Friday’s City Council vote on Dale – deferral and a reprieve for our community

Categories: News

Dear members – through the summer, our community has gone through a tremendous struggle on the Dale proposal, and we have lived to fight another day.

This culminated on Friday with a City Council vote to defer a decision on the heritage home demolition and condominium development proposal for 5, 7 and 9 Dale Avenue. The vote was preceded mere hours beforehand with a brand new City Planning report recommending acceptance of a slightly revised version of the previous version of the proposal. The new report, prepared in absolute secrecy from our community, represented a total about-face from two previous staff reports recommending refusal of the proposal.

In the end, thanks to enormous effort by SRRA in conjunction with MyRosedaleNeighbourhood (MRN) and North Rosedale Residents’ Association (NRRA), we succeeded in obtaining deferral of a final decision on the report pending community input.

On Friday (July 27), Council passed the following motion regarding the development proposal:

That

1. City Council receive the supplementary reports (July 25, 2018) from the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning on Items TE 34.44 and TE34.45, and request the City Solicitor and the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to report to the December 13, 2018 meeting of City Council on this matter.

2. City Council instruct the City Solicitor to request the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal to continue to hold the hearing dates currently scheduled for March 11 to 22, 2019 and to schedule a third prehearing conference for the appeal related to 5, 7, and 9 Dale Avenue (LPAT Case No. PL171267) on a date following the meeting of City Council scheduled for December 13, 2018.

3. City Council instruct the City Solicitor to consult with the parties and participants to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal appeal related to 5, 7, and 9 Dale Avenue (LPAT Case No. PL171267) regarding the revised proposal and to request at the second prehearing scheduled for September 6, 2018 that the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal schedule mediation between the parties and participants regarding the revised proposal.

The chain of key events leading up to this motion were:

February – a Heritage/Planning report recommended refusal of the application and city representation to that effect at LPAT (the new OMB); a decision on the matter was deferred at the Toronto Preservation Board (TPB) and then Toronto and East York Community Council so that staff could consider Ontario Heritage Act Part IV heritage status for 7 Dale, which would offer a significantly higher level of protection for the property. That recommendation followed the presentation of a detailed heritage consultants’ report on 7 Dale commissioned by MRN and SRRA.

June/July – a more thorough City Heritage/Planning report repeated the recommendations above and also recommended that 7 Dale be upgraded from C status to B under the South Rosedale Heritage Conservation District; TPB passed those recommendations and, with a staff report in hand that found 7 Dale comfortably meets the threshold for Part IV heritage status, recommended further consideration of the Part IV status for 7 Dale. Then at Community Council, Coun. Wong-Tam surprised all community stakeholders with a motion to send the matter on to City Council without recommendation.

The motion above was clearly cause for concern as the direction had veered from a consistent and strong “oppose” position to what appeared to be an uncertain, open question mark. This prompted NRRA, MRN and SRRA into action to meet with Coun. Wong-Tam, Coun. Mary Fragedakis (who was until a few days the ago the presumptive incumbent in our redrawn ward, and had previously indicated support for the community position), and to intensively reach out to other resident associations and heritage groups for support at City Hall.

July 23-27 (and continuing) City Council meeting – not until the end of the third day of the Council meeting was the supplementary report tabled. In the intervening time, we grew increasingly concerned that a wholesale change of course might be presented. When the report was finally posted late Thursday (see https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2018/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-119506.pdf and
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2018/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-119507.pdf), our worst fears were realized.

The report represented a negotiated settlement with the developer – a negotiation that had been held in secret, without our knowledge. And now we know the outcome: it was a very modestly tweaked version of the same application that as before called for the demolition of three heritage buildings, including 7 Dale, to make way for a large four-storey condo – and the recommendation was for council to support it. This was a full, 180-degree turn from all previous staff reports and TPB decisions. The community and all other stakeholders that had been involved in the process from day 1 had been shut out, and it was to go straight on to council for direct passage.

So we again went back to our Toronto community allies to seek support. And we actively sought a deferral to allow for community input to this brand new report, with tremendous support once again from Coun. Fragedakis, who spearheaded and tabled the motion that was ultimately passed.

In the midst of these events, Premier Ford announced the almost halving of council seats and redrawing of ward boundaries that would appear likely to move Coun. Fragedakis outside our area and reinstate Coun. Wong-Tam as one of two local incumbents. Notably, that did not deter Coun. Fragedakis from standing up for heritage preservation and community input.

Looking ahead – To say the least, this application has been a whirlwind, roller coaster ride. And it is not over yet. We are now faced with a City Planning recommendation that goes directly against the wishes of our community, falls outside the planning rules for our neighbourhood, and presents a real and present danger not only to heritage in our neighbourhood, but also to all neighbourhoods across the city.

We will face up to this challenge, as we have done to this point, and we will do all we can to succeed on behalf of the community we serve. In contrast with the behaviour we have seen with some other parties, we will do so openly, with transparency, and ethically. And with the conviction that we are representing the voice of our community, with arguments that are on the right side of this issue.

There is much more work to be done. But for the moment, our community has received a welcome reprieve.

The SRRA would like to recognize and express thanks for the effort and leadership of our allies in this matter, NRRA and in particular Kathy Lee/MRN. This has been a true collaboration, and the deferral achieved Friday is a testament to the effectiveness of teamwork.