Update on the 2915-2917 Bloor Street OMB Hearing

The hearing began on June 4 in regard to the proposed development on the site of the former medical building and lasted for 8 days. All the same players will reconvene — for what’s expected to be four more days — on December 4, 2018 to finish the hearing.

Representatives of the Sunnylea Kingsway Community Association (SKCA) attended every day of the hearing, as did our experts, lawyer Bruce Ketcheson, planner David Butler and designer Rick Merrill. These three gentlemen are critical to our fight to maintain the 6-storey limit.

One day of the hearing featured the testimony of 14 local residents who, according to the Chair of the OMB hearing, provided thoughtful and meaningful insight into the issues concerning the community. Examples of our neighbours’ concerns included: overall mass and height of the building; loss of privacy; damage and loss of tree canopies; large balconies overlooking backyards; laneway morphing into a street; impacts on local street traffic; overall strain on existing infrastructure; and the proposed use of Park Lawn Cemetery to augment the lack of green space in the development. This last concern about use of the cemetery addressed the assertion by one of the developer’s experts that the cemetery constituted “green space” and a relevant parkland/recreational area…!

All resident presenters should be congratulated on a job well done in supporting the position of the overwhelming majority of local residents that 6 storeys should continue to be the maximum.

So far, the developer’s experts have presented their testimony and have been cross-examined by the lawyers representing the City and SKCA. The developer’s agents are arguing that the more permissive Mid-Range Guidelines should govern development on this part of Bloor Street, while the City and SKCA maintain that the Kingsway Urban Design Guidelines and accompanying bylaw 941-2003 should continue to be used.

(In a closely related matter, agents for the proposed development at the Kingsway Car Wash site (Humbervale and Bloor) made arguments similar to the 2915-17 Bloor developer just last week at Community Council. SKCA spoke in opposition to this proposal, and Council adopted a staff report that recommended that the City fight this application at the OMB; more on that at a later date.)

The first of two city experts has provided their testimony and been cross-examined by the developer’s lawyer. The hearing will resume in December with the second City expert speaking, followed by the two SKCA experts on planning (Mr. Butler) and design (Mr. Merrill).

The essence of the hearing really comes down to one clear and distinct issue: will the existing bylaw 941-2003 that allows development of six storeys and no more on this part of Bloor Street be allowed to remain in place, or will the OMB rule that the Mid-Range Guidelines should apply – opening the way for taller buildings in the Kingsway.

Of particular concern for residents living north of Bloor was the stated belief of the developer’s experts who feel that while 8 storeys on the south side of Bloor is appropriate, 12 – 15 storeys could be accommodated on the north side.

SKCA is now challenged with funding an additional 4 days of our hired experts’ time at the December portion of the OMB hearing. More than ever, we need your financial support!