Fun and Games at the OMB, 3/5 the hearing goes on and on and ..

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.


Some Wins

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.

Especially lawyers.

Or bureaucrats.


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.


4 thoughts on “Fun and Games at the OMB, 3/5 the hearing goes on and on and ..

  1. Interestingly you have not yet mentioned (rapid?) transit in the form of the O-Train. It is generally expected that such transit lines will eventually (perhaps not next year) put upward density pressure on the lands close to it. The concession generally accepted in theoretical planning circles (people who do not live in the neighborhood) is that land values will compensate the present owners generously. What do you say to that in the context of, for example, the Western planned LRT extensions?

    1. There’s ample density next to the Carling station as is, and the approved plan actually kept the 4-story height limit in locations *closer* to the actual station.

      I think that you can probably have a mix of tall, mid, and low-rise, which keeping Norman at 4 stories allows.

      I wouldn’t trust commitments to stick to R1 along the WLRT line’s residential areas if the city thinks that R4 (with an opportunity to double density from existing built form) is sacrificed willy nilly.

  2. Your current experience with high rise buildings near Preston is now being repeated in Westboro along Richmond Rd with Phase 2 of the LRT.

    The additional condos, Retirement homes etc that have been recently built in Westboro have not only increased traffic congestion on Richmond but greatly increased the number of cars parking in the surrounding neighborhoods.

    The proposed additional properties along Richmond Road near the proposed Phase 2 LRT stations ( eg Near Cleary) which are now up for high rise ( 12 stories) development. While these properties are small in comparison to all the highrise condos ( 30 stories) west of Woodroffe; these new additional high rise buildings will add to even more traffic to both Richmond Rd and Woodrooffe, which are now close to grid lock at rush hour as it is.

    At some point all this increased intensification will result in gridlocked streets, particularly in winter.

    The City and the OMB do not seem to be particularly concerned over this issue nor do their traffic models appear to be capable of predicting future gridlock.

    Good Luck in your OMB hearing

    1. In end, it’s the province that enables the OMB to make these decisions through its legislation and policies, that tend to disagree with communities; the OMB is enforcing those. However, one can demand that the province provide more equal weighting to communities in demonstrating public interest at the OMB.

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