History of the Application
In 2013, Pemberton submitted an application to amend the City’s Zoning By-laws to build a 35 storey, 300 unit residential building at 18-30 Erskine. As required under the Planning Act, City Planning held a community consultation for this meeting in April 2013. Over 10,000 notices were distributed prior to this meeting and I was assured by the TDSB and John Fisher P.S. that every parent at the school at that time was notified of the meeting.
The provincial Planning Act requires that the City of Toronto process every single application submitted. The Planning Act also states that if a Zoning By-law Amendment application is not processed within 120 days of submission, the applicant has the right to appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
The OMB is a provincially appointed, quasi-judicial administrative tribunal that hears planning appeals from the municipal level. When an application is appealed to the OMB, it’s the province – not the City of Toronto – that decides whether to approve the application.
In April 2015, the developer short-circuited the city’s planning process and appealed to the OMB before the city had a chance to complete its report on the development application.
At the August 11, 2015 hearing at the OMB, the applicant and involved parties (Erskine Park Holdings Inc., the City of Toronto, 17-30 Keewatin Neighbours Group, and the Sherwood Park Residents’ Association) agreed to a board-led mediation. The city and the residents proceeded with mediation as a last resort. The only other option at that time was adjudication, which likely would have resulted in approval of the application as proposed by the developer.
In December 2015, the parties settled with the developer with great reluctance. In a board-led mediation at the OMB, the OMB Member presiding over the case ultimately makes the final decision on an application after weighing the concerns brought forward from the various parties at the table. In January 2016, the OMB approved the application for 18-30 Erskine at 32 storeys (measured in height by meters). Shortly after OMB approval, the property was sold to KG Group who has reduced the floor to ceiling height of each storey, allowing an additional three storeys. However, the overall height in meters remains what was approved by the OMB.
Although the OMB has approved the Zoning By-law Amendment, the applicant is still required to complete a Site Plan Agreement with the City of Toronto. While a Site Plan reviews features such as site access and servicing, waste storage, parking, loading, landscaping and construction management, it does not have the power to significantly alter the height or built form of a proposal, or refuse the Zoning By-law Amendments granted by the OMB.
At the November 2016 meeting of North York Community Council, I deferred the Rental Residential Demolition Application for 18-30 Erskine to the January 2017 meeting. In January 2017, as the applicant had not yet submitted their Construction Management Plan, I again deferred the item until the April 4, 2017 meeting of North York Community Council to provide time to review the Construction Management Plan with the local stakeholders. While this item does not deal directly with the issuance of any demolition permits, it is required as a formality in the process of obtaining a demolition permit. A demolition permit cannot be issued until after the Site Plan Application has been approved. Staff have advised that the Site Plan Application is currently being reviewed by various city divisions and may require multiple rounds of revisions before moving forward.
If you have questions about the City’s planning process, your best course of action is to contact Alex Teixeira, the City Planner with carriage of this file, at Alex.Teixeira@toronto.ca.
My Position on 18-30 Erskine
Since day one, I have been opposed to this development, particularly because of the height of the building, the very small size of the lot and its location next to a public school.
In addition, while many neighbourhoods in Ward 25 are experiencing unprecedented intensification and development, few are experiencing levels of growth and change like the Yonge-Eglinton area. This growth has direct impacts on our built form and infrastructure – from transit to schools to stormwater management. For that reason, as part of City Council’s discussion of the development application for 18-30 Erskine in July 2015, I asked the Chief Planner to report on planning tools that can be used to better manage intensification pressure in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood so that we ensure the continued livability of our community. You can read my motion here.
More recently, at the December 2016 City Council meeting, I spoke out twice against this application and against development in the Yonge-Eglinton area, raising many of your concerns directly to the Chief Planner and my colleagues. Citing the extensive list of health and safety concerns raised by this application, I also called on the Chief Planner to implement a moratorium on new development applications in the Yonge-Eglinton area.
18-30 Erskine Construction Management Committee
Following the OMB’s approval of the development at 18-30 Erskine earlier this year, I held a meeting with senior staff in City Planning, Transportation Services and Toronto Building as well as representatives from the TDSB, John Fisher P.S. and the school’s Parent Council to strike a Construction Management Committee and pre-emptively discuss how we can best ensure that the forthcoming construction will have minimal impact on the health and safety of local residents and John Fisher students, parents and staff.
In the past several months, I’ve expanded the Construction Management Committee to include representatives from all of the following stakeholder groups:
- The Toronto District School Board;
- The John Fisher Public School;
- The John Fisher Parent Council;
- The French Connection daycare;
- The Sherwood Park Residents’ Association;
- The West Keewatin Neighbourhood group; and,
- Erskine Avenue Tenants.
Senior City staff are also an integral part of the Construction Management Committee. The City divisions represented on this Committee are:
- City Planning;
- Toronto Building;
- Engineering and Construction Services;
- Transportation Services; and,
- Toronto Public Health.
In the coming weeks, the Construction Management Committee will be meeting twice to review the applicant’s Construction Management Plan. The first meeting, without the developer, will focus on providing an overview on the Construction Management Plan and Site Plan Approval processes, as well as discussing our opportunities and limitations in influencing the applicant’s Construction Management Plan.
The second meeting, in late March, will include the developer and has been organized as an opportunity for the local stakeholder groups to provide recommendations to improve the Construction Management Plan directly to the developer.
If you would like to submit any comments regarding the Construction Management Plan, I encourage you to do so through the Parent Council. You can find more information on how to connect with the Parent Council online here.
The Ontario Municipal Board
Since I became your local Councillor in 2010, nearly every major development in Ward 25 has been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, a provincially appointed, quasi-judicial administrative tribunal that hears planning appeals from the municipal level. When an application is appealed to the OMB, it’s the province – not the City of Toronto – that decides whether to approve the application – including 18-30 Erskine.
The OMB Members that preside over cases are often not from Toronto and do not have the intimate knowledge and local context of our neighbourhoods that our planning departments and local representatives have.
During my two terms in office, I’ve voted four times with City Council to ask the province to remove Toronto from the jurisdiction of the OMB. However, the province has yet to act on Council’s repeated requests.
If you have questions about the OMB process, or the hearing for this application, I encourage you to contact Raymond Borja, OMB Case Coordinator, at 416-326-5358.