De­vel­op­ment near creek ap­pealed

Twenty-four other ap­peals made to the OMB be­fore dead­line

Thornhill Post - - News - –– Jes­sica Wei

We’ve al­ready started down a dif­fer­ent path which is not co-op­er­a­tive.”

An ap­pli­ca­tion for the land at 11488 Yonge St., at Yonge Street and Gam­ble Road, was ap­pealed to the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board (OMB) in early April, even though the devel­op­ers’ ap­pli­ca­tion to the Town of Rich­mond Hill was deemed in­com­plete.

An ini­tial ap­pli­ca­tion was of­fi­cially sub­mit­ted to the town in 2014, propos­ing two apart­ment build­ings com­pris­ing 264 units in to­tal, each lo­cated on ei­ther side of a trib­u­tary of the Rouge River, which cuts through the prop­erty. Af­ter this ap­pli­ca­tion got stopped at Rich­mond Hill Town Coun­cil, over rea­sons of height and den­sity as well as set­back from the creek, the devel­op­ers dras­ti­cally changed plans and re­sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion for one apart­ment build­ing at 10 storeys and 56 stacked town­houses on the other side of the creek.

How­ever, shortly af­ter fil­ing their ap­pli­ca­tion to the town, they also filed an ap­peal for the OMB, just be­fore the dead­line af­ter which the OMB would be re­placed by a Lo­cal Plan­ning Tri­bunal.

Ac­cord­ing to Kelvin Kwan, com­mis­sioner, Town of Rich­mond Hill, Plan­ning and Reg­u­la­tory Ser­vices, the ap­pli­ca­tion was miss­ing key pieces of in­for­ma­tion in­clud­ing a nat­u­ral her­itage eval­u­a­tion, wa­ter man­age­ment plans, wind stud­ies and noise im­pact stud­ies. With­out this in­for­ma­tion, staff mem­bers were not able to com­plete and cir­cu­late their own re­port on it.

“There’s a lot of un­cer­tainty and un­knowns be­cause of the in­com­plete in­for­ma­tion that the town has,” said Kwan.

He said that since the ap­pli­cants have ap­pealed to the OMB, staff will not have the chance to ap­proach this ap­pli­ca­tion with proper due process.

“The fact that it’s al­ready un­der ap­peal takes it out of the town’s hands, and the pub­lic hands in gen­eral terms. Hav­ing said that, it’s not to say that ul­ti­mately we couldn’t work to­ward a res­o­lu­tion, but we’ve al­ready started down a dif­fer­ent path which is not co­op­er­a­tive,” said Kwan.

The lo­cal ward coun­cil­lor, David West, echoed the same con­cerns. West had pre­vi­ously or­ga­nized pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions for the ini­tial 2014 ap­pli­ca­tion and was ap­proached by the devel­op­ers in early April 2018 to or­ga­nize an­other one re­gard­ing the most cur­rent plans. He balked at this re­quest when he found out that the OMB would be in­volved.

“Now that the OMB is in­volved, the time­line for this be­ing re­solved could be re­ally, re­ally, re­ally long,” said West. “Set­ting up a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion to­day, when we’re not in con­trol of the process and the real de­ci­sion mak­ing doesn’t start up for an­other two years, I’d be wast­ing my res­i­dents’ time.”

How­ever, Michael Manett, the con­sul­tant for the devel­op­ers. ar­gued that ap­peal­ing to the OMB cre­ates a for­mal pub­lic process; one which set a date on which res­i­dents would be able to show up.

“I’ve had experiences with Rich­mond Hill specif­i­cally that the politi­cians would like to char­ac­ter­ize it as some­thing that they lose con­trol of, and there­fore, there’s a neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tion to it,” said Manett. “But a lot of times, it’s the only way to get the politi­cians to make a de­ci­sion or to have staff make a rec­om­men­da­tion.”

He added that the OMB cre­ates a set date in which these de­ci­sions get made, which is both ben­e­fi­cial for the de­vel­oper as well as the lo­cal res­i­dents.

“It gives them a time frame to be deal­ing with in­stead of just some­thing to be hang­ing over their heads,” said Manett. Kwan re­mains skep­ti­cal. “For us to ac­tu­ally con­tinue with any dis­cus­sions, he’s [Manett] got to at least com­plete the ap­pli­ca­tion and give us the ba­sic in­for­ma­tion that we’ve re­quested,” said Kwan.

Manett and his clients con­firmed that they in­tend on fil­ing the miss­ing in­for­ma­tion.

“We could go to the OMB with­out them, but it wouldn’t make sense be­cause we want to have the most up-to-date in­for­ma­tion for every­one to re­view,” said Manett.

Ac­cord­ing to Kwan, there were 24 ap­peals made just be­fore the OMB dead­line in Rich­mond Hill.

A graphic ren­der­ing of the plans for 11488 Yonge St.

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