Humber Odeon Re-Development Loses First Round Vote

Victory for Bloor West Residents!
Humber Odeon Re-Development Loses First Round Vote

Etobicoke Community Council voted against the application to re-zone the old Humber Odeon theatre at Jane and Bloor to allow for a 10-storey condo tower. The vote was cheered by the crowd of residents who had packed the hearing room Tuesday night for three hours of passionate presentations and debate.

Though the lawyer for the developer and City’s Planner spoke in favour of the project, it was impassioned opposition from Bloor West residents that swayed the vote.

“There are lots of bad buildings” said resident John Foden, who implored Councillors to “stop the decline and choose to build good buildings.”

More than 10 individuals echoed those sentiments, as did spokesmen for the Swansea Area Ratepayers Association and the Bloor West Village Residents Association.

Most criticized the proposed building as excessively high and too poorly designed to be worthy of the prominent site, which is visible from several kilometers along Bloor Street.

In its submission the BWVRA Executive urged Community Council to prevent “this building from becoming a ‘despised landmark” that memorializes the dying days or our flawed development process.”

Saundercook votes “NO”

The motion to turn down the re-zoning application was put by Ward 13 Councillor Bill Saundercook who had earlier said he was ready to support it “with conditions”.

But, he reconsidered over the course of the evening. Saundercook said the developer had “failed to convince the community this would be a beautiful building.” That, he said, was “a critical piece of the puzzle.”

It’s not over yet

Several Councillors expressed support for the residents but voted against them saying this is the kind of decision that often gets overturned by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). They warned that the developer could get a higher building from the OMB, and the City would not get the community benefits payments it can still extract from him at this stage.

Tuesday’s vote was not the final one by the City. The Community Council’s decision goes to the full Toronto City Council at the end of April for ratification. A Councillor who wants to re-open the debate at that time could still do so. That could result in the project getting the green light, especially if the majority is convinced the case would be lost on an appeal to the OMB. At that time, Councillor Saundercook’s pre-conditions, and those demanded by the Community, would come back into play.

Steve McNally – BWVRA Communications.

1 thought on “Humber Odeon Re-Development Loses First Round Vote

  1. Open Letter to BWVRA Members

    I am one resident who thinks that turning this proposal down – when a developer has worked with the community’s representatives for an extended period, has retained an excellent architect for the site design, has arrived at an apparent group consensus, together with a package of public benefits, and then the developer gets shut down at Community Council – is not a “Victory”. This behaviour by residents disrespects the democratic process and displays a lack of good faith by the community, and only reinforces distrust and anger, rather than co-operation and understanding and positive outcomes.

    A far smarter approach would be to negotiate in good faith for an excellent project – as this process began – and its attendant public benefits. Development is going to happen in our City, has to happen, in fact – 85,000 to 100,000 new residents move to Toronto yearly. The Humber Odeon site is a landmark subway site, in an area rich in publicly-paid-for amenities and services. The site is perfect for some level of intensification of significance and quality.

    The logical outcome of the Community Council’s action is to send the developer straight into the arms of the OMB – a provincial authority charged with giving fair and impartial hearings on planning matters when there are divergent and unresolveable issues, contrary to the “rubberstamp” characterizations in the media. The Board would in all likelihood find the Humber Odeon proposal an extremely compelling project to approve, given the policies they must consider.

    The “it’s not over” section below is absolutely correct. In fact, the smartest thing the BWVRA could do is to figure out a way to pull this thing back together again, and secure this investment in the community with the public benefits it will bring, and pave the way to a yes vote at Council. Our Councillor Saundercook is key to that vote, as in the amalgamated Council, development votes are most frequently decided by the ward’s representative with other members of Council going along.

    The Bloor-Jane block is eminently visible as an entrance marker/bookend to our neighbourhood shopping street. For more than five years now, it has languished, and its redevelopment could spark reinvestment into that whole west end of Bloor West Village. This can only further reinforce the attractive shopping environment on our “main street”, and be reflected in the climbing property values we are all experiencing.

    yours in encouragement,

    Bronwyn Krog

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