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East York people, places, events & insights

EY ADVOCATE 034: Will it ever end?

Endless appeals allowed under Planning Act put EY family on bureaucratic merry-go-round

Have you ever received a NOTICE from city council’s Committee of Adjustment informing you that your next door neighbour wants to build an addition on his house and needs a “minor variance” from the zoning by-laws in order to do so?

In 2015 a Queensdale Avenue family got one of those notices and immediately realized that the “minor variance” requested by their next door neighbour would have a drastic impact on their own property.  Fortunately for the family, when they attended the Committee of Adjustment hearing their next door neighbour did not show up and, after hearing what the family had to say about the drastic impact the requested “minor variance” would have on their property, the committee rejected the proposal on the grounds that the requested variance was not “minor.”

The Queensdale family then breathed a sigh of relief until the following year, 2016, when they got another notice for virtually the same “minor variance.”  Again the family and their supporters on Queensdale went to the Committee of Adjustment for a second time on the same proposal.  This time their next door neighbour did show up, but after listening to everyone the committee once more rejected the application on the grounds it was not “minor”.

But then, however, the applicant appealed the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).  For the third time, the Queensdale family prepared for a hearing on the same proposal and told the OMB of the drastic impact this “minor variance” would have on their property.  After a full hearing the OMB dismissed their next door neighbour’s appeal.

At last, thought the Queensdale family, the matter had been put to rest.  But this year, 2017, another notice arrived.  Once more their next door neighbour had applied for virtually the same “minor variance,” on the theory, no doubt, that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, again.

By now, even the city planners had had enough.  In his report to the Committee of Adjustment prior to the third hearing on virtually the same proposal, the planner said, “this variance is not a minor one.

“The proposal is not desirable for appropriate development or use of land or buildings.  The same person has made two previous applications to the Committee and was turned down both times.  In addition he had filed an Appeal to the OMB.  A hearing was held and a decision rendered October 20. 2016.  The Board again denied his decision for rezoning.  This is basically the same application.  It is important to note what appears to be a told contempt for the Committee, in our opinion.” [sic: the planner writing].

“On the first hearing he wasted everyone’s time by not showing up.  On this current application he clearly states there have been ‘NO’ previous applications.  And hence misinforms the Committee of the fact that there have been three previous denials of basically the same applications.”

The planner’s report then goes on to detail 12 specific reasons “why this is not a ‘minor variance’ and why it is not desirable or appropriate.”

When the Committee of Adjustment held its third hearing on basically the same application, the Queensdale family attended for what for them was the fourth time in three years.  At this hearing their next door neighbour was clearly not well prepared or organized, throwing papers and yelling so that the committee panel had to ask him to back away from them on three separate occasions.  Understandably, the committee again rejected the application on the grounds that it did not constitute a minor variance.

Surely now the Queensdale family’s ordeal was over at long last.  Not so fast!  After defending their property four times on the same proposal, this summer they received a further NOTICE of APPEAL.  When the appeal is heard on January 8, 2018, it will be the fifth time round for the Queensdale family.  Worse yet, under the new rules it appears that even if the applicant loses for the fifth time, he has yet another right of appeal to the new Toronto Local Appeal Body for a further rehashing.

If this happened to you would you keep fighting or throw up your hands and surrender even though it would have a drastic impact on your property and the enjoyment you have had from it for the last 30 years.  Be honest now.

When is enough, enough?  In a court of law it would be called abuse of process and the applicant penalized severely with costs.  Apparently, however, with the Ontario Planning Act there is never an end and the applications and appeals can go on forever.

Hey Listen Up!