14452 Yonge St – Planning Meeting

Last night, Council held a second Public Planning meeting for the proposed transitional housing/emergency shelter at 14452 Yonge St. After hearing from both (in-favour & opposed), council debated and voted 4-3 to deny the application. Here is what I said at the table.

“Here we are, over a year since we first heard this planning application, and what has changed? Unfortunately, nothing. The underlying significant planning issues persist.

I have always maintained, and I believe everyone in this room agrees, transitional housing is urgently needed, in every community in the region. There are many in our community who require support…..Transitional housing plays a crucial role in providing the stability and support for those in need during challenging times.

However, my opinion on the need for transitional housing and emergency shelters is not relevant to tonight’s discussion.

The decision before council tonight is NOT whether we support the need for transitional housing and emergency shelter. It is whether the proposed site meets planning requirements to successfully locate this much needed facility at 14452 Yonge St.  As with any development application, the proposal must adhere to the principles of good planning, fitting seamlessly within the intent of our Official Plan (OP) and Zoning regulations, as mandated by the Town of Aurora.

That is what we are here for tonight. To discuss a planning application.

And the simple fact is that the amendments requested by the applicant for their development application fail to meet the intent of our OP and the standards of good planning for the Town of Aurora and I cannot lend my support to that request.

OPA 34 mandates that development density shall be 2 units per acre. On this site that would equal 8 units allowed as per the Town of Aurora’s secondary plan. This proposal is seeking amendments to allow 55 units where only 8 could ever be allowed. That is more than 6 times the allowable units.

I ask simply that everyone at this table consider this:

If  any other applicant came forward – say a developer – with an application for 55 units in a condominium, a hotel, a seniors residence, or if it was an institutional use for a school, a church, a conference center, or long term care home, would we approve it at this location? No, I don’t believe we would.  I  don’t believe there would be any discussion and believe the application would be denied outright at the first planning meeting.

The facts are that the applicants were aware of the planning challenges on the site when they purchased it.

They were aware of the planning challenges when they sought a site plan agreement to build a sewage pumping station.

They were aware of the planning challenges when they came before this council with a site plan agreement to plant 250 trees, build a parking lot for and access to the trail head on this site in order to gain approval for the pumping station. And they received approval for that site plan in 2021.

And yet knowing all that. The Applicant decided to put forward an application in 2023 for housing on this site, an application that not only does not meet the intention of OPA 34, it completely reneges on their already approved site plan agreement for that location.

A year ago, when this application was originally presented, instead of denying the application outright, this Council gave the applicant more time to conduct a site selection process – establish siting criteria, scan for potentially suitable properties, assign a score for each based on those criteria and  provide the completed site selection matrix to this Council. Take the time to provide facts to support the applicants stated belief this is the BEST location for the proposed development and thus warrants the zoning amendments requested or to take the time to find a more appropriate site  in Aurora, one that aligns with the intent of our OP.

Unfortunately, that did not occur and we are left to consider, a year later, the same application with little additional facts to support the requested zoning amendments.

Our Council is charged with the responsibility to make decisions that serve the community’s best interests, particularly concerning development. I’ve remained steadfast in my commitment to appropriate development—development that adheres to and aligns with the town’s planning principles. I refuse to be pressured into making a poor planning decision for the community I represent, just so some politicians can check a box, pat themselves on the back and claim they’ve “accomplished something.”  It is disappointing that this has polarized our community as I believe we are all on the same side of this issue – in support for the need for transitional and emergency housing in Aurora.

I believe that the best planning decisions are based on facts and evidence, not emotion.

And the facts are that this application falls very short of good planning principles in Aurora.  This  proposal requires changes to our zoning that I believe would never even be considered for any other housing development proposal for this site.

And the applicant has known that since this development application was proposed.

I share residents and council members frustration that the applicants have  presented us with a take it or leave it decision about something as critical as emergency housing for the most vulnerable in our community.

It is deeply, deeply disappointing.

I respectfully urge the Region – once again –  to explore other, more suitable sites in Aurora that closely align with the intent of our OP and zoning regulations. Additionally, I emphasize the importance of conducting a thorough site selection matrix to ensure that any future proposed development occurs in the right location, rather than settling for a “less than ideal” location..

Our community deserves nothing less.”

 

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4 Responses

  1. I am disappointed in the Town’s decision. We need new emergency and transitional housing built now – at this this site and all across Aurora.

    Town planning staff did not require an Official Plan Amendment for the last two years this application has been open, so I am curious as to why you reference OPA 34 as a factor in your decision.

  2. A poor decision by the Town. You sit on councils that have passed motions declaring a housing affordability crisis and advocating for supporting housing. Your decision will add years to people’s search for a safe place to live.

  3. I have followed this project from a distance the past two years (I live in Aurora but far from the site). I regret my decision not to speak in support of this project, because I figured our council would do the right thing and approve it. How misguided I was. I think this sends the wrong message, especially at a time, when so many people are struggling, we need a facility like this at this site and all across our region.

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