March 24 Bloor Street West Planning Meeting

Councillor Doucette committed at the 2265 Community Meeting to organizing a meeting to update and inform residents about local developments, and the Heritage nomination put forward. Here is her invitation:

I hope you will join me and City Planning staff at my Bloor Street West Planning Meeting later this month. I have invited staff to come and discuss the planning context of Bloor and tools the City and community can use to help direct growth while preserving what we love about Bloor St West.

Please bring your ideas and questions and join me:
Date: Tuesday, March 24
Time: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Location: Humberside CI (280 Quebec Avenue)

The following recent announcements are relevant to the meeting:

June 4th: Provincial Election Debates High Park Candidates

This is a great neighbourhood! Let’s help keep it that way! The development at 2265 Bloor has just been appealed to the OMB. Perhaps now is a good time to ask our candidates how they intend to help grow our neighbourhood while maintaining its unique character!

Hear their views on the issues. Ask your questions.

  • The BWVRA Annual General Meeting will take place prior to the debate. BWVRA Members, and those wishing to join, are asked to arrive by 7:00 pm for a vote on the slate of candidates for the the Executive and the new President.
  • Elevator access available via the North parking lot.
  • The BWVRA exists to provide a forum for local residents to voice and debate issues of importance to the Bloor West Village community. Visit www.bwvra.ca

Announcing Bloor West Village Heritage Nomination

At the end of last year we submitted a Heritage Conservation District Nomination For Bloor West. A copy of the submission is available here under Heritage in the navigate.

Here is a copy of our SOV HCD Flyer.

The next step in the process is a Community Meeting:

Bloor West Heritage Nomination Community Meeting
April 14 @ 7pm
Grenadier Retirement Residence
2100 Bloor Street West

Here is a copy of the submission letter:

Dear Mr. Scott Barrett,

On behalf of the HCD Working Group and Bloor West Village Residents Association I would like to thank you once again for your presentation and support for the establishment of HCDs at our meeting with the Bloor West BIA. Your knowledge and experience related to HCDs within the City was both valuable and encouraging as a means of identifying and protecting our significant cultural landscapes.

Please find attached our submission for an HCD Nomination of the Bloor West Village area as defined in the document. We believe the area has a distinct character which is threatened by current and future development that may not be compatible to the area’s existing character. Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, spoke this past spring, at a meeting of the Bloor West Village Residents Association (BWVRA), whereby she identified Bloor West Village as a distinct and special area. She further stated that one of the preferred tools to help manage change within the area would be the establishment of a heritage conservation district. The HCD Working Group and BWVRA agree with Ms. Keesmaat and is therefore submitting this nomination for the City to consider Bloor West Village as an HCD study area. As you know, the BWVRA has been working closely with three other resident groups which border the Bloor Street West corridor; High Park Residents Association, Swansea Area Ratepayers Association, and the Old Mill Community Association. The attached Nomination is a collaborative effort, equally shared by all four resident groups.

We realize this is a long term planning process and we look forward to working with you, Heritage Preservation Services, and other Planning staff to achieve our goal of identifying, protecting and interpreting Bloor West Village as a heritage conservation district.

Should you have any questions or concerns about the Nomination please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned, or Mr. Mark Warrack, mark.warrack@bell.net.

Sincerely,

Dianne Bradley, President
Bloor West Village Residents Association
dianne.bradley@sympatico.ca

BWVRA Reaches a Settlement on 1990 Bloor West Condo Proposal

With your help, and with the hard work of our professional team, the SOV steering committee has reached a settlement with North Drive Investments re: 1990 Bloor St. West. This will avoid a showdown at the Ontario Municipal Board and, we hope, set the stage for substantive future input by residents.

Here are the main elements of the settlement:

  1. NDI will reduce the impact of the front angular plane of the top storey with any space savings from the current mechanical penthouse
  2. NDI will consult with BWVRA during the preparation of the site plan
  3. NDI will not seek to increase the height or density in the future
  4. NDI will not rely on this settlement as a precedent for future developments
  5. NDI will address the privacy concerns with respect to 2000 Bloor and the amenity space
  6. NDI will compensate BWVRA $20,000 for professional solutions proposed by its SOV team

In addition to these BWVRA specific settlement items, the other changes previously negotiated and part of the proposed settlement vote are still included. We will share a complete summary next month.

Why settle?

  1. NDI had a strong case for a higher building than the community wanted: 1990 Bloor is located beside a TTC station; has to contain 24 replacement rental units; and sits in front of a tall mid-rise building at 20 Gothic Ave. The OMB would no doubt have been sympathetic.
  2. The City’s Planning Department accepted these arguments and, after requesting certain other changes, dropped its opposition. That meant we lost our strongest partner in the OMB challenge. As a result, our lawyer and planner felt our chances very slim of getting additional improvements. Further challenge at OMB, based solely on the principles that drove our efforts would have, we decided, used up the money you donated and would likely have yielded nothing.
  3. There are many buildings to come, including the one already proposed by NDI for 2114 Bloor. We need to ensure that have the resources for future challenges.

More Detail?

SOV will have a seat at the final Site Plan sessions between the Developer and the City. This is unusual, and it’s why we expect more improvements. And, because the lawyer and planner you helped hire produced a number of valuable counter-proposals that helped NDI reach a settlement with the City, the Developer has agreed to refund our professional expenses to the tune of $20,000. That means we retain the ability to take NDI’s second condo proposal (for 2114 Bloor West) to the OMB, should that become necessary. We felt that was important because the second proposal is closer to the heart of Bloor West Village and does not have the unique characteristics that worked in NDI’s favour at 1990 Bloor.

Are we satisfied?

It’s said a good settlement is usually one that nobody is especially pleased with. Our primary goal of getting more of a height reduction was not achieved. But, as our lawyer Ian Flett put it, “BWVRA showed its strength in this process by making numerous demands towards settlement which were accepted. We also had to make some compromises. But in the end, the parties decided the final outcome of this appeal rather than leaving it all up to a single member of the OMB. To its credit, NDI did the same. Now, the next step is to build on this settlement so that NDI can partner with its neighbours and develop in a way that only serves to strengthen Bloor West Village.”

We take comfort in a few things. Our team of volunteers and professionals established the SOV Coalition as a credible force to be reckoned with. We had serious discussion with City Planning, which agreed with many of our points and picked up several of our proposed solutions.

Our Councillor Sarah Doucette supported our work, most recently attempting to oppose the vote at community council, and we thank her for that. With her support, and with a capable professional team, NDI saw that it had to offer something to avoid completely alienating the community and facing a very rough ride at the OMB – and we are glad they came as far as they did.

As we go ahead, we have a war chest to fund a future fight, if necessary. And we have broad community awareness about the need to engage, or see Bloor West Village re-shaped by high rise condos.

So, there have been a lot of positive outcomes.

The future?

We all need to worry about the height precedent set in this case. NDI and others are eying the many other possible re-development properties in Bloor West Village – as we said, NDI already has a second application on the table with the City. The City in this case did not vigorously defend the Mid-Rise Guidelines that would have limited 1990 Bloor to 8-stories. We plan to work with the City and our Councillor to get those guidelines fully adopted for Bloor West Village.

Closing Thoughts

We residents clearly face some larger challenges – the provincial policy that new development must be concentrated along transit lines, and the sad reality that what is built here can be decided by a single member of the Ontario Municipal Board. Avoiding the latter gives everyone involved a stake in working toward a settlement. It was not the outcome we’d hoped for, but it could have been worse. We have to turn our efforts now to mitigating the impact of this new building and getting some better planning tools in place for Bloor West Village.

Thanks for your support. Without it, we’d be in a much more difficult spot.

Vote Lost: 1990 Bloor West at Community Council

We lost an important vote on Tuesday (Nov 19/13) in our quest to reduce the impact of an over-sized condo building proposed for 1990 Bloor West at the Parkview Gdns. TTC station.

The Etobicoke York Community Council (a committee of West end City Councillors) accepted a settlement reached between the City’s Planning staff and the developer, North Drive Investments. We and our Councillor Sarah Doucette had asked that the deal be rejected because none of our final concerns were addressed.

The Councillor, the Chair of the BWVRA, and the lawyer hired by the BWVRA and the Save Our Village coalition spoke to the need to avoid establishing a precedent that sets the stage for the creation of a condo canyon along the Bloor West Village retail avenue. We remain seriously concerned that this building will soon be copied by the same developer as he pushes ahead with an application made for 2114 Bloor (next to the Grenadier Retirement home).

Under pressure from our side, the developer has made some concessions. The considerable efforts of our team have meant improvements for the people who would have to live beside and behind this building. However, our concern for the whole of the Bloor West Village neighbourhood is also important.

This vote at Community Council still has to be ratified by the full City Council.

We are meeting with our urban planner, legal counsel, and Councillor Doucette to discuss our next moves. Because the developer has still not reached a settlement with the BWVRA, we are likely to go to the OMB, opposing both the developer and the City planner on the file. The hearing dates are set for February.

To make a compelling case, we’ll need even more financial support from the community – so please take a moment now to make a donation, even a modest one, to the SOV fund.

Your support so far has sustained our volunteers through a lot and allowed us to pull together a thoroughly professional team that has achieved real, if so far partial, solutions to concerns about this building.

We will be in touch as we prepare for the next stage.

Thank you very much!

1990 Bloor Street: Settlement Proposed

Our last major communication was last month when we held a community session to update everyone on the development at 1990 Bloor. We acknowledge you haven’t heard much, and that is because the details of the negotiations have been confidential until the recent release of the proposed settlement. Much has happened, and here is the update.

We have been in intense negotiations with the city and NDI on the application for 1990 Bloor. Our professional advisors have been very much involved and we are grateful for their advice. Careful negotiation is what helps improve the building and keeps us at the table.

Here is a summary of the main areas of progress:

  1. The rear of the building has been reduced to limit the shadow impact on the parkette north of the building
  2. Based on the suggestions and guidance from our planner, the portion of the building facing 2000 Bloor has been redesigned to remove the portion at the rear that overlapped with 2000 Bloor
  3. Building height has been reduced by 6.3 metres (20 feet) – 11 storeys incorporating the mechanical penthouse into the 11th floor
  4. The gross floor area has been reduced 17% from the original proposal, and the number of units reduced by 20%
  5. A Natural Heritage Impact Study is now required
You can read the motion here and read the detailed staff report here.

We and the City are still parties at the OMB opposing the developer’s appeal. City staff are satisfied now with the changes to the proposal and have recommended Community Council and ultimately City Council settle on those terms, but City staff does not speak for City Council or us. While we acknowledge the developer has made compromises from where it began, we are not yet satisfied those compromises are enough.

We are keeping the details of our negotiations with the developer confidential to maintain a good faith dialogue with them. We are asking for further changes so that we might all avoid the significant expense and unpredictable outcome of the OMB.

There is a motion planned for next Tuesday at Community Council to change the city’s stance from opposition to support at OMB, based on this settlement proposal. If we don’t see further change between now and next week, we are looking to our councilor and her peers to vote against the motion and maintain the city’s stance of opposing the applicant at OMB. That means we can fight the application together. Not having the city onside represents a massive hurdle to overcome.

It is important to note that discussions occur daily at this point and a compromise that we are satisfied with is possible right up to the vote next week. But we felt it important to share where things are at right now.

Thank you for your support so far. This is a long, long battle and we are still relatively early in the process. Let’s stay prepared for much more to come.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
  1. We need help at that November 19th meeting. Your presence helps the Councillors understand the community’s concern about this building, and its precedent-setting impact on Bloor West Village. You won’t have to speak. If you can make it, please email us and we will loop you in on further details. The meeting starts at 9:30am, Tuesday, November 19th,  Council Chamber, Etobicoke Civic Centre, Main Floor, 399 West Mall.If you wish to speak you will have to notify the Clerk the day before by e-mail, address below.
  2. You can also lend your support to our request by email. Send to the Clerk at the address below requesting each Councillor be provided a copy. Sign it with your name and address.
    Office of Clerk Uli Watkiss – reference item EY29.6
    e-mail etcc@toronto.ca
  3. You should also share your concerns now with Councillor Sarah Doucette if you haven’t already. Something brief works well. Her email address is  councillor_doucette@toronto.ca. Please cc savebloorwest@gmail.com so we have a record.

Condo Update: Next Monday @ 7:30pm

You are invited to attend a Resident Meeting next Monday Sept 30th at 7:30pm at the Grenadier Retirement Home. We have invited our Planner, Peter Swinton and lawyer, Ian Flett to join us so we can share our perspective and position with you. The OMB hearing is coming up in December, and a city council meeting in early October may provide the catalyst for each party solidifying their positions for the hearing.

MARK THE DATE
Monday September 30th @7:30pm.
Grenadier Retirement Centre
2100 Bloor St West ( corner of Clendendan- opposite Starbucks)

Sarah Doucette will also be attending to share her views and to field questions on this. We want to hear from you as we are reaching a critical time frame before the OMB hearing. Discussions are ongoing between BWVRA, the City Planning Department and the NDI, the developer.

We have had a busy summer working to raise money – you may have seen us on Bloor on the weekends and at local meetings. We wish to thank you for your generous donations and support for our Save Our Village campaign. To date we have raised over $26,000 towards the costs of hiring our team of professionals and preparing for the OMB hearing concerning 1990 Bloor St West. While this is a substantial contribution, a hearing will cost at least another $15,000.

This is your opportunity to provide feedback to us and your Councillor on this and future development in our area. You are entitled to a voice in shaping the direction of development in BWV. Come to listen, speak your mind, make a donation, sign up for a lawn sign or renew your Membership.

We will see you there!

Join the event on Facebook

50% Funding Raised!

We are thrilled to announce that we have reached 50% of our funding goal, with $20,000 raised to date. Thank you to the more than 100 people that have put in donations! The Save Our Village team has spent many of the past weekends out in Bloor West Village, and the feedback has been very positive. Together we have pulled together half of the investment required to retain the best team to bring our important perspective to the Ontario Municipal Board.

The OMB hearing is scheduled for December 2nd, which gives us several more months to finish the funding drive and dive into engaging our team of experts to pull evidence together for the trial. The city remains opposed to the applicant but conversations continue and that can change. The Bloor West Village Residents Association remain commitment to responsible development for our neighbourhood. We want to refresh the area, but don’t want to see 10+ storey condos replacing the village that we all love.

Thank you for your continued support. If you haven’t donated yet, please take a moment to do it now. We will get there together!

OMB Team Announced: Peter Swinton & Ian Flett

Our extensive evaluation process is complete and we are thrilled to announce that we have retained our core team:

Legal: Ian Flett (Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation)
Planning: Peter Swinton (PMG Planning Consultants)

Both are trusted professionals with extensive experience at the Ontario Municipal Board. We are looking to bring additional subject matter expertise on board as required for particular areas of concern (for example, environmental impacts). Currently the team is working through our issue list and procedural order requirements that are part of preparing for the hearing itself. The Bloor West Village Residents Association is one of three Parties identified at the OMB pre-conference hearing on May 28th (along with the developers North Drive Investments and the City of Toronto). When the final results of the pre-conference hearing are available, we will post them online here.

About Peter Swinton

Founded in 1969, PMG offers 40 years of experience working on a wide spectrum of residential, commercial, industrial and institutional projects. The type of work carried out includes Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments, Committee of Adjustment approvals (both minor variance and consent applications), Site Plan Control Applications, Plans of Subdivision as well as project management of all municipal approval requirements. PMG has significant experience in the planning of subdivisions, commercial site plans and residential high-rise communities, including work for large developer clients throughout the Greater Toronto Area. PMG also has extensive Ontario Municipal Board experience, and offers a broad range Urban Design servicesI would like to thank you for asking PMG to prepare a proposal to provide

Peter Swinton has extensive experience as a Senior Urban Designer with the City of Toronto and City of Scarborough prior to amalgamation, as a developer of lands in the Collingwood area, and as a Planner and Urban Designer in private sector consulting. While at the City of Toronto from 1998 to 2003, he was the Senior Urban Designer reviewing development applications for the lands in the west section of the South District, including parts of Bloor West Village. Peter is qualified to give expert opinion Planning and Urban Design evidence before the OMB, and has been involved in cases before the Board, both in support and against PMG Planning Consultants development applications, since 1994.

About Ian Flett

Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation is a boutique law firm with an established focus on environmental law, planning law and other aspects of administrative law. The firm employs six lawyers who prepare pleadings and represent clients at all levels of court and various tribunals including the Ontario Municipal Board.

Ian Flett is an associate at Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation. He focuses the majority of his time on the firm’s land planning and municipal law practice. Ian appears regularly before the OMB and the courts on matters ranging from concerns with development applications to judicial reviews. Ian dedicates a part of his practice to pro bono work improving Toronto’s bicycle infrastructure.

OMB Prehearing Conference: Tuesday May 28th

The OMB prehearing starts tomorrow morning at 10am. The Bloor West Village Residents Association will attend and register as a Party to represent the interests of the neighbourhood. If you would like to participate, you can attend as well:

Ontario Municipal Board
655 Bay Street, 16th Floor
Toronto, ON  M5G 1E5

The prehearing conference starts at 10am.

Participants can add important direct context for 1990 Bloor and the impact the proposed building will have on the surrounding neighbourhood.

From the OMB site: “A participant is a person, group or corporation that may choose to attend only part of the proceedings but makes a statement to the Board on all or some of the issues in the hearing. One does not need to have given oral or written submissions at council or with the committee of adjustment to be added as a participant.”