Update from May 18, 2017

Dear Friends and Neighbours,

I’m writing to provide you with an update on the development at 18-30 Erskine.

As you know, I’ve repeatedly stated my opposition to this development and my concerns about the impacts of this 35-storey building on John Fisher Public School. Over the past six months, I’ve been in constant communication with the Parent Council to address the concerns of students and parents and ensure that the health and safety of the children are the top priority.

There are a number of updates to share on this development since my last communication:

  • This afternoon I sent a letter to the TDSB in regard to yesterday evening’s meeting of the TDSB’s Planning and Priorities Committee. Specifically my letter addresses comments that were made at the meeting by TDSB staff and Trustees about the possibility of the TDSB receiving a portion of the Section 37 funds that were acquired by the parties who attended the OMB, of which the TDSB was not one.

Because of the parents’ exceptional engagement over the past few months, I wholeheartedly support reallocating some of the Section 37 funds towards John Fisher Public School to improve the community and public use of this space, as it is much beloved in the neighbourhood. I would insist, however, that the parents and neighbourhood be part of these conversations and not solely the TDSB, who declined to participate in the OMB process.

I’ve attached the letter I sent to the Committee and John Malloy, Director of Education, below.

  • Earlier this week, the province announced proposed legislation aimed at reforming the OMB. While a provincial review has been underway since last year, the advocacy and hard work of the John Fisher parents has helped shine a spotlight on the problems with the OMB and its irresponsible planning process.

When the reforms were announced, both I and the Chief Planner of the City of Toronto spoke out publicly and powerfully against the development at 18-30 Erskine, citing it as an example of why the OMB needs fundamental and transformational reform. You can find our comments here and here (around the 19:30 minute mark).

At this time, many of the details about the province’s proposed legislation are not yet available and there is still a long road ahead before the legislation is passed. If you have any questions, particularly about whether these new reforms may apply retroactively to OMB decisions, I’d encourage you to reach out to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs or your local MPP.

  • On May 3rd, I and members of my staff attended the TDSB’s public meeting on the findings of the third-party risk assessment to show our support for the parent and student community of John Fisher. I subsequently met with the Construction Management Committee, which includes City Planning, the TDSB, John Fisher P.S., the school’s Parent Council and the French Connection daycare, and KG Group to discuss the incorporation of the TDSB’s risk assessment into the developer’s Construction Management plan (CMP). At that meeting, I spoke forcefully that the CMP needed to be more detailed and more specifically address the mitigation measures outlined in the risk assessment.
  • At the April meeting of North York Community Council, I moved to defer NY22.5: Final Report – Residential Rental Demolition Application Under Municipal Code 667 – 18-30 Erskine for the fourth time to ensure that the TDSB’s risk assessment is incorporated into the Construction Management Plan, which will be brought forward as part of the Site Plan.

While Site Plan approvals are typically delegated to City staff, because of the seriousness of this case, I’ve insisted that the Site Plan be “bumped up” to North York Community Council and City Council. Further to that, at the April NYCC meeting, I moved a motion requesting that both the demolition application and the site plan approval be heard at the same future NYCC meeting because it is imperative that no parts of this development move forward until construction mitigation measures are put in place.

I would like to once again thank you for your continued engagement and advocacy of your school and community. Moving forward, I will continue to work with the Parent Council on your behalf and encourage you to share your feedback with your parent representatives.

Warm regards,

Jaye


May 18, 2017

Dear Trustees,

I understand that there was a meeting of the TDSB Planning and Priorities Committee yesterday evening during which an agreement between KG Group and the TDSB was discussed and approved. I would like to clarify that while I was made aware of the meeting by parents of John Fisher Junior Public School and the local Trustee, I was not invited to attend.

I write today to address what appears to be a misunderstanding about the Section 37 funds.

The collection of Section 37 funds is permitted under the provincial Planning Act for developments that are requesting an increase in height or density from the zoning by-laws and is to be used for community benefits. At the OMB in 2015, the parties – of which the TDSB was not one – negotiated a Section 37 agreement of $1.1 million “to be used towards the design and implementation of off-site streetscape, street tree improvements and/or public realm improvements on Keewatin Avenue and the Yonge Eglinton Apartment Neighbourhood in consultation with the Ward Councillor and Chief Planner.”

It is standard process for Section 37 funds to be dedicated to specific uses. At the time of the mediation, there were no requests for Section 37 funds to be directed to John Fisher Public School, which is represented by the TDSB and not the City of Toronto, as the TDSB declined to participate in the OMB process.

Several months ago, I reached out to the City Solicitor to ask whether some of these funds could be reallocated to John Fisher Public School. Staff advised that the City’s Official Plan dictates how Section 37 money can be allocated and used and that the new purpose of the Section 37 funds would have to be consistent with the community benefits provisions in the city’s Official Plan. According to the Section 37 policies of the Official Plan (Section 5.1.1.), community benefits include “additional parkland, non-profit arts, cultural, community or child care facilities, public art, conservation of heritage buildings, transit improvements and purpose built rental housing.”

Further to that, Section 5.9, Improvements to School Board Playgrounds, of the City’s Implementation Guidelines for Section 37 of the Planning Act states that “Cash contributions toward the capital improvement of school board playgrounds are eligible S.37 community benefits where the playground serves as a local park, where the public will continue to have reasonable access for the foreseeable future, and where there is no local City-owned parkland performing a similar function in the same community that could otherwise benefit from the cash contribution.”

The City Solicitor further advised that any change to the designation of the Section 37 funds would require City Council approval to amend the zoning by-law and Section 37 Agreement, approval by all of the parties to the original agreement and an agreement from the new recipient to use the money as directed. City Council cannot unilaterally change a Section 37 agreement. This process is outlined in Section 3.7, Change in Previously Secured Community Benefits, of the City’s Implementation Guidelines for Section 37 of the Planning Act.

At the public meeting held by the TDSB on May 3, 2017, I stated publicly that, because of the engagement of John Fisher parents on this issue, I was open to bringing forward an amendment of the Section 37 Agreement to City Council to allow a portion of the funds to be reallocated to the school to improve the community and public use of this space. Any such discussions would need be in consultation with the local community and the parents.

However, I have yet to receive a formal written communication requesting specific funding for a specific project that City Planning and Legal Services can review, in consultation with myself and the parties who attended the OMB, to determine whether the re-allocation of funds meets the Section 37 requirements dictated by the City’s Official Plan.

I trust that this information is useful. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have further questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Jaye Robinson