NEWS October 12th, 2015

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Hope, caution surround Southvale Drive proposal

Developer has good rep but changing official plan a concern, councillor says

Developer Shane Bahai says he understands community reaction to local developments such as the eight-storey, 98-unit residential condominium he is proposing for 3–5 Southvale Dr.

“The developer has to understand that he’s an intruder in a neighbourhood,” he says.

“Under two mayors I was head of the city’s infill housing committee — I dealt with monster homes in existing neighbourhoods, and the disruption that builders inflicted on the neighbours was atrocious,” Baghai continues.

While Baghai’s Leaside proposal wouldn’t be invading a street lined with houses — the two-storey buildings currently there previously held a catering company and art gallery — the site is part of a neighbourhood zone under the city’s official plan, and therefore has a height limit of four storeys.

Any proposal that requires an official plan amendment should be approached with caution, Ward 26 Councillor Jon Burnside says.

Last year the Ontario Municipal Board approved a seven-storey, 78-unit condominium across the street at 2 Laird Dr. that was heavily contested by residents, though Baghai says in a career spanning more than four decades, 3,000 condo units and 1,200 custom homes, he has never brought an application to the Ontario Municipal Board.

“Shane Baghai, as far as developers go, has a fairly good reputation, and I think there’s a willingness there to work with the community,” Burnside says. “However, I still have concerns about changing the official plan.”

So far, Burnside has been discussing the proposal with the Leaside Property Owners Association. But he’s always looking for neighbourhood feedback, and says that Leaside residents will have a chance to voice their opinion of Baghai’s proposal at a community consultation meeting in late November or early December.