We received a rare bit of good news from a provincial appeal body this week when the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (formerly known as the Ontario Municipal Board) upheld City planning rules that limit the size and location of development in the Lansing and West Lansing areas.
The City’s rules restrict building heights on Sheppard to five or six stories in most locations and limit development to properties fronting onto the main street. This plan, initiated by me and supported by area residents, was opposed by a group of land speculators who proposed buildings more than double that size, accompanied by development intrusion into the existing neighbourhood on Bogert and Harlandale Avenues.
Unfortunately, the ruling does not undo two earlier decisions by the same appeal body to allow 14 storeys (53-63 Sheppard West) and 11 storeys (245-255 Sheppard West), with accompanying townhouses on Bogert. Nor does it prevent speculators and others from making similar applications in the future.
But the approval of new city rules should make it much more difficult for speculators/development to successfully appeal Toronto Council decisions to uphold city rules. This, in turn, will make it riskier for land assemblers to think they can cash in on bad OMB/LPAT decisions.
The result, I hope, will be a period of stability leading to new housing starts based on good planning rather than greed.
Still, new developer-friendly rules (Bill 108) recently approved by the current provincial government over the strong objections of local residents, continue to threaten our neighbourhoods. More than ever, I believe, residents need to get involved in protecting their communities from speculators/developers and the politicians who do their bidding.
One of the reasons the city’s rules were upheld in this case is because of the strong work of West Lansing Homeowners’ Association Vice-President Paul Martin and others in the community. Their evidence provided a sharp contrast to that of the speculator, who tried to pretend that their position had community support. The community support combined with excellent work by many members of staff at the City of Toronto, provided a winning combination.
I would strongly encourage residents to get involved in or help reinvigorate their local homeowner association. For information on how to get involved, feel free to contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-395-6411.