Overcrowding in Local Schools – Public Meeting October 30

Overcrowding in Local Schools – Public Meeting October 30

Children in some Willowdale condos look out their bedroom windows at schools that have no room for them. Instead of a short walk to class, they get on a bus to the nearest school that can take them. McKee School, built not that long ago to hold more than 600 students, has already been forced to add portables.

As with issues such as traffic and transit congestion, school overcrowding is the product of provincial rules which force development on the area but don’t give it the …

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Re-imagining Yonge Street (UPDATED) – Open House October 10

Re-imagining Yonge Street (UPDATED) – Open House October 10

Update (September 5, 2017)

Re-Imagining Yonge, the City’s plan to reconstruct the badly aging stretch of Yonge Street between Sheppard and Finch Avenues continues as a critical infrastructure project for our community.  Over the spring and summer, John and his EA Markus O’Brien Fehr, participated in fireside chats with over a dozen local neighbourhoods and condominiums in small “fireside chat” formats, sharing information on the project and hearing a wide range of views and opinions.  One thought that most residents share is that Yonge Street is in …

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OMB Reform Coming Soon

OMB Reform Coming Soon

The provincial government has announced that it intends to replace the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) with a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal which will be required to give much more weight to the decisions of local municipal councils. Under the proposed system, the Tribunal would evaluate appeals by whether the City had followed its own planning rules in the initial decision. The set of proposals, if implemented, would put planning back in the hands of your local elected councils, which John believes is very good news.

This legislation, part of Bill 139, passed …

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Local Appeal Body (TLAB) Now Active

Local Appeal Body (TLAB) Now Active

On May 3 the City of Toronto launched the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB), to handle appeals of land use decisions from Committee of Adjustment hearings.  TLAB is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal that replaces the function of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). In doing so, the City hopes that the TLAB will make the appeal process more efficient, allowing citizens to make claims in person, by phone, or online through video conferencing. Most TLAB meetings will be held in the Toronto Public Library located at 40 Orchardview …

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Cracking Down on Bad Builders

Cracking Down on Bad Builders

It will come as no surprise that our neighbourhood has more new home construction – by far – than anywhere else in the city.  The unprecedented increase in construction has brought with it a large number of “builders” who show little respect for the City’s bylaws, the neighbourhood in which they are building, or neighbours near their construction sites.  There are, of course, still some good and responsible builders, but these now appear to be in the minority.

Keeping up with the amount of construction and …

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Provincial Review of the Ontario Municipal Board

Provincial Review of the Ontario Municipal Board

A key item currently under review is the future role of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).  The OMB is an un-elected body appointed by the Province that his final say over all planning decisions in our city.  Ontario is the only province in Canada which has a body that takes planning approvals out of the hands of local representatives.  In our community this has often led to large amounts of OMB approved residential development never considered by the City’s Official Plan.

John is a strong advocate …

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Yonge/Sheppard Development News

Yonge/Sheppard Development News

There have been several community meetings over the past month dealing with potential development in the Yonge & Sheppard area.

At John’s instigation, the City is looking at a new Secondary Plan for Sheppard Avenue West in Ward 23.  We are looking to create much more attractive development on Sheppard Avenue West at the same time as protecting adjoining residential neighbourhoods.  It is necessary to update the plan to provide a context in which to consider new development applications.  Currently, there is an application for 53-63 …

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Sheppard Centre Construction Update

Sheppard Centre Construction Update

Full construction is now underway at the Sheppard Centre (northeast corner of Yonge & Sheppard).  The focus of this work with be a complete reworking of the retail space which will feature a major grocery store, fitness centre and much more.  Construction is expected to be completed in 2018.  Several of the major retailers will remain open during the work and subway access will be maintained.

John has been working extensively with the property owners to minimize traffic disruption during the work.  The initial construction proposal, …

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City Action on Infill Construction

City Action on Infill Construction

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 …

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Sheppard Centre Update

Sheppard Centre Update

John continues to be frustrated by the amount of residential development in the area. A recent post referencing the Sheppard Centre among other development proposals in the area can be found here.

With the Sheppard Centre, as is often the case, John was opposed to the proposal of another condo highrise, but the City’s Planning staff recommended in favour of it.  In other cases, even when the staff and the Councillor opposes a development, it can get approved at the Ontario Municipal Board.

Something needs to change.  Any …

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Development Updates & Park Plans

Development Updates & Park Plans

Over the past year, the city has received an unusually-large number of extremely bad planning applications. Some of these will be dealt with by Council in August, some won’t be reported on until early next year, and some have already been appealed by the applicant to the Ontario Municipal Board. Here’s a brief summary:

Proposal to Build Townhouses at Empress and Willowdale:

This proposal by a developer would allow townhouses in a location where the city’s Official Plan allows only single family homes. It would set an …

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From City Hall: Support for Arts & Disadvantaged Youth

From City Hall: Support for Arts & Disadvantaged Youth

Council has adopted my proposal to create new funding for a arts program which will liven up public space while helping young people get involved in something positive.

And it won’t cost taxpayers a cent.

Here’s how it works. For years, developers have been using their hoarding around construction projects to give themselves free advertising – billboards, in effect – on city property. My motion, which Council adopted earlier this month, creates a small fee for each linear metre of hoarding which advertises the upcoming development.

Because of …

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