This week Council met in General Committee (GC). One item before us was an application for a development at the Southeast corner of St. John’s sideroad and Yonge Street (the former Oakland Hall) As I explained previously, when these applications come before Council – where a resolution is required to accept, or not accept the subject application – as per Bill 73, Council now has greater control over the planning process as it has the opportunity to consider the merits of the application and then decide whether to accept the application and move it through the planning process, or not. In the application that was before Council, the developer is looking to build a 10 story building on the site and move the heritage home. The problem with accepting this application as is, is that this property is in an area that, under the Town’s Official Plan (OP) and zoning, has a height restriction of 3 stories. In looking at the application as submitted, I don’t believe that 10 stories is appropriate for this area as it is more than three times the height allowed as per our OP and zoning; thus, I was not in favour of accepting the application.
As with Council’s discussion of the previous applications at last General Committee http://www.mrakas.ca/general-committee-update-nov-07-2017/ , there was once again discussion among some members as to whether council should factor in a consideration of the merits of the application when deciding on whether to receive the application for amendment of the zoning. Once again, the Mayor indicated that he feels that if an application is “…in the cue” then it should be accepted. And once again, I disagree. Accepting an application for consideration (ie “receiving” the application) solely on when it was submitted instead of considering the actual merits of the application makes no sense to me. By accepting the application, Council would then be tied to the old land use planning legislation – where decisions of Council can be challenged at the OMB. By not receiving the application as is, that is by leveraging the land use planning tools afforded us through Bill 73, Council is in a better position to work with developers to move forward with developments that better suit the needs of our community. I believe that to ensure effective land use planning and appropriate development in our municipality, we need to leverage – and use – the tools that are afforded to us by the Province. As I said previously, we’ve got the tools, why not use them?
The application was not accepted on a 5-2 vote …… Both Mayor Dawe and Councillor Abel voted in favour of receiving the application.