Willowdale residents noticing construction sites on seemingly every street aren’t just imagining it. Ward 23 continues to see a massive increase of infill housing sites where old homes are replaced by usually much larger structures. In 2015, the City tracked 31 severance and 262 minor variance applications in the ward for a total of 293 sites that went before the Committee of Adjustment. Those numbers rank Ward 23 in the top spot across the City, more than the applications of 15 other wards combined.
These numbers are climbing dramatically. The 2015 figures are more than a 25% increase over 2014 and a 40% increase over 2013 and represent only variances – building proposals, applications, proposed dwellings – reviewed by the Committee, John and his staff. They do not include the houses built within the existing bylaws.
Too often, the City has lacked resources for proactive enforcement and responds only on a complaint driven basis. Fortunately, after a year of discussions with the City’s Building Department, John was pleased to see Council taking action on this issue. A new strategy was approved by Council to reduce the impact of this construction on neighbours across the city. Strategies will include improved training for building inspectors and more inspections, better coordination for interdivisional responses to issues, new communications strategies with neighbours and a new ticketing system assigning penalties for bylaw infractions on site.
John’s office team continues to monitor construction issues including enforcement of noise bylaws, ensuring debris is cleared from construction sites and adjacent roadways, alerting staff to damaged trees or illegal tree removals and addressing homes built without adherence to building bylaws. Residents experiencing problems can report them to the office or by dialing 3-1-1.