Q: What are your goals?
To raise awareness of the potential changes development will bring to Bloor West Village, and to help bring forward resources to the Bloor West Village Residents Association to strongly advocate on residents’ behalf. We bring expertise together, encourage community involvement, and solicit financial support.
Q: But why try to stop development?
We aren’t trying to stop development. Instead, we want to encourage development that takes into account the local character of Bloor West Village. Most of the participants have lived here for many years and love the village. We want to move into the future without losing the past. That is a delicate balance that developer may not always have in mind when putting forward commercial development. While the city owns making sure development fits into the overall policy framework, sometimes decisions don’t always reflect the unique attributes of the area. That is where we come in – to add thousands of voices to the process.
Q: How are the unique local aspects of Bloor West taken into account?
The Official Plan allows for Avenue Studies that are the result of careful discussion with local residents and ultimately form a guide for local development. We don’t have one for Bloor West Village. Council Doucette is working on commissioning one, but funds are tight. Until then, each development is looked at inside an Avenue Segment Study – a requirement for rezoning applications and provided by the developer. Though they are created by an independent planning consultancy, they do not provide the broad and comprehensive perspective that a Avenue Study provides.
Q: What is our local councilor doing?
Sarah Doucette has been working very hard to keep residents aware of what is going on. She has attended all of the working group sessions, put on sessions to educate residents about the process, worked to connect city resources (planners, solicitors) with local residents. She listens carefully to our concerns and is taking them to the appropriate groups.
Q: Isn’t the city already opposing these developments?
The city doesn’t oppose development; instead, its Official Plan specifically encourages intensification along Avenues, which Bloor West Village is one. That is why the outdated local zoning laws governing development are ignored – everyone knows that taller buildings can be approved, but it isn’t clear how tall is acceptable. Because the bylaws are outdated, nearly every development requires a rezoning application. The city’s official position on 1990 Bloor will be published shortly. We expect it to oppose development for that property.
Q: So… what’s the big deal then?
The ultimate decision is not held by the city. The developer has the option to take the application to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). In fact, 1990 Bloor was appealed to the OMB very shortly after the 120 days the city had to respond expired. While the city is likely to participate and oppose development if the application stays the same, that position could change.
Q: So we need to participate in every development?
The first few are key – they can set a precedent for the whole neighbourhood. In fact, the city quotes this as a possibility in its preliminary reports for 1990 and 2114. So yes, in the short term we need to actively participate in each one.
Q: How do I learn more about the process?
There isn’t a good site online that outlines how all of these pieces fit together (if you know of one, let us know!). Here is a brief summary:
- Developers submit an application for rezoning [nearly all require rezoning, due to zoning laws that do not match intensification plans – another story]
- The city considers the application and issues a preliminary report
- The preliminary report makes recommendations, which go to Community Council for a vote
- The city has 120 days to issue a final report before the developer has the right to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board
- If the application is appealed to the OMB, the city no longer owns making the decision. Instead, the City Solicitor looks to Community Council to vote on a report that likely recommends appearing at OMB to defend its position. Typically when the developer appeals so quickly they anticipate a negative decision from the city and suspect OMB support; this speeds up the process for the developer.
- If the application is not appealed by the developer to the OMB, the city issues its final report. That report is voted on by Community Council, and then by Council.
- A vote against the application denies it. The developer can choose to appeal it to OMB.
- A vote for the application allows it. Participants can appeal that decision to OMB, including residents.
Q: How does OMB work?
The OMB is complex. While residents can appeal decisions and participate in the process, to have any weight residents must incorporate and seek Party status. Professional Experts are then hired and heard by the OMB. Trials typically last 5 – 10 days. They are a significant time investment and require a lot of resources. So which technically residents can appeal, it takes a very organized and well-funded group of residents to be successful. That’s where we come in.