These condos are set to go up in Toronto without full public or city consultation
Though it may seem like condo buildings are thrown together swiftly and haphazardly in Toronto, there is a due process that dictates that the community be given as much information as possible about a potential building before work has started on it in the form of at least one public consultation meeting.
Residents often question or petition forthcoming developments in the city, as is their right to do — but for a trio of new mixed-use buildings in the West Don Lands (a.k.a. the Canary District), they will not be given the chance.
The provincial government has decided to overrule usual city processes for the condo towers, which are set to be constructed near the elbow where the Gardiner turns into the Don Valley Parkway without any public meetings, or even input from municipal stakeholders.
The use of a MZO this way sets a dangerous precedent where a developer can go directly to the province to side step the municipal planning process, avoid public scrutiny and remove the right to appeal. This is not about usurping good outcomes. 2/3— Kristyn Wong-Tam (@kristynwongtam) October 26, 2020
City councillors and planners were not made aware of new zoning orders made by the province that are allowing the projects to push forward, according to the Star, and only found out about them by chance this week.
The City and the public will now have no say in details of the buildings, such as how many floors they are, whether they offer green space or what proportion will be affordable housing, as the Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister has now ruled on how the land is to be used, with no chance of appeal by anyone.
The structures erected at 373 Front St. East and 90 Mill St, 125R Mill Street, and 153-185 Eastern Ave. could end up as tall as 50 storeys. Thankfully, they are due to contain at least some affordable housing units and 17,000 square feet of community space, according to the Minister's office.
At current, the application for the first site shows maximum three buildings at heights less than 13 floors, a plan approved by city staff and shared with the public at multiple open houses.
The second shows a 32-floor and 45-floor condo tower with six floor of office and retail. There is no application yet submitted for the second site, which is a 100-year-old heritage industrial building.
One thing that Premier Ford really does not like is local municipalities making their own decisions. Thanks @joecressy and @kristynwongtam for supporting local democracy and affordable housing.... https://t.co/cNI52vml76— Pink Helmet TO (@PinkHelmetTO) October 27, 2020
Ward 13 Toronto Center Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York Councillor Joe Cressy have since issued a statement on the matter, calling the zoning orders for the properties a "surprise" and expressing concern about the heritage site on Eastern Avenue in particular.
"Sidestepping the City and local community means missing vital information that will determine how new projects and developments work for the people that live, work, and play all around them," it reads.
"The impact of the Minister's Zoning Orders the province has enacted has created more questions than answers."
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