A Town Hall meeting was held at 65 Spring Garden Ave. to explain how amendments at Sheppard Centre and 4917/4975 Yonge St. would affect the area. Councillor John Filion was the invited speaker.
4917/4975 Yonge St.
In 2005 the Ontario Municipal Board approved a development plan for the block bounded by Yonge St., Hollywood Ave., Doris Ave. and Spring Garden Ave. This was for two 36-storey residential buildings and a 24-storey residential building. Since this time two of the buildings have been built. There have been amendments relating to the one building not yet built. It was explained that approval is currently being sought to increase the height of this building to 114 metres.
The Sheppard Centre redevelopment is explained in a separate article in this issue of Yonge-Sheppard Condominium News. This redevelopment includes a new apartment rental building, fewer parking spaces and an expanded retail area.
There was no discussion about what may be the most important concern. How will these developments impact on Greenfield Ave., Doris Ave., Spring Garden Ave., Yonge St. and Sheppard Ave. traffic problems. These streets are heavily congested and unable to accommodate additional traffic without negative implications. There is also an impact of more people in the area on local infrastructure including subway, parks and schools.
Mr. Filion explained that city planning and transportation department staff review development applications. They tend to look at requests in isolation without considering community impact. For this reason the staff reviewing development applications may not understand traffic problems or the impact a development approval will have on roadways or the broader community.
Rethinking How to Oppose Bad Development
Perhaps opposition to development would be more successful by focusing on the education of city planners. City planners may not be aware of local concerns or the impact of a specific development on the area. This would require that relationships be developed in advance of development applications being submitted.
Once an application has been submitted, community representatives can work more closely with city planning and transportation staff assigned to the application. These individuals can be educated so they understand the impact specific developments are likely to have on the community. They could be encouraged to see the problem(s) “on site” before focusing on details as presented in an application.
The goal would be to get city officials to better understand the problems they create when considering a single application and not considering the broader implications.
When successful at obtaining the support of city staff, there is a greater likelihood of success at representing community interests to the Ontario Municipal Board. Independent research has found that the OMB more often decides in favour of municipal planners over private sector planners.
The ideal would be for the community to work through a funded association to track development applications and concerns. When necessary, the association could employ outside expertise to oppose specific applications, pursue desired development and otherwise represent Yonge North Corridor interests.