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FOCUS: Davenport development goes to mediation (Spring 2018)

May 1st, 2018 · No Comments

Councillor aiming for negotiated settlement

By Geremy Bordonaro

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has completed its pre-hearing process for 321 Davenport Rd., where Alterra Developments has applied to build an eight-storey glass building including 16 penthouse condominiums and a two-level parking garage on the site. The development would require a by-law amendment, as the application as it stands now exceeds restrictions on height and density for the area.

“It’s just an eight-storey mid-rise that just happens to be near a famous writer” —Barry Brooks, senior planner, City of Toronto

The proposed development became infamous after famous local residents aired their opposition in public letters and on Twitter last year. Chief executive officer Galen Weston Jr. of Loblaw Companies Limited and author Margaret Atwood said they’re concerned about the height of the development, and argued that people on the balconies of the proposed development would be able to see into their homes.

When some observers on Twitter accused Atwood of NIMBY-ism, she tweeted in response, “make it affordable housing that doesn’t kill all the trees and divert all the groundwater and the neighbourhood would be all for it!”

Barry Brooks, a senior planner with the City of Toronto who has worked on projects in the Annex for 12 years, attributes the attention the proposed development has received to Atwood.

“It’s just a eight-storey mid-rise that just happens to be near a famous writer. She’s taken on supporting the neighbourhood,” Brooks said. “Not that she’s directly affected herself. It’s more that her neighbours are and she’s supporting them.”

The application has been considered at Toronto and East York Community Council, and is now under mediation at the OMB.

“At community council in September I spoke with the developer. I spoke to the local community and I spoke to our city staff,” said Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina). “Everybody agreed that rather than try to go the route of a full legal hearing, given that it was at the board, to be part of a mediation to work towards a settlement.”

If mediation is not successful, there will be a full hearing at the OMB in February 2019.

“Everybody acknowledges that this is a development site,” Cressy said. “The outstanding question simply relates to issues around tree protection and appropriate overlook. We’re into the details here.”

Many proposed developments for the area have been before the OMB in the last several years. Those that have been scaled down have tended to be very high, or have zoning discrepancies, as with the proposed development for 328 Dupont St. However, this development lacks the extreme height, zoning violations, or density of such projects.

And Alterra has not changed its marketing for the condominiums at 321 Davenport Rd., which are described as “an incredible portrait of modern sophistication.”

The Gleaner made multiple attempts to get a comment from Alterra but they did not respond.

The councillor remains hopeful that a compromise can be found.

“My hope and expectation here is that when everybody rolls up their sleeves and gets in a room together there will be an agreement that everyone can be a part of,” Cressy said.

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