Re: Contested development, Feb. 17
Re: The real architect behind T.O.’s tower struggle, Feb 18.
Re: Approved by the OMB, Feb. 19
Contested development, Feb. 17
Congratulations to the Toronto Star and Jennifer Pagliaro for this timely investigation of the city planning disasters that threaten Toronto’s neighbourhoods today.
The unelected Ontario Municipal Board, and the Committee of Adjustments, with their approval of the profit-driven visions of developers, seem unconcerned about viability assessments, traffic disasters, transit mayhem and the increased psychosis and depression that many respected studies show are increased by a hyperdense urban environment.
Isn’t it time to call a halt to reckless and ruthless construction in our city? Does Toronto want to mimic Mumbai or Paris?
Margaret van Dijk, Toronto
The real architect behind T.O.’s tower struggle, Feb 18.
Jennifer Pagliaro’s critique of the dictatorial OMB is right on. As a retired planner with the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs, I remember when the OMB was considered the “good guy.”
In the early days of urban sprawl, municipalities lacked planning staff, the planning policies and especially the political will to control sprawl.. Developers basically had the local politicians in their back pockets and got plans approved with little oversight. The OMB then would come in and make sure that those plans conformed to provincial planning policies.
Today, municipalities have professional staff and policies to curb excess development such as sprawl in the 905, and condo over-development in Toronto. As Ms. Pagliaro points out, it is now the OMB which cow-tows to whims of developers to the detriment of sound urban growth. It is beyond time the province changed the mandate of that organization and put planning back into the hands of the professionals.
Ron Brown, Toronto
Onward and upward, Feb. 20
Congratulations on a very insightful series on condo development and the OMB in Toronto.
Jennifer Pagliaro successfully describes the complicated relations between the OMB and developers, and the continued lack of real change in how the OMB is run. She also touches on how developers influence politicians by funding their parties, paving the way for ever- higher condo towers.
I live in High Park Village. If two proposals go through by Minto and Great West Life, our density will be doubled, considering that a huge project, Grenadier Square, has been approved by the OMB in spite of opposition by the entire city council. It is appalling to think that our stable community will disappear, and be replaced by another concrete jungle like Eglinton and Yonge.
Pagliaro hits the nail on the head when she quotes Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam: “How much density is too much density and where is that density appropriate.”
Communities must have a larger say in what happens to their neighbourhoods.
Cathy Brown, Toronto
Congratulations on your OMB articles, which succinctly state why most people are leery of the OMB.
Hearing officers are impressed by smart suits and smart talk of the rich and powerful.
Citizens are routinely treated with contempt and largely ignored.
David Godley, Toronto
I’m glad the Star is bringing to light the horrific power of the OMB to destroy this city and other emerging cities in Ontario. It seems this board is ruled by megalomaniacs who care only about money and power rather than people’s lives. This whole institution needs to be disbanded and perhaps rethought by planners who actually care about how people’s lives will be affected if overcrowded areas with limited transportation options, grocery stores, schools and daycare facilities are the new norm.
Seems the OMB is only in it for the money and prestige because it’s pretty obvious to me that they are bullies and a detriment to this province!
Jane White, Scarborough
Thank you for the well-written articles on the OMB.
I was one of three in the neighbourhood who got to speak out against the City Lights at 99 Broadway. At the time we doubted our opinions mattered. In the judgment, Mr. Lee pointed out no one was there from the building to the south on Redpath, so they did not care.
The ones I knew in there said to me, “Why are you wasting your time, you know OMB will side with the developer as usual.”
Get rid of the OMB, who do not care about neighbourhoods.
Dean Rogers, Toronto
One vital role that the Ontario Municipal Board plays is that it counteracts the efforts of city residents and their elected representatives to restrict the housing supply. Economists have found strong evidence that regulations that restrict the development of new housing also increase the cost of housing substantially. Essentially, fewer homes means higher prices.
While many residents and officials are motivated by genuine concern of overdevelopment, there is often a financial incentive to maintain the (rapidly increasing) value of a Toronto home, which tends to be resident’s primary investment.
Affordable housing is a hot topic right now in Toronto, and rightly so. The ability to move to highly productive cities is important for the economic growth of the province, so we should be mindful of restrictive development policies that artificially raise the price of housing.
Jamie Naylor, Toronto
This is a good series.
Another OMB problem: I worked for a time for one of the councillors and was involved in several files where the city had numerous objections to developments, including visible ones like height and setback, and less obvious technical problems like density that would overwhelm the nearby antiquated storm and sewage systems.
I was told by city planners that when they went to the OMB it was difficult for the city to persuade credible third-party experts to testify on their behalf, because those experts feared for their reputation among developers. Apparently, you quickly get labelled and isolated and the only work you can eventually get is testifying against developers, which decreases your credibility when testifying. For this reason the brightest experts tend not to speak up on the side of the city, even though they know it might be the right thing to do.
Bruce Nagy, Toronto
Approved by the OMB, Feb. 19
I had the pleasure of working with Wilson Lee at the Region of Peel. He is a professional and competent lawyer and a fine gentlemen.
To be picked on and trashed by the big powerful Toronto Star through the work of Jennifer Pagliaro as the main bad guy at the OMB is disgraceful, especially the part about “Who Is Wilson Lee.”
I hope your omsbudperson will consider some form of apology for this abuse of your considerful power.
Larry Hawes, Georgetown, Ont.
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