A recent development application for a property at 316 Bloor St. W. has hit a roadblock with city councillor Dianne Saxe and local residents raising concerns.
The original plan included a 29-story mixed-use building, at a height of 98 metres. However, the developer later sought permission from the city’s committee of adjustment to increase the structure’s height to 121.4 meters, along with other variances in the gross floor area and amenity space. In the letter for the development application requesting the additional height, there was a direct reference to the need for more housing in the city, amongst other reasons for the increase.
In December, the Toronto East York Panel of the Committee of Adjustment approved the requests from the developer with conditions including a cash contribution allocated towards community facilities, recreation, cultural space, and/or streetscape improvements within Ward 11.
This application typically only requires the Committee of Adjustment’s approval for such amendments, but in a letter dated earlier this month, Saxe raised concerns that these changes were not “minor” but significant alterations impacting the community’s character and infrastructure. She highlighted the substantial increase in height and the reduction in outdoor amenity space, arguing that such modifications necessitate a more thorough review process.
Councillor Saxe recommended that city council “authorize the city solicitor to both appeal and attend the Toronto Local Appeal Body,” to determine whether the variances approved by the committee were indeed minor, and to retain outside consultants as necessary.
The Annex Residents’ Association sent a letter of support echoing Saxe’s sentiment on the development. With Committee of Adjustment approval, under new rules in the development process, residents association have no recourse to challenge the new requests.
“Under recent regulation, the community has no right to appeal this decision,” wrote Rita Bitterman, chair of the Annex Residents’ Association, in a letter to city council. “And that is why we urge Council to approve TE10.42-316 directing City Legal to take the decision to the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB).”
Under recent regulation, the community has no right to appeal this decision. And that is why we urge Council to approve TE10.42-316 directing City Legal to take the decision to the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB).
This issue brings to light the ongoing trend in the city that sees developers topping up already approved condo developments to add more units, or height or both.
Oren Tamir, Toronto’s acting director of community planning, agree that the reason is at least partly due to the necessary push for new housing by all levels of government. Tamir adds that going to committee of adjustment for top-ups is usually a fast and efficient process.
“The committee of adjustment process is typically faster than a zoning bylaw amendment,” he explained. “The decision is made by the Committee of Adjustment and there is public notice for that. The public can provide input and comments at the committee directly. It is a public process. There is room for public input.”
This item was scheduled for Toronto and East York Community Council on Jan. 24 and city council on Feb. 6.
The full details and background documents related to this case are available on the City of Toronto’s website.