Rich­mond Hill core plan dumped

Coun­cil­lors at odds over ef­fec­tive­ness of down­town vi­sion

Richmond Hill Post - - News - — David Olsen

Rich­mond Hill Town Coun­cil has voted to re­peal the Down­town Lo­cal Cen­tre Sec­ondary Plan (DLCSP) af­ter just two years.

The DLCSP was adopted by coun­cil on Feb. 27, 2017, and was meant to guide fu­ture de­vel­op­ment in the down­town area be­tween Hard­ing Boule­vard and Leven­dale Road and ap­plied to prop­er­ties east and west of Yonge Street.

It pro­vided an­other level of de­tail on top of the town’s of­fi­cial plan and con­tained area-spe­cific poli­cies on den­sity dis­tri­bu­tion, open space and park­ing.

Coun­cil voted to re­peal the plan at a meet­ing on Feb. 4.

The mo­tion to re­peal the plan was put for­ward by Ward 2 Rich­mond Hill coun­cil­lor Tom Muench who cited nu­mer­ous landowner ob­jec­tions with re­gard to height and den­sity lim­its and the landowner re­quire­ment to pro­vide a linked sys­tem of court­yards.

Muench said the linked sys­tem of court­yards is bad plan­ning and that height re­stric­tions have served to hin­der de­vel­op­ment and “ster­il­ize Yonge.”

“I think the ev­i­dence is you can’t build. I be­lieve for that rea­son it was pru­dent for us to say, ‘I think we should re­think this,’ ” said Muench, who added that de­vel­op­ment is key to meet­ing in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion tar­gets and ad­dress­ing hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity.

Adam Seif wrote a let­ter to coun­cil sup­port­ing coun­cil­lor Muench’s mo­tion.

He is a real estate lawyer with an of­fice in the down­town area who cites lack of de­vel­op­ment for a high turnover rate for busi­nesses.

“I’ve been see­ing it first-hand for the past 15 years. There has been no sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment, no de­vel­op­ment what­so­ever for mid-rise even from Ma­jor Mac [Ma­jor Macken­zie Drive] all the way to Crosby, which is down­town core vil­lage,” said Seif.

“I’ve seen so many restau­rants come in and close here, so many re­tail stores come and close be­cause there is not enough traf­fic, walk­a­ble traf­fic.”

Ward 4 coun­cil­lor David West voted against re­peal­ing the DLCSP.

“I ac­tu­ally thought the plan was quite good. I think the over­all re­sult of what we were try­ing to achieve was ex­cel­lent,” said West.

Chris­tine Lee, plan­ning re­searcher at the Town of Rich­mond Hill, said that max­i­mum heights and den­si­ties are laid out in the of­fi­cial plan, which will now be the poli­cies used to judge de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions, which left West ques­tion­ing the point of re­peal­ing the DLCSP.

“If five storeys was the height limit in the vil­lage core un­der the of­fi­cial plan, five storeys would be the height limit un­der the sec­ondary plan. If you knock off the sec­ondary plan, five storeys is still the height limit,” said West.

“If this is ul­ti­mately a way to in­crease height and den­si­ties and take away the con­nected laneways and so on that was in the sec­ondary plan, if that’s what the end game is, then re­ally what needs to hap­pen here is an of­fi­cial plan re­view.”

Muench, who had of­fi­cial sta­tus to par­tic­i­pate in a case brought to the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board and later the Lo­cal Plan­ning Ap­peal Tri­bunal by de­vel­op­ers ap­peal­ing the sec­ondary plan, said the of­fi­cial plan is a guid­ing doc­u­ment, not a line in the sand and that coun­cil can al­ways over­ride con­cepts in the of­fi­cial plan.

Muench also said that the of­fi­cial plan must be rewrit­ten or re­viewed ev­ery 10 years and is some­thing that is due to be ad­dressed this term.

He also noted a let­ter sent to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from the prov­ince in Fe­bru­ary rec­om­mend­ing a halt on big plan­ning de­ci­sions in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s hous­ing sup­ply plan, ex­pected to re­move red tape in or­der to cre­ate more hous­ing.

“In short: ex­pect changes,” said Muench.

I’ve seen so many restau­rants come in and close here, so many re­tails stores come and close.”

Adam Seif, a Rich­mond Hill lawyer who wrote a let­ter sup­port­ing a move to re­peal the town’s down­town plan

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