NEWS June 30th, 2016

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Sunnybrook Plaza plan going to OMB

Developer keeps promise not to revise project further

The plan to replace Sunnybrook Plaza with two mixed-use buildings is on its way to the Ontario Municipal Board.

On June 14 North York Community Council voted in favour of sending a solicitor to the upcoming hearing regarding 660 Eglinton Ave. E., and on July 12 Toronto’s city council will likely do the same, Ward 26 Councillor Jon Burnside says.

“In many ways I think [the proposal] is disrespectful to the city,” he said. “It’s obviously going to have a huge impact on the surrounding neighbourhood. And I think everyone, myself included, is sick and tired of developers coming in and profiting from the community, yet failing to act as a true partner.”

Developer RioCan’s decision was far from a shock. RioCan submitted an updated proposal in February, reducing one of the two buildings in the original application from 13 storeys to 12 and eliminated a connecting midrise podium. Then the developer’s representatives told the city it would not be revising the project further.

Moreover, a city staff report released at the end of May revealed RioCan filed the application with the OMB in January.

Burnside said RioCan is taking advantage of the poorly-defined development guidelines laid out by the city’s Eglinton Connects planning study. In the Bayview focus area the guidelines encourage developers to “explore a variety of built forms, including tall buildings, mid-rise, and townhouses” and “opportunity for greater density on northwest and northeast blocks” without defining height or density limits. It’s the project’s height that remains Burnside’s greatest concern.

“It’s a very shallow site, so that kind of massing and height is obviously too much,” he said. “I have no problem on a personal level with [RioCan]. It’s just that I think there hasn’t really been much in the way of negotiation.”

Residents to oppose plan at OMB

Leaside Property Owners Association (LPOA) co-president Geoff Kettel has been equally critical of RioCan’s plan. He officially submitted a letter in June that listed 16 concerns the LPOA and other residents had with the proposal, including its height and density, and the fact that it would replace a treed ravine at nearby Walmsley Brook with a retaining wall.

“The site is not appropriate for major intensification, particularly in the form of tall buildings,” Kettel told the Town Crier. “And the proposal fails to provide a gradual transition into nearby neighbourhood lands.”

He noted the LPOA is collaborating with other residents to send a lawyer and planner to the hearing. It has set up donation pages to fund their attempts both on its own website and GoFundMe.

A prehearing for the Sunnybrook Plaza development will take place on July 26. The full hearing will take place over a three-week period to begin Nov. 21.

RioCan did not respond to requests for comment.