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OMB okays old PO plans

A proposal to permit the building of a seven-storey (plus mechanical penthouse) at the corner of Malcolm and Millwood (the site of the former post office) was approved when the Ontario Municipal Board allowed an appeal on March 7 to permit the zoning by-law to be amended.

This was a disappointment, but not a surprise, to residents of the area and members of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association.

The die was cast when the OMB chair determined that because Deni Papetti, a registered architect, had a home immediately adjacent to the subject property, he must present solely technical, rather than opinion evidence in making his case against the building of the structure. 

In making his decision, the chair said that it was fair to assume that there might be “a reasonable apprehension of bias” on the part of Mr. Papetti in making his argument.

By contrast, the chair allowed the applicant’s expert witness to provide opinion evidence.

As a representative of the LPOA at the hearing, I find it interesting that the expert in question, who provided planning and urban design services to the applicant with respect to the building, was nevertheless deemed objective enough to bring independent and unbiased evidence before the board.

The fact is that the LPOA agreed to become a party to the action when the city declared that they could not find a planner to be their expert witness. In this way the LPOA ensured that the substantive planning issues and concerns were brought forward.

Based on Mr. Papetti’s evidence, the LPOA argued (though ultimately unsuccessfully) that the applicant failed to apply the policies of the Official Plan and misapplied the Mid-Rise Guidelines, as well as contradicted the applicant’s supposition that the city staff report was in full support of the application.

These concerns were paralleled by the residents of Malcolm Rd. and Krawchuk Lane who are immediately affected by the building.

So it is done, and there is no appeal of an OMB decision except in the rare case when it can be shown that there is an error in law.  Where do we go from here?

The LPOA will ask the councillor to have the site plan agreement approved by community council rather than by city staff. This will allow the opportunity for a public airing of detailed issues around such matters as balconies and transformer locations.

The process and resultant decision speaks volumes about fundamental problems with the current OMB process, and the inability of local residents to have effective input without incurring huge costs.

I would like to extend a huge thank you to the LPOA team, residents and community representatives for their collective time and effort to oppose this propos