By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Developer Del Boca Vista Properties Inc. and 717 Pape Inc., is taking its zoning bylaw application for a 49-storey mixed use building at the intersection of Danforth and Pape avenues to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) after Toronto Council failed to make a decision on the proposal within the statutory time period of 90 days.
In July of 2022, the applicant submitted an application for a zoning bylaw amendment to redevelop the properties at 654-668 Danforth Ave. and 717-723 Pape Ave. for a mixed use building which will consist of residential units as well as office and retail spaces.
However, Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher told Beach Metro Community News that 90 days was simply not enough time for Toronto Council to make a decision on such a large and complex proposal, especially given that the intersection will be a major transit hub as the Bloor-Danforth line and the proposed Ontario Line will meet there.
“It’s just plain silly for this developer to think they can have that approved and rezoned on that site prior to the major Ontario Line station being introduced there” considering the complexity of the construction, she said.
“This development at Pape and Danforth is extremely complicated and cannot simply be approved [within 90 days] knowing what’s happening with the Ontario Line and that configuration,” said Fletcher.
The proposed building consists of 496 residential units made up of 38 studio apartments, 324 one-bedrooms, 84 two-bedrooms, and 50 three-bedrooms. There will also be indoor and outdoor amenity spaces on the sixth and seventh floors of the building.
The site, located on the northeast corner of Danforth and Pape avenues, is currently home to a three-storey mixed use building and a neighbouring four-storey mixed use building.
These properties are in close proximity with the future Ontario Line Pape Station – the only intersecting point where the Ontario Line crosses the Bloor-Danforth line. The Ontario Line extends from Ontario Place to the Ontario Science Centre.
Currently, residents in the neighbourhood already have access to three operating subway stations – Chester, Pape and Donlands – on the Bloor-Danforth line.
Council’s decision highly depended on the events surrounding the planned Ontario Line, but Fletcher also highlighted that the 90-day requirement was set by the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Doug Ford government in order to appease developers.
“It’s just another one of the extremely developer-friendly pieces of legislation Premier Ford has put through with Bill 23,” she said.
Bill 23 (More Homes Built Faster Act) – which hinders Toronto’s Council’s ability to implement its own affordable housing legislation – set in motion a number of elements that the provincial government said will simplify the development process in order to reach its goal of building 1.5 million homes in Ontario within the next decade.
“It changed everything [so now] if you don’t have a full response in 90 days, it can go to the Ontario Land Tribunal,” said Fletcher.
This strategy is interpreted by many as a subtle bypassing of Toronto Council considering the fact that developers are perceived to be heavily favoured at OLT hearings.
During an appearance on the Highest and Best Use Podcast, John Mutton – known as Mr. X in the Greenbelt case – can be seen bragging about his 100 percent record in OLT proceedings, winning all 18 of his cases. Although, he said that he doesn’t take a case to OLT unless he knows it will be successful.
“I think that all the [city] planners now are very young and [they’re] so risk averse,” said Mutton in the podcast. “They’re not solution finders. You have to go to the OLT and make your case there and you generally get what you want.”
With Toronto Council failing to meet the 90-day criteria due to the complex nature of this particular development, the Ontario Land Tribunal is now set to conduct a virtual Case Management Conference on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 10 a.m.
Anyone who would like to participate can do so by logging in at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/909787981.
For more information, contact the Tribunal Case Co-ordinator Hannah Nastic (Hannah.Nastic@ontario.ca).
— Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.