Community Council votes to send lawyers to fight tall building appeals

Etobicoke York Community Council approved a motion to send lawyers to the Ontario Land Tribunal to argue against building the proposed tall buildings at 1821–1823 Weston Road and 8–16 Locust Street.

The owners of 1821 Weston are proposing a 38-storey, 446-unit building that would, according to city staff, violate:

  • The Provincial policy statement
  • The Growth Plan
  • Toronto’s official plan
  • “Area specific and city wide guidelines”

City planners say it does not fit the local built form, is too close to property lines, and is “out of scale to its surroundings”, and will “negatively impact adjacent lands—among many other complaints.

Staff say,

Development on this site could be supported, if it provides appropriate setbacks, separation distances, massing, building height and density, as directed in the Official Plan, the Weston Urban Design Guidelines, and the City-Wide Tall Building Design Guidelines in cooperation with adjacent property owners.

City staff also oppose the 35-storey, 372-unit proposed building on Locust Street.

They say it violates:

  • The Provincial Policy Statement
  • The Growth Plan
  • Mount Dennis’ urban design guidelines

It is also, they say, too tall, too close to the property line, and out of context with the neighbouring buildings, again, among other complaints. “Given the existing and planned context for the subject property and the surrounding area, the proposed density, height and massing proposed in its current form cannot be supported by staff.”

In both cases, staff recommended “that City Council direct the City Solicitor, together with appropriate City staff, to oppose the current proposal at the OLT and continue discussions with the Applicant to resolve outstanding issues.”

Mount Dennis campus meeting this week

The Toronto Community Benefits Network will be hosting a meeting on creating attracting a post-secondary campus to Mount Dennis.

Since 2020, the Mount Dennis Community Association’s ecoNeighbourhood Initiative has been working with government and local partners to define a community vision statement for attracting a city-recommended post-secondary campus institution into the Mount Dennis neighbourhood.

The potential location for the campus is envisioned by members of the local community as part of the area across from the Mount Dennis LRT/bus/UP Express station south of Eglinton Avenue West and west of Black Creek Drive. Choice Properties, owners of a large part of that land, has recently submitted a district development proposal including 7 high towers for this area, and community benefits discussions are beginning to take shape…

The session will include introductory words from local City Councillor Frances Nunziata and TCBN Executive Director, Rosemarie Powell and a presentation by Rick Ciccarelli from the Mount Dennis Community Association’s Eco Neighbourhood Initiative.

Map of campuses in Toronto. There is no campus near Mt Dennis
Image from the TCBN

The meeting will be September 13 starting at 6:30 p.m. They ask that you RSVP.

Is it arrogance? Let’s hope so.

There’s been a long standing Tory tradition of swerving candidate debates. Here in York South-Weston, Tories are sent in as sacrificial lambs. Being a national party, the Conservatives feel obliged to have a candidate in every riding and while expectations in this corner of Toronto are slim, they always manage to find someone who will enter the race. 

In the days before Covid, debates were noisy, filled with, er, rabid and partisan socialists and were held in some remote location far away from their home – aka  the riding. Conservative candidates presumably thought that their time was better spent canvassing. Now it’s the Liberals too who are making this a thing. 

One can understand a Tory candidate’s unwillingness to be exposed to the mob. For one thing, their grasp of issues is likely to be confined to a few sentences. They’re usually running on a couple of wedge issues and don’t get the subtleties of an argument having two sides. The Liberals rarely swerved a chance to debate. Now we have a sitting MP and federal cabinet minister deciding that a debate isn’t important. 

Liberal Ahmed Hussen is a success story. He, like many of us in Canada, came to this country for a better life. He succeeded, became a community advocate and then a lawyer so it would be fair to assume that Mr. Hussen isn’t shy. Public speaking should be a natural fit for the Liberal candidate. During the 2015 election it was alleged that Mr. Hussen felt that debate organizers were partisan and he wouldn’t be treated fairly. The strategy didn’t hurt him and he handily beat Mike Sullivan with 46% of the vote.

In 2019, all candidates attended the one debate and Mr. Hussen romped to victory with 58% of the vote.

Now he seems to feel that any exposure to the public that he can’t control will either weaken his chances or waste his precious time. Although Mr. Hussen doesn’t live in the riding, there is strong evidence that he knows where it is and has been here on quite a few occasions.

So what was Mr. Hussen’s problem with participating in a candidate debate? Especially one held remotely. As a cabinet minister, he will assuredly have a good grasp of the issues and how to use Zoom. As a lawyer, he will have decent and confident debating skills. Heaven forfend that anyone could accuse a Liberal cabinet minister of arrogance but unless Mr. Hussen has a compelling reason for avoiding debate, one has to assume that’s exactly what it is.

Well done Mr. Hussen. You have what it takes to be a Liberal Prime Minister.

The debate, a report

Tonight’s debate on the environment showed what debates could, and should, be in the future: accessible to all from home, with detailed questions and civil engagement by the candidates.

Nicki Ward (Green) and Hawa Mire (NDP) discussed about twenty environmental issues for 90 minutes. Both candidates were, frankly, very impressive. They had deep grasps of the issues, the history, the facts and the proposed solutions.

As you might expect in a debate between the NDP and the Greens, there was little difference on matters of policy. Both were against nuclear waste, climate change, and fossil-fuel subsidies. Both were for more consultation with Indigenous peoples, and for working with other levels of government.

They shared a similar style, too: each was refreshingly complimentary of the other, and there seemed to be kindness and mutual respect. I got the sense that they would happily work together to solve common problems if the chance arose. And, because the debate was online, there was no forced cheering and zealous applause by partisan supporters. What a relief.

While the candidates were both smart, fast, and in broad agreement, there was a difference in their relationships to their parties.

Hawa Mire knows her party’s platform in fantastic detail, and is able to quickly apply it to issues. She emphasized that there would be synergies working with Faisal Hassan, because he is an NDP member of provincial parliament. She also said twice that she would “push the NDP caucus” in directions that benefit York South–Weston.

Nicki Ward, on the other hand, emphasized that one of the best things about her party is that it doesn’t have a party whip. She is able to work independently, and for her constituents. “When you elect Nicki Ward, you elect Nicki Ward, not the Green Party”, she said.