Dear Friends and Neighbours,
I am writing to inform you of a disappointing outcome for our neighbourhood.
My office recently received notification that the Ontario Municipal Board released a re-interpretation of the March 6, 2017 OMB decision on the application for 200-214 Keewatin Avenue.
The OMB initially refused the developer's proposal, but instead approved a single row of townhouses in the southern block of the site, facing Keewatin Avenue. The decision document, dated March 6, 2017, unequivocally states that the developer is permitted to construct only a single row of townhouses—not back-to-back units.
As you may be aware, the developer subsequently requested the OMB to clarify the language used in this decision document.
Although the City of Toronto's solicitor submitted a compelling argument in support of the community, the OMB released their decision on February 15, 2018, permitting the applicant to construct two rows of townhouses, back-to-back, in the southern block of the site.
Despite the language used in the initial decision document (highlighted in attached), the OMB has now ordered that the applicants revised plans, which adjust the front and rear setbacks and eliminate one building (thereby leaving two rows of townhouses back-to-back), "…satisfy the directed revisions contained in the Order of the Board dated March 6, 2017 and found at paragraph 64 (b) (i) of that Order."
To clarify, the developer is still not permitted to construct any townhouses in the northern block—there will only be one building. Unfortunately, this building will contain double the amount of townhomes permitted by the initial 2017 OMB decision.
I am at a loss to explain this interpretation of the stipulations put forward in the March 2017 decision. It is unclear why a "clarification" of the language used in a decision took almost an entire year to complete.
As you know, the OMB is an unelected and unaccountable quasi-judicial body that makes the final decision on planning appeals for the Province of Ontario. When an application is appealed to the OMB, it’s the Province – not the City of Toronto – that decides if the application is approved. I have been fighting against the OMB since I was first elected to office. This decision confirms my long-held opinion that the OMB is neither a transparent nor fair institution.
The neighbourhood mounted an impressive effort to oppose this application at the 2016 OMB hearing, and the Board's initial decision was a reflection of their hard work. For this reason, I am disappointed that the OMB did not defend the decision outlined in the March 6, 2017 document. I don’t believe that it is fair for an unelected body to re-interpret a decision, made in clear language, behind closed doors.
The February 15, 2018 OMB document directly contradicts the position of City Planning, City Legal, and most importantly, the surrounding neighbourhood. This is a precedent-setting townhouse development on one of the most beautiful and eclectic streets in Midtown Toronto.
After learning of the OMB's recent decision, I immediately scheduled a meeting with City Legal and was informed that there is, unfortunately, no avenue for appeal or recourse.
On December 12, 2017, the Province passed new legislation intended to reform the OMB and empower local residents. Unfortunately, the transition is progressing slowly and the Province has yet to set an official date for the bill to come into effect. If you would like to see the Province move forward on this issue, I would recommend that you contact your local Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP).
Thank you for your engagement on this file.