HVVRA President’s Address at Elia Proposal Meeting

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Ian Ihnatowycz and I am President of the HVVRA. Thank you for this opportunity to make a few comments about this proposal. I would like to begin by quoting from the Official Plan for the City of Toronto.

“The Official Plan is about making the right choices and shaping Toronto’s collective future. The Plan is about getting the fundamentals right. It is about having a clear vision for the City, grounded in desirable principles that assure a successful future.

Building a successful Toronto means we have to make sustainable choices about how we grow. We have to see connections and understand the consequences of our choices. …Our choice is not whether we grow, but how well we grow. Making Toronto better should always come before making Toronto bigger, and the appropriate growth will come. ”

The plan later sets guidelines: Areas that can best accommodate the growth needs of our great city are: Downtown, including Central Waterfront, the Centres (including Etobicoke Centre), the Avenues, and the Employment Districts. Interestingly, none of these descriptions apply to our neighborhood.  The proposal that has been submitted is on a site that is part of an established Apartment Neighborhood surrounded by an established residential Neighbourhood.

The Official Plan specifically states that (and I quote) “Neighbourhoods and Apartment Neighbourhoods are considered to be physically stable areas, not areas of significant growth. Development within Neighbourhoods and Apartment Neighbourhoods will be consistent with this objective and will respect and reinforce the existing physical character of buildings, streetscapes, and open space patterns in these areas.”

Given this objective from the Official Plan, and the fact that the developer has applied for amendments to the existing Zoning Code and By Laws because they do not permit the current proposal due to its size among other things, we have several concerns.

We will not comment specifically on any aspect of the development other than to register our general concerns about the size of the proposed development and its potential impact on the surrounding neighbourhood. We have had preliminary feedback from our residents on what they feel is appropriate for this neighbourhood during the first phase of the SASP study last spring.

The height of the proposed buildings ranges from 1.7 to 4.6 times higher than the predominant existing height. The 606 proposed units represent a density that is 3.9 times larger than existing buildings.

This proposal represents massive growth and raises concerns about appropriate light (including sunlight), wind levels, privacy and security of families in adjacent dwellings.

It raises concerns about adequate hydrogeological infrastructure, including ground water and sewer systems which are already severely overloaded.

It raises concerns about the resulting traffic, noise and parking impacts on adjacent neighbourhood streets so as not to significantly diminish the residential amenity of the neighbourhood.

It raises concerns about appropriate setbacks and preservation of the abundant tree canopy present in the neighbourhood. And it raises concerns about precedents being set for further ad hoc development proposals that will inevitably be presented in the future.

Finally, it raises concerns about the combined synergistic impact of multiple projects, of other large developments that have been approved (such as Humbertown) but not even constructed yet, together with this development on all the concerns that I have already raised. Not to mention the massive turmoil this will all cause during the construction phase.

There is no question that St. Stephen’s Court needs renovation and upgrading.  We are generally in favor of reasonable and appropriate development.  However, this development and others that have already been approved but not as yet constructed, as well as still more developments that may come along haphazardly in the future, may have a significant and potentially negative impact on the entire neighbourhood.

Only a detailed study by Planning Staff can determine what is appropriate and provide a framework for future development in their planning recommendations in the form of a Site and Area Specific Plan, also known by its acronym, SASP.

The proposed development that we have seen today will impact our neighbourhood for several generations. The stakes for our Humber Valley Village are high.

In August of 2014, City Council gave approval/instruction for Planning Staff to conduct a SASP for this area.  This work has already begun and we propose that any decisions regarding this development should be deferred until after the results of the SASP are released.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Ian Ihnatowycz, President  of the HVVRA