Do we want in­vest­ment down­town?

Tom Muench Rich­mond Hill Ward 2 Coun­cil­lor

Thornhill Post - - News -

Prop­erty own­ers were stunned, shocked and con­cerned over loss of rights.”

The Town of Rich­mond Hill is at odds with prop­erty own­ers on and sur­round­ing Yonge Street in­clud­ing its his­toric vil­lage core north of Ma­jor Macken­zie within its new down­town lo­cal cen­tre sec­ondary plan (DLCSP), a largescale plan to re­de­velop and guide the fu­ture of Rich­mond Hill’s down­town core, in­tro­duced in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

Prop­erty own­ers were stunned, shocked and con­cerned about the loss of prop­erty rights, in­creased li­a­bil­ity, height lim­its on de­vel­op­ment and den­sity re­stric­tions un­der the DLCSP.

In ad­di­tion, prop­erty own­ers are quite ag­i­tated by the town re­quir­ing them to give a por­tion of their land with­out any com­pen­sa­tion for the sake of a new pol­icy to en­cour­age ve­hic­u­lar and pedes­trian ac­cess to shared pub­lic spa­ces. This is a re­quire­ment if they want to re­de­velop their land. Landown­ers will have the added re­spon­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing, de­sign­ing and en­gi­neer­ing a mews and court­yard system some­how link­ing neigh­bour­ing prop­er­ties of­ten at the rear of their lots. Many prop­erty own­ers feel the con­cept and plan are dra­co­nian and rep­re­sents a poor plan­ning ini­tia­tive.

Upon learn­ing of the new re­quire­ments of the DLCSP, many prop­erty own­ers ques­tioned staff and coun­cil on the va­lid­ity and vi­a­bil­ity of such a con­cept. They have been forced to chal­lenge the plan­ning ra­tio­nale to the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board ( OMB), in an at­tempt to pro­tect their prop­erty rights, at a sub­stan­tial cost. As a re­sult of the town’s new plan, prop­erty own­ers af­fected have be­come dis­cour­aged from in­vest­ing fur­ther in the com­mu­nity, which will re­duce re­vi­tal­iza­tion ef­forts that many in the com­mu­nity be­lieve is needed.

In a sep­a­rate chal­lenge at the April 17 OMB hear­ing, the Town of Rich­mond Hill ad­vised the pedes­trian-ori­ented linked system of court­yards is to be six me­tres wide and shared with cars, trucks, cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans, adding safety con­cerns.

With the in­con­sis­tent height and den­sity re­stric­tions of the plan, such as the five-storey height re­stric­tion in the vil­lage core, when com­bined with the re­quire­ment to pro­vide a linked system of court­yards, in­vest­ment is dis­cour­aged, which will likely re­duce prop­erty val­ues and stop any down­town re­vi­tal­iza­tion ef­forts. It there­fore comes as no sur­prise that many prop­erty own­ers be­lieve the DLCSP is a very poor plan. The next hear­ing date is in Au­gust.

Coun­cil­lor Tom Muench in Rich­mond Hill’s down­town core

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