The following is a summary issued by the Mimico Lakeshore Community Network, a Party in the proceedings. It is posted with their permission (and with our thanks!). A PDF of the full OMB decision (all 93 pages) can be downloaded and reviewed HERE.
This past Tuesday, August 30, Marc Denhez, the adjudicator for the Ontario Municipal Board, released his long-awaited decision on the appeal of the Mimico-by-the-Lake Secondary Plan by Shoreline Towers Inc. It is 93 pages long, and very nuanced, but it is a lot less decisive a decision than some might have expected. Essentially it tells the City to go back to the drawing boards and produce a modified Secondary Plan in accordance with certain directions.
The revised plan is to be circulated to the other parties in the case (including the Mimico Lakeshore Community Network) and filed with the Board within four months – i.e., by the end of 2016. The City had in fact asked the Board for this kind of opportunity to modify some details of the Secondary Plan.
The Board’s directions do provide a partial but (in some ways) very clear framework within which the City has to work in framing the revised Secondary Plan. The salient points are these:
- Shoreline Towers will be allowed to construct an infill building on the parking lot behind the two existing towers, in an “appropriate building envelope”. This will probably turn out to be 15 storeys in height, but set further back from the water than what was originally proposed.
- The site-specific changes that are being made to the Secondary Plan to accommodate Shoreline Towers are crafted in such a way that in the future, owners and developers will find it difficult to use them as precedents to undermine the whole Secondary Plan one site at a time. We have to expect that they will try, of course; but it will not be very easy. We at MLCN had emphasized that the business of setting precedents for the whole Secondary Plan area was our chief worry. So this feature of Marc Denhez’s decision makes us feel that we were heard.
- The Board supports a waterfront street between the new building and the linear park – something insisted on by the City and resisted by Shoreline Towers. But it need not be as wide as the City demanded, and the sidewalk need not be on City-owned land. (This all helps to squeeze the street into the very limited available space.)
- Shoreline Towers will not be allowed to treat the driveway on the north side of its property as half of a future public street, as it requested. The Board has not ruled out using either the north or the south driveway for access to the new infill building, pending construction of the waterfront street. If only the south driveway is used, that will open up the possibility of having public access through the north driveway, from Lake Shore Boulevard to the waterfront, for pedestrians and cyclists. (Note: The whole discussion of the Secondary Plan at the OMB assumed that Lake Shore Boulevard runs north and south, which in fact it does at this location.)
- The City is asked to verify that there is “congruence” between the amount of development that is anticipated in Mimico-by-the-Lake, the dedications of land and money that this will produce, the relation of parkland to the expected population, and its budgetary commitment to land acquisition and infrastructure. In other words, the City must face up to the question of whether enough public money is being invested in the neighbourhood to spur revitalization.
- The Board refused to change the “Open Space” designation of part of the Shoreline Towers property, and chastised Shoreline for taking this for granted. Credit is due to Lakeshore Planning Council for doing thorough research on this matter and insisting on bringing it to the Board’s attention. If Shoreline needs a Zoning Bylaw Amendment (and they do), then they will have to apply for it – and it is quite probable that they would get it.
- While not easing the building height restrictions and separation requirements in the Secondary Plan, the Board encouraged the City to make allowances for “architectural flourishes and imaginative shapes” and “demonstrate how the resulting built form will add to architectural interest, not detract from it”.
- Since the successful implementation of the Secondary Plan will require owners of the small apartment buildings on Lake Shore Boulevard to act together to redevelop several properties at one time, the City is asked to “address how this will come about” and put in “provisions to encourage same”.
- In order to prevent the burden of paperwork from spiralling out of control, the Board asked the City to be more explicit about the pre-consultation process and avoid creating the expectation that multiple Official Plan Amendments and appeals to the OMB will happen as a matter of course.
- Finally, the Board says that the Secondary Plan should elaborate on how “a complete community with a reasonable balance of employment and residential uses” is to be promoted.
We are proposing that MLCN, in collaboration with the Mimico Residents’ Association, should organize a public meeting in the community, no later than October, to hear different points of view on the situation as it now stands. People could not only get more information about where we are now at; it would be an opportunity to provide some feedback to the planners and politicians as the City prepares to respond to the Board’s requests.
At the end of his decision, Marc Denhez wrote:
Periodically, like clockwork, there are reminders that there is a malaise in Ontario’s planning system, which is of concern to observers in the public and private sectors alike; but seldom is the opportunity presented to go beyond cosmetic aspects and address not only the fundamentals, but alternatives. The Board can only hope that the Mimico-by-the-Lake experience may be helpful in that regard.
As PARTICIPANTS in the case, the Mimico Residents Association welcomes residents’ feedback on this decision as we prepare a statement for the follow up proceedings. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org