The Hearing, part ii
One of our arguments was that the city designated ten stub end streets running off Preston for low rise housing, ie the two story houses there now, and with intensification, allowing for four floors. The only exception was Taggarts proposal.
The City and Developer turned this argument on its head, arguing that the real exception was that the city even recognized the low rise housing at all, and that mid rise and high rise apartments is the norm in areas close to the downtown.
If you’re in a two storey centretown house count your blessings, and your days, because you won’t last with that attitude at city hall, with the blessing of the OMB.
Designed to Fail
Some cynics in our community association argued previously that the low rise designations in the plan were tokens, scattered, minimal-sized, wierdly-bounded sacrificial zones doomed to be overrun with high rises from all the surrounding zones. Designed to fail.
It was disconcerting to have that view confirmed by the City at the hearing.
When we appealed the plan, we had a wide number of things to object to. It becomes too onerous and expensive to appeal them all, so it necessary to focus the argument on key points.
Before the hearing, the city came to us and offered settlements on several items. We negotiated significant concessions and improvements to the plan. We were told these were “without prejudice” and the settlements would not be used at the OMB.
However, they were, with both the Developer and City arguing that what came out of the settlements contradicted our positions on the remaining issues.
Of course, they didn’t review the significant concessions we did win that were consistent. Nor did it stop the City from vociferously complaining in court we were bull headed and unwilling to compromise on development.
We didn’t spend time on them either, because it would complicate the arguments.
Moral: don’t trust anyone.
I was surprised during the hearing that the city and developer brought up, over and over again, things that we did not object to in the plan.
We hadn’t objected to the appearance of the building, but the city and developer acted as if we had, spending hours on design details.
Similarly, the location of the garage entrance wasn’t contested by us, but was defended at great length and in enormous detail.
Were they defending against what they assumed we objected to, or to what community groups often object to, or were they just throwing out red herrings to distract the chair?
We found out later.