In my last column I mentioned my concern about Metrolinx’s involvement in development of the McDonald’s site and south on Bayview Ave.
My understanding of prior meetings between Metrolinx and city officials was that Metrolinx had agreed not to profit from development at this intersection. One could infer that this being the case, their sole motivation would be to build the LRT station.
On Aug. 20 I held a meeting with Metrolinx officials including people from their communications, real estate and legal departments.
At this time they admitted that while they only need the McDonald’s site for the LRT station, they had purchased the adjacent property to save “time and money” and they would indeed receive profit at a rate “per buildable square foot” for any development.
This is worrisome because they now have a clear motivation for maximum density and would likely back it up with the rationale that their job is to “promote transit-oriented development”.
One can imagine that any appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board with a plaintiff cloaked in this kind of righteousness has a clear advantage if not a path to victory.
Of course, the purchase of additional land will allow for a much larger development on this corner than would have otherwise been the case irrespective of any appeal to the OMB.
Unfortunately, I found Metrolinx officials to be duplicitous and, quite frankly, I find it hard to trust anything they say. In one sentence they claimed they wanted to ensure the site didn’t become “sterilized” (hardly an issue at Bayview and Eglinton!) and that they had control of any development, while in the next sentence they claimed to “have no opinion, would stay neutral and would be hands-off.” When pressed to clarify these seemingly mutually exclusive pronouncements they had no answer.
I will let you decide whether or not you think Metrolinx is a neutral bystander or a government agency that could do irreparable damage to our community.