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:
- NDI will reduce the impact of the front angular plane of the top storey with any space savings from the current mechanical penthouse
- NDI will consult with BWVRA during the preparation of the site plan
- NDI will not seek to increase the height or density in the future
- NDI will not rely on this settlement as a precedent for future developments
- NDI will address the privacy concerns with respect to 2000 Bloor and the amenity space
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.