Six houses will come down, and a new condominium building will be going up. And soon.
The Kippendavie development saga has only one chapter left, and that is the erection of the residential structure dubbed Kew Beach Living, with 60 units to be filled.
As a result of a hearing at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) on June 21, the project was given the go ahead despite objections by two of the parties and participants.
Since November 2009, the developer, Worsley Urban Partners, has been pushing to get its building plans approved.
Numerous letters and emails objecting to the development were received by the Toronto/ East York Community Council, and deputations by many residents were heard at various meetings. After failed attempts to resolve differences between the development plans and the neighbourhood’s idea of an acceptable structure, the issue was pushed to City Council.
After a mediated effort between the developers, the city, and the Kew Beach Neighbours Association (KBNA), a settlement was achieved and the parties agreed on a compromised solution.
At the OMB hearing two of the parties, both residents of the condo south of the development, argued against the project. Their concerns, although accepted by the board as heartfelt, were seen as irrelevant.
The Toronto Beach Residents Association (T-BERA) was represented at the meeting as a participant which also opposed the development. T-BERA felt that the process favours developers because of the costs involved in fighting such projects at the OMB.
“We are antidotal at best, unless we fundraise the money (minimum $50 – $75K) to hire professional planners to argue for us,” said Julia McInerney, Board Director and acting-President of T-BERA.
She added that T-BERA is “completely disappointed with the OMB decision, with city planning for recommending it and for city council for approving it. We believe, despite city assurances, that this development will set precedence for future height and density proposals within the Beach neighbourhood.“
Dino Longo, of Worsley Urban Partners said they were confident going into the hearing and are happy with the board’s decision.
“We are anxious to get started with the project, and believe that ultimately the community will be happy with it as it will enhance the neighbourhood,” said Longo. “I think this could have been solved a lot sooner,” adding that the four deferrals at Community Council level added to the painstaking process.
The KBNA was also present at the hearing as a party, and made it clear that although not entirely happy with the proposed plans, they were willing to compromise. In April KBNA members voted at a meeting in favour of accepting the settlement with the developers.
“Although we were not entirely happy with this settlement, the KBNA felt there was no better option,” said Raymon Chow, Treasurer and Membership Co-ordinator at KBNA.
Chow also echoed T-BERA’s concerns regarding the amount of money required to argue against developers at the OMB.
“Parties without legal and expert representation are not taken seriously at the OMB. The KBNA’s financial position (funded by donations) forced us to consider a settlement, as a protracted OMB testimony required in excess of $100,000. We are disappointed with the process and the associated costs,” said Chow.
One common factor in the community organizations’ view of the process is the admiration for Ward 32’s councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon. Both KBNA and T-BERA have stated that McMahon has done her best to help the organizations and the community.
“On a brighter side, our councilor Mary-Margaret McMahon is striving to make a difference through volunteer working groups and vision planning,” said McInerney.
When asked how she felt about the decision, McMahon said “the residents worked really hard, and along the process many lessons were learned.”
Demolition of the houses on the development site is expected to begin soon.