I’ve received questions about whether council voted on the proposed 28-storey building at 374 Martha Street & Lakeshore, which was appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) before we voted. Residents have also been asking what impact, if any, it will have on our case that the appeal was launched for exceeding the 180 day time frame to make a decision, versus an appeal being launched for disagreement with the decision made.
Here’s a response and more background on both.
The vote at D&I Committee…
Yes council voted, unanimously endorsing the staff recommendation to refuse the application.
In their report on this application, staff asked council to “refuse the application.” The application had already been appealed to the OMB by the time of the vote, meaning we were no longer the decision-maker on the file. However, we could nevertheless take a position on the application. As such, council unanimously voted to endorse the staff recommendation to refuse the application. Staff’s rationale for recommending refusal included that the application is overintensification of the site, fails to meet a number of criteria for intensification, including failing all 8 tests for compatibility with existing neighbourhoods, and does not represent good planning. Council’s position in support of our staff recommending refusal of the application, will be conveyed to the OMB.
The minutes and video link showing the vote are below.
Decision-making at City Hall flows first to a standing committee, then to council. Development applications go to the Development & Infrastructure Committee (D&I), which includes all members of city council. That committee votes on recommendations that then go to City Council for a final vote.
Below are the minutes and video of the unanimous vote at the Development & Infrastructure Committee meeting of March 30 endorsing staff’s recommended refusal of the Martha/Lakeshore proposal:
Text of the minutes:
ENDORSE THE STAFF RECOMMENDATION TO REFUSE THE OFFICIAL PLAN AND ZONING BY-LAW AMENDMENTS FOR 374 MARTHA STREET
Moved by Councillor Meed Ward
Endorse the staff recommendation to refuse the applications for Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments, submitted by Andrew Ferancik, Walker Nott Dragicevic Ltd., 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto, ON, on behalf of ADI Development Group Inc., to permit a mixed use development consisting of 226 residential apartment units and 348 m² of ground floor commercial development, on the property located at 374 Martha Street; and
Direct the City Solicitor to provide a confidential legal strategy report to the May 11, 2015 Development & Infrastructure Committee meeting in response to the Ontario Municipal Board appeals filed by ADI Development Group Inc. (PB-23-15)
Link to minutes and to webcast of the meeting
…upheld by Council vote April 20, 2015
The recommendation from D&I to endorse staff’s recommendation to refuse the proposed development went to the April 20 council meeting. Council voted to uphold that recommendation as part of the motion to affirm the recommendations from all standing committees. If someone wishes to oppose an item in one of the standing committees, they must ask for a separate vote on that item. No one did in this case; as such the vote is unanimous.
Below are the minutes of the council meeting upholding the recommendation from the D&I Committee to endorse staff’s recommendation to refuse approval of the project. The recommendation is on page 2; the motion to adopt the recommendations from standing committees is on page 10, and was carried (approved).
Those votes at committee and council took place after the development had been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. As such, council was at the time of our vote, and is, no longer the decision-maker on the file with authority to refuse or approve the application. However, council can and did take a position which will be conveyed to the OMB, namely that council supports staff and unanimously voted to endorse the staff recommendation to refuse the application as overintensification and not good planning. The OMB will be made aware that city planning staff, city council and the community as a whole do not support this project.
The Planning Act provides a right of appeal to the OMB for disagreement with a decision, or if a decision has not been made within 180 days. The intent of the timeline is to ensure that municipalities don’t sit on controversial files and fail to make a decision, but instead process them. In the Martha/Lakeshore development, the appeal was launched because a decision had not been made within 180 days. The 180 time frame was reached March 24, the appeal was launched March 26, and the D&I committee met March 30, two business days later.
For more background on the processing of this file, including a complete timeline and further explanation on the intent of the 180 days, visit my earlier article on this topic here:
In recent years, a number of development applications have exceeded the 180 time frame, but developers have continued to work with the city to process their application and have not exercised this right of appeal. Nevertheless, that right is available.
Some residents have expressed concern about the city exceeding the 180 days for decision-making on planning applications. Our city manager is looking into why some applications take longer than 180 days, and what it would take to meet the time frame, and will report back to council. We will also get more clarity on what impact, if any, it has on our OMB appeal that the rationale for the appeal was exceeding the 180 days.
When an application arrives at the OMB, the primary consideration is the planning principles and merits of the application (or lack thereof) not by which route it arrived at the OMB (whether by exceeding the 180 days, or due to disagreement with the decision).
The staff recommendation to refuse the project, council’s endorsement of that recommendation, and community input on the project will be part of the evidence presented to the OMB in support of our case that the project should be rejected as overintensification and not good planning.