Thursday, June 30, 2011

OMB approves Downsview development

A massive development for Downsview, anchored by a national urban park at Downsview Park, has been given the go-ahead by the Ontario Municipal Board. 
While there continue to be details to work out, the board ruled Wednesday, June 29 the overall development that will welcome 20,000 residents in 9,800 residential units and 22,000 workers can proceed.
The development, proposed in the city's Downsview secondary plan, represents good planning, is in the public interest, conforms to provincial intensification guidelines and satisfies concerns raised by the community, the OMB's James McKenzie ruled.
But Albert Krivickas, vice-president of the Downsview Lands Community Voice Association, was disappointed with the ruling.
He argued the community, which didn't have money to hire its own lawyer to properly mount a challenge, was going up against giants Downsview Park, Build Toronto and the City of Toronto.
"We're just like a mouse fighting elephants," he said after the decision was announced.
"It's a sad day, I think. We did our best, we worked hard. You don't have money, you don't have nothing."
Earlier in the day, Krivickas had pleaded with the OMB to listen to community concerns, including densities and traffic worries.
He pointed out residents were once promised by former prime minister Jean Chretien the Downsview site would be fully dedicated as greenspace.
"But in 1995, the park was told that they had to run on a self-financing model and the community found out that the lands at Wilson Avenue and Billy Bishop Road had been sold to developers of big box stores for approximately $19 million," he said.
"Now, Parc Downsview Park needs financing again and wants to sell of big chunks of land to developers. We think it's too much."
Downsview Park lawyer David Bronskill argued significant residential and employment development has been part of the city's plans for the community since 1999.
All that is being done now is updating and refining that vision, he said.
And attempts to do that have dragged on for more than three years, including four occasions when city councillors have delayed making a decision, Bronskill said.
Paul Lowes, a planning consultant for Downsview Park, said the development will be a vibrant, compact community of residential and employment lands eventually centred around three subway stations: Downsview, Wilson and the future Sheppard West.
"This will not undermine the great (existing) neighbourhood. It will add to it and make it a more desirable place to be," he said.

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