Last Wednesday night [April 30] I attended a meeting at Dovercourt United Church organized by Councilor Mario Silva to inform the community about the proposed development at Dover Square (730 Dovercourt Road). In attendance were Mario Silva, David MacKillop of City Planning and several other members of the city planning department. My notes are a little sketchy but I'll try to convey the gist of what was discussed. Hopefully my summary will be supplemented and/or clarified by others.
Sterling Silver Development is the owner of the three high rise buildings just south of Bloor and Dovercourt. They have applied to the city for a zoning change to allow the construction of several additional buildings on the existing site. One is a tiered high rise building with one section being approximately 17 floors, the other approx. 12 floors. This building would be situated to the north of 730 Dovercourt. In addition they propose to build street edge townhouses along the north side of Hepbourne between Rusholme and Dovercourt, and along the east side of Rusholme between the two existing buildings. The development comprises a total of 187 additional units, with an estimated occupancy of 4-500 residents.
Two sets of diagrams were on display to depict the proposal.
David MacKillop explained that his department is required to respond to the submission within 90 days writing a report for the Community Council which would detail the planning department's initial observations of the proposal and the attitude of the surrounding community to it. He stressed that this report was not a recommendation for or against the proposal. This is a good thing since the city has done no studies on the project's potential impact to local services (roads, parking, schools, transit).
Councilor Silva indicated that although this report would not make recommendations that the tone of it would have an impact on Community Council, who will meet on May 6 to consider it. Councilor Silva also stressed that he is dead set opposed to this development and encouraged residents to oppose it. The tone of the meeting was of this sentiment.
Some residents expressed concern that if we simply oppose the development entirely that the developer will have no incentive to engage with the community or even the municipal planning process, and will simply appeal whatever decision the city renders to the Ontario Municipal Board. For those unfamiliar with it, the OMB is a provincial body whose decisions override any local planning decisions. It is a notoriously pro developer body which has been stacked with Harris conservative appointees.
These residents felt that it was important for us to stay at the table with the developer, who according to Councilor Silva and others do not have a good record in dealing with local communities. Dover Square tenants who attended the meeting stated that they are currently fighting the buildings owner over large rent increases.
A new high density development will undoubtedly have a significant impact on our community and already heavily burdened local services (anyone try getting on the Dufferin or Ossington buses during rush hour recently?) Some small scale infill housing, i.e.: townhomes, 5-6 story apartments could be a welcome addition to the neighbourhood by increasing the supply of rental stock while blending in with the overall character of the neighbhourhood.
Councilor Silva has indicated that he will be holding another information meeting, possibly with a representative of the developer in attendance in the near future.
I would encourage members of the community to engage with this process by attending upcoming meetings, contacting local politicians and city staff, discussing the issue with your neighbours and on the list serve.