Shep­pard West next to in­ten­sify

Com­mu­nity strug­gling with de­vel­op­ments push­ing plan lim­its

Bayview Post - - News -

The On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board’s (OMB) ap­proval of a 15-storey condo tower and town­homes at 53-63 Shep­pard Ave. W. has left res­i­dents con­cerned that the area’s in­fra­struc­ture won’t be able to keep up with the in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion.

The plan in­cludes an of­fi­cial plan amend­ment to re­des­ig­nate the site lands from “neigh­bour­hood” and “mixed use av­enue,” which per­mits de­tached homes and of­fice uses. This al­lows for a mid-rise build­ing that will in­clude re­tail and com­mer­cial units.

The ini­tial pro­posal was submitted Au­gust 2015, co­in­cid­ing with a coun­cil-di­rected re­view of the Shep­pard West Sec­ondary Plan al­ready un­der­way.

The plan aimed to pro­vide a frame­work for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions that would pro­tect the ex­ist­ing res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood from in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion while of­fer­ing a sen­si­ble tran­si­tion from the tow­ers along the North York City Cen­tre.

How­ever, af­ter the de­vel­oper ap­pealed to the OMB and re­quested that the ap­pli­ca­tion be ex­cluded from the study area, the OMB ul­ti­mately ap­proved the height and den­sity of the prop­erty, ef­fec­tively pulling the de­vel­op­ment bound­ary of the city cen­tre west­ward into the neigh­bour­hood.

“The neigh­bour­hood has been swamped with large-scale re­de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions, all of which are at the OMB or have gone to the OMB,” said Ward 23 coun­cil­lor John Fil­ion. He added, “Al­most ev­ery de­vel­op­ment that’s been ap­proved has been con­trary to the city’s plans.”

Another ap­pli­ca­tion, for an 11storey mixed-use build­ing at 245 Shep­pard Ave. W., has also been re­jected by coun­cil and is slated to be ap­pealed at the OMB for a sched­uled hear­ing in Au­gust 2018.

“What we’re re­ally wor­ried about is that this will be used as an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand the de­vel­op­ment, to change the sec­ondary plan bound­ary into the neigh­bour­hood, and then there’ll be gi­ant de­vel­op­ments al­lowed there, and that will be a disaster,” said Paul Martin, vice-pres­i­dent of the West Lans­ing Home­own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion ( WLHA). “We’ve al­ready seen big de­vel­op­ments go­ing in the North York Cen­tre area, and we’ve seen a lot of im­pacts to traf­fic, schools over­crowd­ing and over­loaded sub­ways. We didn’t want to al­low that to hap­pen along Shep­pard.”

The area has de­vel­oped rapidly over the last few decades, and res­i­dents are al­ready see­ing the ef­fects of pop­u­la­tion in­crease on the ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

Schools, for ex­am­ple, have been a hot but­ton is­sue in the area. SHEP­PARD AVE. W. Hol­ly­wood Pub­lic School, which ser­vices Shep­pard Av­enue East from Yonge Street to Bayview Av­enue is at 136 per cent ca­pac­ity ac­cord­ing to 2016 school data. Cameron Pub­lic School, ser­vic­ing Shep­pard West, is at 102 per cent ca­pac­ity.

A meet­ing was held on Oct. 30 to ad­dress the is­sue of Wil­low­dale schools’ over­crowd­ing and yielded an at­ten­dance of al­most 300 peo­ple, in­clud­ing coun­cil­lor Fil­ion, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Mitzie Hunter and Wil­low­dale MPP David Zim­mer along with lo­cal trustees from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the Toronto Catholic District School Board. The pur­pose of the meet­ing was to in­form res­i­dents about the pos­si­ble so­lu­tion of al­low­ing the TDSB to charge a levy to the de­vel­op­ers for each new unit to fun­nel back into lo­cal schools, ac­cord­ing to TDSB Trustee Alexan­der Brown.

“We just are ask­ing, if the de­vel­op­ments are go­ing to be part of the prob­lem, can they also be part of the so­lu­tion?” said Brown.

In the mean­time, the WLHA doesn’t have much hope for preser­va­tion of its neigh­bour­hood bound­ary.

“I can tell you what’s been done to date: Noth­ing,” said Martin. “Ba­si­cally what’s hap­pened is the city’s ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture has at­tempted to ab­sorb the in­flux. And that’s what ev­ery­body, ex­cept the res­i­dents, want.”

Gr­mada Hold­ings, the de­vel­oper for 53-63 Shep­pard Ave. W., did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

“If the de­vel­op­ments are go­ing to be part of the prob­lem, can they also be part of the so­lu­tion?”

Res­i­dent Paul Martin at the site of the ap­proved 15-storey de­vel­op­ment

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