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City couldn’t find planner for 2 Laird fray

“Character of Leaside at stake” was the Leaside Life headline on my column about 2 Laird Dr. (the former post office site at Malcolm and Southvale) back in October. It’s also about having the development “fit in” to the neighbourhood.

How did we get here? City Council at its Oct. 8 meeting approved the North York Community Council recommendation to reject the staff report, and asked for an outside planner to be retained to handle the matter for the city, through to the end of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) appeal process.

However, the city has now reported back that they have not been able to secure a planner to take this on. As a result the Leaside Property Owners’ Association (full disclosure, I am a vice-president) has decided to bump up to become a party at the OMB hearing, beginning Feb. 17. This allows us to call witnesses and to have the opportunity to cross examine. 

From the very beginning this proposal for an eight-storey condominium has misunderstood its context, at an important entry point to the Leaside community. If approved as submitted this development would set an unwelcome precedent for over-development of the west side of Laird Dr.

For the immediate neighbours, a key concern is to improve the transition between the development and the existing single family homes on Malcolm Rd. and the town houses on Krawchuk Lane.

Local architect Deni Papetti has developed an innovative alternative plan that works with the main objectives of the developer’s scheme, but addresses the neighbours’ transitional concerns. It shifts some of the density away from Krawchuk Lane and provides for a better streetscape frontage, and setbacks on Malcolm Rd.

The LPOA has submitted this proposal to the developer, Knightstone Capital, for their consideration “without prejudice”. At the time of writing, the LPOA has not heard back from them. However, if they see merit in Deni Papetti’s concept, we may be able to save all parties a lot of work and expense at the OMB.

So, a creative approach to break the deadlock between developer and community is on the table. However, if the developer is not willing to entertain this proposal, we are back to the fray. The future of the built form character of Leaside is still at stake.