Submitted by Eric Milligan –
Developers are continuing their efforts to introduce high intensification infills in the Westboro residential neighbourhood.
In February, largely due to a massive display of opposition by affected neighbours, the Committee of Adjustment rejected developers’ infill proposals to build a total of 16 residential units (four “long” semi-detached buildings with secondary units) at 508 and 514 Roosevelt Ave. Currently, each of these properties has a single family home.
In March, again largely due to the opposition of a very determined group of Westboro neighbours and the Westboro Community Association, the Committee of Adjustment refused to approve a developer’s proposal to replace a single family home at 694 Roosevelt with two triplexes.
In all of these cases, the Committee of Adjustment concluded that the requested variances from the City’s zoning bylaw were not “minor.” Neighbours voiced concerns about the loss of trees, greenspace, a significant increase in paved areas, inadequate parking, issues with garbage storage and collection, and an inappropriate level of intensification. Virtually the entire rear of the each property was to be paved for tenant parking.
Neighbours on Roosevelt Avenue, and those in behind, on Cole Avenue, made it clear that they were not opposed to infills or to moderate levels of intensification. However, they were united in their opposition to developments that resulted in an inappropriately large increase in residences and in buildings that were entirely out of character with the surrounding properties.
The developers, however, are not taking “no” for an answer. In all three cases, they have now appealed the Committee of Adjustment decisions to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (formerly known as the Ontario Municipal Board). They have hired experienced lawyers who specialize in land-use law and professional planners who will appear as expert witnesses in the appeal hearings. It is expected that the City planners will continue to support the infill proposals as they did at the Committee of Adjustment.
The hearings of the three appeals are likely to take place in late July/early August and early September. The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) is a quasi-judicial tribunal. The entire process for LPAT appeals is very legally oriented. The outcome is highly dependent on the professional opinions of expert planners and on the skill of the lawyers who represent the parties. The neighbours affected by the long semis at 508 and 514 Roosevelt are organizing and addressing the need to raise up to $30,000 for lawyers and planners who would support their case before the Tribunal. The neighbours affected by the proposed triplexes at 694 Roosevelt are faced with the same challenges.
There is actually a fourth appeal underway. In February, the Committee of Adjustment approved a development involving two long semis with secondary units (a total of eight residences) at 582 Churchill. The adverse impacts are largely similar to those of the Roosevelt developments. Two neighbours have appealed the decision approving this infill development.
Time is short, and the developers and their hired professionals have a clear advantage in this new stage of the intensification fight in Westboro. The decisions taken by the LPAT in these appeals will have impacts in Westboro far beyond the immediate neighbours.
If this type of development is approved it will set a precedent. Other properties with older homes throughout Westboro will become targets for developers. Competition among developers is driving up the prices of properties. This means they increase the number of dwelling units per lot in order to generate the profit they desire. It is a recipe for rampant intensification and transformation of the Westboro neighbourhood: lot, by lot, by lot.
No matter where you live in Westboro, the quality of life in your neighbourhood is at risk from excessive infill intensification. If you are concerned about the future of your community, reach out to your neighbours and join the resistance.
Eric Milligan is a Westboro resident.