Humber Odeon condo proposal: Councillor wants your opinion, again.

Nine members of BWVRA executive met with Councillor Bill Saundercook November 29/05 to discuss the application by developer Paul Wynn to build a 10-story, 50 + unit condominium on the site of the former Humber Odeon theatre at Jane and Bloor.

The Executive’s objections to this proposal as failing to make a contribution to the community, and failing to merit the upgraded zoning it requires (see background) were repeated by BWVRA Chair Greg Hamara.

Councillor Saundercook, who has refused to state his position in four public meetings attended by concerned residents, was asked to reveal how he will vote when the application is expected to come before Community Council in January.

The Councillor said he is inclined to vote FOR the development.

Mr. Saundercook explained that he fears the City’s refusal to upgrade the zoning would result an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) by the developer. The Councillor speculated that a less desirable (possibly higher) building could well result, given the OMB’s tendency to side with developers.

The Councillor told the BWVRA that his strategy is to tell the developer he will vote FOR the re-zoning, “subject to a number of conditions”. In this manner, Mr. Saundercook said he would hope to obtain a number of improvements in the design.

However, the Councillor declined to reveal what changes are on his list. Pressed for specifics, Mr. Saundercook refused to provide them, saying he would be compiling the list after further consultations with stakeholders.

Among those he proposed to consult further were, the BWVRA, SARA (Swansea Area Ratepayers Association), the Old Mill Residents Association, West of Jane residents who have attended the public meetings, and The Office for Urbanism (the planning group which helped the BWVRA draw up a comprehensive analysis of the proposal).

The BWVRA officers pointed out that almost all of the above have already made their negative views clear at meetings and in written submissions. He agreed that he could not name a single person or entity, save for the developer, who is in favour of the proposal.

The Executive members strongly objected when the Councillor stated that he planned to consult only after the proposal went to Community Council, fearing that this left the major issues unresolved before a crucial vote.

Councillor Saundercook therefore agreed that he would consult and compile his list of conditions well ahead of the January meeting. He further undertook to present them to the developer and require him to respond before the Community Council meeting. It was agreed that the point of the exercise is to determine whether the developer will show new and increased flexibility in order to earn the support of Councillor Saundercook and at least some segments of the Bloor West community at large.

The BWVRA Executive has requested one last meeting this month with the Councillor in an attempt to argue that the project must either be substantially changed, or opposed.

Our meeting with Councillor Saundercook made one thing clear: he needs to hear more from the community to help him take the measure of its unhappiness with a proposal that is unworthy of such a prominent site as the old Humber Odeon.

We urge you to contact the Councillor directly to express your opinion. This website has photos and all the background you need on the proposal, along with a report detailing how it fails to comply (PDF, 1.6MB) with the Bloor West Village Urban Design Study (PDF, 9.5Mb).

Please write or call Councillor Saundercook, urging him to act now on his commitments and to press the developer hard for substantive changes to such aspects as the building’s setback from Bloor Street, setbacks from neighbouring buildings, its height, and the blank sides that would dominate the Bloor West streetscape. or call 416-392-4072

Greg Hamara
President BWVRA
On behalf of the BWVRA Executive
Dec 5, 2005

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