The first battleline has been drawn in what is going to prove to be a long and contentious war between North Toronto residents and developers from Minto Advisers Inc.
On Feb. 25, at the Ontario Municipal Board downtown offices, a pre-hearing conference will be held paving the way for a full-blown hearing over Minto’s proposed skyscraper project on Yonge St., just south of Eglinton Ave. E.
"I’m just sharpening my sword for this defining moment in North Toronto," said St. Paul’s Councillor Michael Walker (Ward 22). "This is the beginning of the battle."
Residents, along with their elected officials, have overwhelmingly opposed the plan of two towers, rising up 47 and 54 storeys, ever since it was first introduced a little over a year ago. It’s only been just more than a month since Minto appealed to the board for a hearing, citing the that the city was dragging its feet on dealing with the plan and coming to some sort of conclusion.
"It’s surprising that they’re getting this kind of service since they only appealed a month ago," said Walker, who will be filing a motion for the Feb. 13 meeting of city council. Walker’s motion will not only ask that city planning staff refuse the plan, but also give direction to the city in appearing before the board to "defend the democratically-approved policies of the current enforced Official Plan."
"We’re processing this application," said Walker. "There’s good faith on our part and they broke faith. We must instruct our planners to discontinue negotiations with somebody who breaks the rules."
A pre-hearing conference will help establish the major issues to be examined, and in a sense, try to formalize some common ground between opposing parties. Principal opponents will also be identified.
Residents have opposed the plan saying the project is too high and way too dense. Not only will it burden the existing infrastructure and create traffic in an already congested area, it will also set the tone of development for the area, especially with the property across the street from it — the TTC lands — slated for redevelopment.
Walker encourages residents to not waver in their opposition and show up at the pre-hearing representative of the many and varied groups throughout Midtown and North Toronto, who are calling for an outright rejection of the plan.
"I think residents need to be there, they really do," he said. "And we will be there with swords drawn ready to fight darkness and slay evil."