Why is the BWVRA concerned only with the height and bulk of the proposed Humber Theatre development and not with the quality of the building architecture?

Our Association is acutely aware of the opportunity this highly visible location at the western end of the Village presents for a special landmark building incorporating distinctive architecture and high quality exterior finishes.  Unfortunately the Planning Act of Ontario, that sets out the rules for regulating new development, provides our City Planners with very limited authority, and no effective opportunities for residents, to influence the architectural details and the quality of the finishes on any given proposal.  Therefore, these important aspects of a development are left almost entirely to the discretion of the proponent.

However, the Planning Act does empower municipalities, communities within them as well as individual residents, with considerable latitude to influence the ultimate built form of new developments.  Therefore, this is what decisions to approve or not approve, at both City Council and the OMB, are usually all about. So that is where BWVRA focuses its efforts, when we believe that a proposed re-development does not respect the pedestrian-friendly scale and mid-rise context of Bloor West Village.

Our goal of $20,000 has been achieved!

On behalf of the Bloor West Village Residents Association, we are very pleased to announce that we have achieved our goal of $20,000 by January 31st!  In the past week we received an additional twenty donations that took us over the top!  This money will be crucial in helping to cover the costs leading up to next week’s OMB Hearing and beyond.  Thank you, once again, to everyone who has stepped up and supported us in the campaign to date!

The Pre-Hearing scheduled at the Ontario Municipal Board is coming up very quickly on February 7th, 2018. The only thing that is certain are the costs of the Lawyer at $475 per hour and the Planner at $200 per hour.  

At this “Pre-Hearing” the OMB will officially hear that the City of Toronto is opposed to the building as currently proposed by the developer. There are five registered Parties who will present their points of view: the City of Toronto, Bloor West Village Residents Association, Swansea Area Ratepayers Association, Arbor Memorial, and one resident. The lawyer representing the BWVRA will be present at this Pre-Hearing on February 7th. The result of this Pre-Hearing should be the OMB setting a date for Mediation.

In the meantime, the BWVRA Strategy Team has been working with our Lawyer and Planner to further refine how we will articulate our community’s key concerns and potential solutions, for when the opportunity arises either at Mediation or through informal negotiations. Our Lawyer is also consulting with legal counsel for the other Parties to determine how closely our interests are aligned which, needless to say, will be a key factor in achieving a satisfactory mediated settlement. This all takes time and, based on our experience with our last Mediation at Bloor/Durie, we are also very aware that costs can quickly accumulate as the proceedings unfold.

This February 7th Pre-Hearing is less than two weeks away. The best way for you to have your voice heard is by being a Member of the Bloor West Village Residents Association and supporting our efforts with your donation!

Thank you.

Does the BWVRA support the re-opening of Riverview Gardens north-bound from the South Kingsway?

The decision to close the north-bound access to Riverview Gardens was made as a concession to the Old Mill neighbourhood at the time when the # 1 and #2 Old Mill condo proposals were approved a number of years ago.  This closure was negotiated by the now defunct Old Mill Residents Association in response to an emerging problem of traffic short-cutting through the Old Mill neighbourhood, which was expected to become even worse with the realignment of the intersection.  As a result of this measure, Riverview Gardens was restored to its historical function as a local residential street with moderate traffic levels.

In the meantime, should the currently proposed Humber Theatre re-development proceed, it is recognized that traffic may increase substantially on the public laneway behind #1 and #2 Old Mill, as it would be the most direct access to that building for traffic from the south. BWVRA supports any initiative that encourages the City to have this issue properly re-assessed and to prescribe a solution that ensures there will be no significant increase in traffic levels on the residential streets within the Old Mill neighbourhood.

The Bloor West Village Residents Association is pleased to announce the receipt of a generous donation of $2,500 from the Sidorova Inwood Team.  You may have noticed we were also featured in their current realtor ad on page 17 of the January Home News.  We’re grateful and thankful to have leaders such as them in our Bloor West business community supporting our campaign.

 

Bloor West Village is a special place but remains within a big city.  The Canadian Urban Institute is a non-profit applied research organization dedicated to achieving healthy urban development.  We’ve added a link to their web site, on the right.  Check it out to see interesting stories and media about the broader urban community we’re part of.

The High Park Community Alliance (HPCA) has been informed that the Ontario Municipal Board has scheduled pre-hearing conferences with:

  • GWL: Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 at 10:00AM
  • Minto: Thursday, February 8th, 2018 at 10:00AM

They will take place at the:

Ontario Municipal Board
655 Bay Street, 16th Floor
Toronto, ON

HPCA has contacted legal counsel to represent our organization at these important pre-hearing conferences which deal with preliminary and procedural matters, including:

  • Identification of parties
  • Identification of participants
  • Identification of issues
  • Possibility of settlement of any or all the issues
  • Start date of the hearing
  • Duration of the hearing
  • Directions for pre-filing of witness lists, expert witness statements and written evidence.
  • The hearing of motions
  • Such matters as the Board considers appropriate

For more information, read the OMB Pre-hearing Conference Info Sheet.  It is important to note that the OMB’s notices state: “If you do not attend the pre-hearing conference, the Ontario Municipal Board may proceed in your absence and you will not be entitled to any further notice of these proceedings.”  As noted above, HPCA will be participating in these important pre-hearings.

Individuals are also welcome to attend and will have the opportunity to register as either “parties or participants” at the actual hearings.  For more information, read the OMB “Parties and Participants” Info Sheet

We will be discussing strategy/planning for the pre-hearings at the:

HPCA Annual General Meeting
Tuesday, January 23rd at 7:00PM
Grenadier Retirement Residence
2100 Bloor Street West

We hope you will be able to attend.

A big “THANK YOU” to those of you who included a donation to the Save Our Village fundraising campaign on your To-Do List last month!  In December, we raised just over $4,300 which has helped take us closer to our $20,000 goal.  We still have a ways to go, so please help us with your donation by clicking here, and also let us know if you’d like a lawn sign to show your support.

The first Pre-hearing Conference was held on September 28, 017, during which a number of Parties and Participants were identified and registered by the OMB.  As importantly Plazacorp, the developer, asked for Mediation but did not request an alternative date for a Contested Hearing, should Mediation fail.  BWVRA has interpreted this as positive sign, that the applicant would like to expedite a negotiated settlement; however, with an unusually large number of five Parties being involved, and with many divergent interests to address, this is not expected to be easy.

In the mean time, through consultations with our Members and with the advice of our Lawyer and Planner, we have been preparing to be able to clearly articulate the community’s interests when further negotiations, and possibly formal OMB Mediation, take place.  Negotiated settlements are usually dependent on all of the Parties narrowing down their focus to two or three key issues that matter to them most. From the perspective of BWVRA, these are as follows:

  • The proposed building is much too high, bulky and out-of-scale for the location,
  • Predicted shadow impacts on the adjacent neighbourhood are unacceptable
  • Wind tunnelling is already a concern at street-level, and the additional impacts of the proposed building need to be understood and properly addressed.

Our next date with the OMB is the second Pre-hearing Conference scheduled for February 7, 018.  Watch for further updates, before and immediately after that date, on the progress of informal negotiations that may take place, along with the scheduled date for Mediation, should this step be needed.

You may have noticed the holiday lights on Bloor West Village sidewalk trees absent this year.  Several years ago, when the sidewalks were replaced, Toronto Hydro removed all power to the trees.  In its place, solar power units were used but they are now obsolete. Early next year, new solar powered pedestrian lighting will be installed to illuminate the sidewalks.  Later on in December, this system will hopefully allow the tree lights to reappear.  

This holiday season, the entire Bloor West Village Residents Association would like to thank you for all the confidence you have shown in us throughout the year.  We are especially thankful  for the donations we have received towards the Humber Theatre redevelopment.  We are getting closer to our goal of $20,000.00 by December 31, 2017, but we’re not quite there!

We realize that this is a very busy time, you’re engaged in holiday planning and many organizations are reaching out to you for donations. A contribution to the Save Our Village fund is an investment in your neighbourhood and a future that includes sustainable, integrated and community supported development that will complement the Bloor West Village community. Your $200 donation will help us to pay for the time required by our legal and planning professionals.

Please donate today!

With all our best wishes,

Jamie Isbister, Chair BWVRA