Jane Auster insists the South Eglinton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association are not part of the NIMBY mindset.
It’s a warm September Saturday, and she’s on her front lawn with varying articles organized neatly on tarps and blankets. She and four other families on Soudan Avenue are having a yard sale.
“There’s nothing more grassroots than a multi-family yard sale,” she said, with a wry grin.
The residents of Soudan and surrounding streets have taken up the mantle of David as they fight the acting Goliath, Malen Capital. The developer’s sister company, Benvenuto Group, looks to develop the property of 18 Brownlow Avenue into a single 24-storey tower earmarked for rental units. A revision to the original two-towered design came two days after the yard sale, Sept. 25. Money from the yard sale and other fund-raising initiatives will go to the fight.
Money from the Soudan yard sale and other fund-raising initiatives will go towards SERRA’s fight.
“We were forced to hire a lawyer and a planner in order to take on a developer with deep pockets at the OMB,” Auster added.
When Auster strikes down any claims of NIMBYism, she references multiple projects residents have worked on with both the city and developers, including the Art Shoppe mediation, which includes plenty of added density in the Yonge-Eglinton area.
“We dispute when certain people accuse us of being NIMBY neighbours,” she said. “That’s not what [18 Brownlow] is about. It’s about good planning for this area.
“The development doesn’t respect the fact that the city has asked for parkland dedication at the corner of Soudan and Redpath,” she added. “The city is fighting very hard on several fronts. They’ve been very supportive. We thank them for that.”
In addition to a lack of parkland space, the development has, in SERRA’s view, neglected to address the issues of traffic flow and shadow impact. A four-storey podium, described as a wall by Ward 22 councillor, Josh Matlow, provides little transition from the townhomes to the high-density development. A town hall was held June 6 to address the concerns of residents, and an OMB hearing is slated for Dec. 4.
SERRA is working with planner Alex Teixeira on the file. As of Sept. 30, the developer submitted a letter to Teixeira to address some of the erroneous gaps in planning.
Matlow, who was on hand to enjoy the Mount Pleasant Village BIA’s Harvest Fair, lauded SERRA for their work.
“SERRA, along with the community, is in support the right kind of development that respects the city’s official plan and contributes to our quality of life,” he said. “I really appreciate how hard they are fighting 18 Brownlow at the OMB, but also how hard it is for a group of residents to take on a well-funded developer.”
Auster and her neighbours are aware the odds are against them. She said she expected the ratio to be in the ballpark of 70–30.
“We are very much in the weeds with it. That’s why we’re having the yard sale,” she said. “It’s a long process, and we won’t even know what we will owe our professionals until all is said and done. We think it’s worth fighting and it’s winnable.”