes on Mallory Crescent with three 22-storey and two 29-storey apartment buildings containing a total of 1382 suites.  Your neighbours understood that decisions made locally means made in made in your own community not made at Queen’s Park and downtown at Toronto City Hall.  The new LPAT would have approved that development because the 1382 apartment suites replacing the 46 detached homes would have conformed to the Provincial Smart Growth Act.

If you live in the Colligate Community you should be aware of the fight waged by your neighbours to stop Hemus Developments from building apartments on the north side of O’Connor Drive west of the Woodbine Bridge where detached homes are today.  Your neighbours understood that decisions made locally mean made in your own community not made at Queen’s Park and downtown at Toronto City Hall.  The new LPAT would have approved the Hemus development because apartments would have conformed to the Provincial Smart Growth Act.

I don’t know what the words, “planning decisions should be made locally” mean to you but to me they don’t mean that planning decisions should be made at Queen’s Park and Toronto City Hall.

Hey Listen Up!
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