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Branthaven on Ghent hearing wraps after one day

A four-day Ontario Municipal Board hearing of the 58-townhome project by Branthaven on Ghent Ave has wrapped up after one day of testimony. The board heard evidence on Mon. Nov. 26 from city planners (in support of the project), the developer’s planner and the resident who had appealed the project. Both the rezoning, to permit the townhomes, and the site plan of the project, are in front of the board for a decision.

Google maps tells the story - approval of the development means the end of the largest stand of trees in Ward 2
Google maps tells the story – approval of the development means the end of the largest stand of trees in Ward 2

Residents had requested a number of conditions be put on site plan approval, covering groundwater monitoring, construction staging and landscaping. I brought a motion covering several of these items to committee and council, as follows:

  • A groundwater monitoring study shall continue during construction and post development. The monitoring should be done quarterly for a 2 year period post construction with a review at the end of 2 years and an option to extend the monitoring to a maximum of 5 years if deemed necessary for data collection.  If any of the existing 6 monitoring wells are damaged or destroyed as a result of construction, they are to be replaced in locations to the satisfaction of the Director of Engineering and shall have continuous monitoring capability. The developer shall submit annual reports to the Director of Engineering;
  • The Developer shall  provide and comply with a construction and tree removal schedule that provides for the protection of existing trees until their removal is necessary for site servicing and construction, and that minimizes the time periods during which the site is cleared of existing tree cover, to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning and Building in consultation with the Intermediate Technician Landscaping;
  • Authorize staff to amend the landscape plan by replacing the proposed maple trees on the eastern boundary of the site with cedar trees measuring 1.8 – 2.0 metres; subject to discussions with Branthaven and the neighbouring resident to the east.

The conditions were approved by council. Nov. 25. City staff also supported the changes and brought them to the OMB hearing with a request that the OMB attach these to the site plan approval of the project.

The adjudicator has indicated he will provide a decision on both the rezoning issue and the site plan within 4-8 weeks.

My Take: Residents will recall I did not support this project, which replaces eight single family homes with 58 standard and back to back townhomes. I believe it is too dense and not compatible with the lot patterns and overall character of the neighbourhood, and also required removal of too many trees and too much greenspace. City staff supported the project, and it was approved by council on a six-one vote.

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

What's your take?