NEWS May 10th, 2017

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Residents seeking $10K to fight Forest Hill Village development

SFHRA raising additional funds to stop nine-storey building at OMB

Forest Hill Village development
DEVELOPER's RENDERING of Spadina Road project residents hope to stop at the Ontario Municipal Board.

Forest Hill Village won’t be getting a nine-storey addition if a group of residents get their way.

The members of the South Forest Hill Residents Association see little reason to believe developer Armel Group will reduce its proposal’s height to their satisfaction.

SFHRA formed in late 2015 in response to a massively unpopular proposal to build a 35.5-metre, 46-unit mixed-use condominium in the neighbourhood.

Armel Group will be presenting its revised application to the Ontario Municipal Board on Aug. 8.

The SFHRA says they need to raise $10,000 for a team of experts to ensure by that date they’re ready to fight.

“Don’t forget — we’re fighting a developer with very deep pockets,” SFHRA board member Marcia Gilbert said. “They’ve left the buildings on that site desolate for over 10 years without any rent, so clearly they have enough money to not worry about what’s coming next.”

During the first pre-hearing, Armel’s lawyer told the presiding board member the developers were revising their original application and would be ready to present it in August, Gilbert says. But since then, none of the parties involved have seen anything.

The association has already raised $15,000 toward its battle but, Gilbert says, that’s not enough to hire the experts they need. Though the SFHRA has been fortunate enough to secure a lawyer with years of OMB experience, it still needs planning experts, and possibly an architect.

She also emphasizes the SFHRA and its neighbours aren’t anti-development, noting that a low-rise, mixed-use condominium respecting its surroundings that doesn’t rise above four storeys would have been embraced.

“Very few villages remain in the city of Toronto since amalgamation, and (Forest Hill Village) is one of them,” she says. “It’s the reason you see tour buses coming through in the summer.

“We need to protect it.”

Ward 21 councillor Joe Mihevc says while he hasn’t seen any revised proposals, he hopes Armel takes the community’s efforts to heart and submits a revision that preserves the neighbourhood’s village feel.

“Frankly, it’s not going to be satisfactory if they simply go down a few storeys,” Mihevc says. “We’re looking for a major rewrite, not a minor modification, before the community — and frankly, our planners — will consider it acceptable.”

SFHRA has started a GoFundMe page to raise their funds.