It isn’t enough to carry around a camera. A tape recorder would be useful too. And, while we are at it, a pause button to allow me to get it out and capture what I just heard.
Such were my feelings last fall, just before the municipal election, when Planning Committee was discussing the proposed development Soho Champagne. This condo complex will soon be underway by Starwood Mastercraft, at the corner of Champagne and Hickory Street by the O-Train.
Neighbours were there to object to the size and height of the proposed condo building. I forget how high the original proposal was, but by time it came before planning committee it was scaled down a bit to a 20 storey and 16 storey condo on top of a 3 storey podium building.
Immediately to the south is the 853 Carling site owned by Arnon (Mike Casey), now before the OMB, who want twenty-some floors of office or condo development. I hear Charlesfort (Doug Casey) is now working up a proposal for another of their signature buildings here.
At the meeting the assigned planner for the Soho site droned on and on, jargon mixed with terminology and a mumbled jumbo of planning voodoo. But, a sudden moment of clarity! Some plain English! (this is the point where I wished I had a tape recorder). Because at this moment the planner said the Soho buildings were compliant with a good planning practice (and quite coincidentally the city’s written plan, too), a gradient of heights descending from high at Carling (the Arnon site) to the 20 storey Soho tower and further down to the 16 storey second Soho tower. And that they should continue to get lower as one went north, away from Carling, and further into the community.
The reason my bunny ears perked up wasn’t just because he mis-spoke in plain English for a moment, but because I knew that Starwood-Mastercraft had an option on the doggy-shelter site immediately north of their Soho Champagne site. A similar size to their first site, I expected them to later want another 20 and 16 storey towers on a podium for the Humane Society site. But the planner was clearly saying the next lot would have to have shorter buildings, as the height gradient continued downslope from Carling. Hmm.
Mastercraft then let the option on the Humane Society site lapse. It has now been picked up by … Ashcroft. Now the doggy site isn’t of the Our Lady of the Condos caliber; there are no giant willow trees; there will be no well-organized Island Parkers seeking to preserve it as greenspace.
But when Ashcroft comes up with plans for high rises, I do wish we had that Planning Committee tape, those vital 18 seconds, wherein the planners said good practice, and the city’s plan, was for a declining gradient away from Carling, and we all heard the Planning Committee members nodding their heads in solemn agreement.