While the City is undertaking a “consultation process review” another example comes to my attention where the practice is strongly at odds with the dream.
Recall that the Centretown plan went before Planning Committee last week with last-second “compromise” provisions worked out between (some of the)developers, represented by Fotenn, and the Centretown Community Assocation (CCA). Alas, there wasn’t time to circulate these before they appeared at Committee, which left some members of the public feeling left out. And the Councillor too.
This comes on top of the fabled managed consultation session for the Big Gambling Casino Cash Cow.
To say nothing of the surprising announcement of a new multi-million dollar film studio and office complex. Where will we put it, oh, Bayview Yards would be nice. Err, maybe not. Easy come, easy go.
In last weeks marathon Planning Committee session extraordinaire, one of the eleventh-hour (literally and figuratively) agenda items was the Richcraft proposal for the Dow Motors Site at Carling and the OTrain. While the Citizen did an admirable job covering many of the many items on the Committee agenda, I think all we got of the Richcraft proposal were some pretty pictures on Reevely’s blog. There was no coverage of the proposal itself, and the odd conclusion of Committee.
Here is the Richcraft site. It is large, about 2 acres, or 70,000 square feet. We will be looking at various bits of the proposal over the next few days. But first, the lack of public consultation.
The George Dark CDP plan represents the views primarily of one professional firm, with the benefit of much input / lobbying on what goes into it. I have my issues with it, see the previous post with 72 comments: https://www.westsideaction.ca/carling-preston-cdp-72-ways-to-lose-friends-and-generate-animosity/ (a multi-part series of posts) (For your convenience, I have pulled out the key comments related to the Dow Motors site and reprinted them at the bottom of this post).
I have also wondered out loud numerous times if the proposal to totally build-over the existing low rise Little Italy community was a sort of monstrous deke, a bullfighter’s red cape, designed to focus all the community steam about something the City and the planner weren’t really interested in at all, but served as the lightning rod to divert attention from other plan elements, like the wall of high rises along Carling, and Rochester. Certainly the proposed bulldozing and land assembly isn’t characteristic of other Dark moves (such as “sparing” the identical set of houses with the same potential on the west side of the tracks, albeit in a different Councillor’s ward, or his comments on how much he thinks we need to preserve the similar neighbourhood of Mechanicsville in his current CDP going on there).
Indeed, the Preston-Carling CDP is so large it contains all sorts of details that are very difficult to tease out of the mass of jargon-filled documentation. Certainly the city didn’t even try to explain the content at its “public consultation” about the proposed CDP, just introducing it briefly then tossing the meat to the roaring lions of indignation.
Dark proposed not just land use zoning, but actually specified how many buildings at what heights were to be scattered through the neighbourhoods. Recall that this derived from the veritable snow-storm of Styrofoam high rise building models that swirled onto the 3D map of the ‘hood.
Dark allocated two towers to the Dow Motors site. It is a big site, and obviously large enough for three, a point I made in my submission to the City (which who knows if anyone actually read it). So Richcraft appeared late at night before Planning Committee and argued for “fexibility” in interpreting the Dark plan, particularly the with respect to the number of towers and the future of the Sydney Street extension and “mews” starting northwards along the east side of the OTrain multi-user pathway and greenspace. (I will return to the details of the proposal and merits of it in subsequent posts. Stay tuned!).
So Committee punted it, sending it back to staff for “review”, and to present their recommendations to full Council on 24 April. Note that the public cannot make comments to Council, and these posts are the very first time any member of the public will have seen the proposal. Council will be deciding on how many towers may be built, what sort of public spaces (or lack of) will be there, whether the road / mews will be built, and possibly the design and location of the OTrain station for a key site of the neighbourhood, and the key integration opportunity for transit-oriented development. All behind closed doors. Possibly in ignorance.
Nothing to see here folks, move along.
Yeah, there will sill be a pro-forma site plan process to go through for the Dow Motors site, but all the major decisions will have be made already. And frankly, as we look at the Dark plan and the Richcraft proposal over the next few posts, there’s a lot the public should be seeing and commenting on.
For easy reference, here are my key comments relating to the Dow Motor’s site:
18. The very tall high rise zone immediately around the Carling Station is good. There is room for more than two high rises on the Dow Motors site, especially if Sydney is shortened to cars.
24. the small park proposed at the west end of Adeline is nice, but best if there isn’t a mews separating it from the MUP, and the mews is not necessary since the existing land assembly (Dow motors, Richcraft) offers enough room for adequate turn around of vehicles onto Sydney and Carling using the developers site). So delete the mews from Sydney to Adeline.
part of comment 26: Adeline should be the main commercial and pedestrian walkway between the govt towers and the Carling Station, with no commercial required along Carling. Carling is unlikely to ever be an attractive walking street
61. We do not need a public street to connect Sydney to Adeline. The Richcraft development on this site may choose to propose project entrances to his garages on Adeline, but the public need not buy or maintain a street in perpetuity. We do need to preserve rights of way for active transportation so the site is permeable in all directions.