Reaction divided on Downsview development decision
Reaction to last week's Ontario Municipal Board approval of a massive development in Downsview is polarized between supporters and critics.
- OMB approves Downsview developmentNORTH YORK - A massive development for Downsview, anchored by a national urban park at Downsview Park, has...
On one side are people like Downsview Park president William Bryck, who celebrated the June 29 ruling.
While there are still issues to be ironed out, the OMB approved the development, which will house 20,000 residents and 22,000 workers in the area anchored by a national urban park at Downsview Park.
The OMB decided the development can go ahead because it represents good planning, is in the public interest and follows provincial intensification guidelines.
After more than three years in the works, Bryck applauded the ruling. "It's three years overdue but we've very happy and glad we're moving ahead," he said.
His comments echoed those of Downsview lawyer David Bronskill and planning consultant Paul Lowes, who said the development can now grow into a vibrant community after years of delays.
That is not the view of many in the community, including York Centre Councillor Maria Augimeri.
"The decision (last week) provides probably the most dramatic example of how the OMB is a rubber stamp for developers," she said. "This is not a simple high-rise on a corner. This is 600 acres of parkland in the centre of the GTA."
Augimeri accuses Downsview Park of neglecting residents' concerns drawn from community consultations.
"Downsview Park lawyers cited extensive community consultation in their case to approve this plan. No one asked them however how much adjustment to the plan occurred as a result of community consultation. That's because the answer is embarrassing, it's zero," she said.
Augimeri's anger was not only directed at Downsview Park.
She is furious with the federal government after former prime minister Jean Chretien at one time promised the Downsview site would be fully dedicated as greenspace.
"Now, Ottawa dropped a new city on our community instead," Augimeri said.
At the same time, she did say the community will have input on the first development neighbourhood, known as the Stanley Greene district.
"At the very least I got assurances from city planning that the Stanley Greene neighbourhood was saved for now from the OMB's rubber stamp," she said. "The approval of that plan with zero community input would have been disastrous to our community."
Albert Krivickas, vice-president of the Downsview Lands Community Voice Association, was also disappointed with the OMB decision.
In a heartfelt plea to the board, he pointed out the Stanley Greene neighbourhood has grown to 1,356 residential units, up from the 912 first proposed in 1999.
Meanwhile, another proposed neighbourhood known as William Baker has more than tripled to 3,535 units since 1999.
In addition, the new Humber River Regional Hospital will add to already overburdened roads, Krivickas said.
"At rush hour, I personally have seen emergency vehicles having to use the sidewalk in order to get through the congestion," he said.
He is also upset with the provincial government's intensification policies.
"Intensification is OK for new communities, where you have the space to design from the beginning roads and infrastructure but not for existing communities," he said.