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A Deep Dive Into North York Community Council


There was a lot going on at North York Community Council yesterday. My fellow North York Councillors and I considered dozens of development-related items, so much so that a downtown Councillor wouldn’t have felt out of place if they accidentally logged onto our NYCC meeting. I was also thrilled to see us make progress on local community safety initiatives and the naming of our new community centre on Sheppard Avenue. Read on to hear more about these important items and how they impact our community here in Don Valley North.

 

Development, Development, Development

There were six different reports from staff presented at NYCC yesterday requesting direction from Council to oppose developments at their Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) appeals. These six applications that staff recommend we oppose would create 2816 units of housing combined, if all are approved. This includes one development application in Don Valley North: 680-688 Sheppard Avenue East.

A rendering of the proposed development at 680-688 Sheppard Avenue East.


You may remember from a past E-Blast that the OLT is the latest name for the Provincially-appointed development appeals body, and we’re seeing a troubling trend of more and more developers trying to sidestep Council by appealing to the OLT. Often, staff request direction to go to these OLT hearings with a conditional settlement that they negotiated after the developer filed the appeal. The impending appeal forces the applicant and City Planning to resolve outstanding issues, and the settlement avoids a long, combative tribunal. In these six cases, however, staff said the differences were too far apart to even try to compromise. They want to attend the OLT and state on the record how far off the mark these developments are. This is not a decision City Planners take lightly. They know we have a shortage of housing for future generations, especially affordable housing. They only recommend opposing at the OLT when an applicant has no regard for our Official Plan or our carefully crafted guidelines for low rise, mid-rise, and high rise buildings. Building guidelines are kind of like cheat sheets for builders and architects. They lay out what sort of built forms will be more readily approved in different areas of the city. We also have easily accessible zoning guidelines and green building standards that could, if followed, see an application get approval from Planning and Council in a pretty short amount of time. Yesterday, we saw six applicants who chose to go far beyond these guidelines. We need housing, but we also need good planning and compliance with our policies. At NYCC yesterday, we also saw 13 preliminary reports for new applications. Together, these applications give staff 7102 units of housing to consider. Of course, all of these will go out to the community for consultation. From first glance, it looks like a few of these new applications are similar to the developments staff recommend we oppose at the OLT. I can’t say this enough: Yes, we need housing of all types right now, but we cannot abandon the principle of good planning. It is a quality of life issue now and for the next 100 years.

An early rendering of the application at 11 Greenbriar Road.


Funnily enough, Don Valley North had the smallest application on the list: 11 Greenbriar Road. This newest application in our ward only proposes 29 units, but my team and I have concerns about other applications pending along Greenbriar Road and nearby Talara drive. I will review this application carefully to ensure it sets the right precedent for future development in this area. There was one item for Don Valley North on the agenda that I think provides some welcome perspective on our planning process. Staff presented a draft plan of subdivision to address all necessary infrastructure and rights of way for the Amexon development at 1200 Sheppard Avenue East, across from Leslie subway station, known as Central Park. It can seem terrifying to think of 7102 units of condos and apartments being applied for at the same time, but the 1200 Sheppard Ave E plan shows us that they don’t all get approved at the same time and they certainly don’t get built simultaneously. It has been my observation that developers sometimes apply for their permissions based on political timing, both provincial and municipal. Once they have their permission, they can wait as long as they want to start building. For example, the above Amexon development got OMB approval (a former version of the OLT) back in 2013, at the same time Tridel applied with TCHC to revitalize the Villaways community just across the ravine. The Villaways and Scala are pretty much done, and Central Park has just put up its sales centre. These developments might get approvals, but that doesn’t mean they are anywhere near breaking ground. I know development is a big concern for many in our community, which is why I always want to keep you up to date on broader trends and the specifics of applications. Remember, notices for all of our community consultations always appear in the E-Blast right below this column.

 

Safety on Blue Ridge Road

I met with staff earlier this month to discuss the best ways to improve safety on Blue Ridge Road.


We are making progress with our community safety improvements on Blue Ridge Road. Some will remember that we have been trying since just before the pandemic to adjust the cul-de-sac at the end of this street. While Transportation staff do not recommend installing permanent bollards here, we made another site visit with them on a snowy afternoon that gave them a new idea. I moved alternate recommendations to allow staff to survey and measure out their new solution, and we will consult with local residents before it comes back to NYCC for approval. I will keep working to make sure the community’s safety concerns on this street are properly addressed.

 

Naming Our New Community Centre & Library

Finally, my fellow Councillors and I adopted the recommendation from staff to name our new community centre and library in line with the lane they sit on and the nearby park: Ethennonnhawahstihnen’. Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ is a Huron-Wendat word meaning “where they lived good, beautiful lives.” City staff and the Toronto Public Library Board both feel that naming these new community assets in line with the street and park continue an important piece of Indigenous placemaking our community started back in 2018. Huron-Wendat Associate Chief William Romain joined our community council session yesterday and spoke to why this act of Indigenous placemaking is so important. He thanked our community for our support and acknowledged the land as a place where life is still good and beautiful. This naming is a real, concrete step towards advancing our commitments to Truth and Reconciliation. The community centre, library, lane and park all honour the history and languages of the Indigenous peoples who called this land home and continue to today. I’ll leave you with the video that my staff and I made explaining the history of this site and the meaning behind this name. I know the pronunciation may be hard at first, but it really is easy once you get the hang of it. More importantly, it shows our community’s deep commitment to the pursuit of truth and meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Check out this video my team and I made on the pronounciation of Ethennonnhawahstihnen' and the significance of this name.

 

Public Health Guidelines Update

If public health and health care indicators continue to improve, the Provincial Government has said that the following public health measures will come into effect on March 1, 2022:

  • Capacity limits lifted in all indoor public settings

  • Proof of vaccination requirements lifted, with businesses being allowed to implement them voluntarily

  • Other protective measures, such as mask/face covering requirements and active/passive screening of patrons, will be in place

  • Public health units can deploy local and regional responses based on local health indicators

For more information on these changes, visit the link below:

Upcoming Vaccine Clinics in Don Valley North

Oriole Community Centre Clinic (2975 Don Mills Rd. W.)

North York General Hospital is running a walk-in vaccine clinic at Oriole Community Centre every Wednesday (12 PM to 3 PM) and Thursday (1:30 PM to 5:30 PM) until further notice. First, second, and third doses of Pfizer and Moderna are available, and all ages (5+) are welcome. For more information, visit the link below:

Booking Vaccine Appointments

COVID-19 vaccine appointments for first and second doses are available for those ages five and older. Third dose appointments are now available for those ages 12 and older. Appointments cam be booked through the provincial booking system online or by phone:

  • Online: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/

  • Phone: 1-833-943-3900

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