In recognition of Alex Murray's forty year volunteer efforts for the SRRA, the City of Toronto has named a park at the corner of Crescent Road and South Drive in honour of his work. We present Alex's remarks.
November 30, 2010
" I cannot deny that I am pleased to have my name attached to this little piece of South Rosedale.
I have worked long, hard and most of the time effectively to sustain and improve the very special environment that is South Rosedale.
A skeptic might assert that is was pretty easy to sustain those with special qualities. Rosedale is full of rich powerful people with connection in city Hall, the courts and on Bay Street. The can all get what they want.
To some degree that is true but continually there has to be a significant cluster of residents who have an enthusiasm for what South Rosedale is and a vision of what it could continue to be.
In 1962, when Laura, my wife, and moved to Toronto that vision of South Rosedale was not commonly agreed on.
Perched on the edge of downtown high rise developments, riddled with carved up mansions, rooming houses and sneaky ravine filling multi-story apartment buildings, South Rosedale through the lens of conventional economic models, was ripe for drastic redevelopment. For example, when a well meaning business school economist learned that we had bought a house in South Rosedale, he said: That is not a good buy. The market will rule and you will be surrounded by messy redevelopment.
But as an urban historian, I had studied examples in Europe, UK, and USA, where residents, particularly if they were wealthy, educated and connected, turned back the so called market forces through land use planning and zoning regulations to sustain, and enhance desirable neighbourhoods. I thought South Rosedale was such a place I had every reason to contribute to the process.
Over those forty years there has been a changing of issues but much continuity and repetition. The most singular theme that impresses and stays with me is the dedication and hard work of the SRRA Board and especially the Presidents.
It has been a most remarkable example of both stewardship and democracy.
Many Thanks to Sheldon Hellin, a Director of SRRA, for the photography and to the City of Toronto.
Committee Of Adjustment Rejects House-Behind-A-House Despite Previous Ontario Municipal Board Approval
On March 28, 2010, the Committe of Adjustment (the "Committee") rejected the Application by the owners of 80 Crescent Road for consent to sever the property and to approve 7 minor variances arising from the proposed construction of a house-behind-a-house.
Previously, in March 2009, the Ontario Municipal Board (“OMB”) approved an Application to permit the building of a house behind the present dwelling at 80 Crescent Road in a condominium arrangement. One reason for this approval was that the City’s “new” Official Plan was silent on the issue of house-behind-a-house, while the “old” zoning by-law prohibited it. The SRRA and several neighbours opposed the Application and disagreed with the decision of the OMB.
The owners of 80 Crescent Road subsequently decided to create a separate lot at the rear of the property. This triggered 7 variances from the zoning by-law that had to be approved by the Committee. Most of the variances were quite extreme; decidedly not the “minor variances” typically requested at the Committee.
Despite the advice of lawyers and civil servants, the SRRA Executive decided, on the basis of previous experience, that the non-minor character of the variances provided a small chance that the Committee would reject the Application.
SRRA Director Alex Murray submitted two letters to the Committee, one on the severance and one on the variances. He spoke briefly on the flawed logic of the OMB decision and rejected the assumption that such a gross package of variances had to be accepted “the OMB has spoken”.
Mary Lou Flynn-Guglietti, a lawyer who was on our team at the OMB, made a crisp, hard hitting presentation demolishing the Applicant’s lawyer’s defence of the variances as being minor and already approved by the OMB.
The Committee voted unanimously to reject the applications, ruling that the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan and Zoning By-law were not maintained. It also stated that the variances were not minor and “were not considered to be desirable for the appropriate development of the land.”