41 Sharron: “Leaside is a special place”

41 Sharron. Photo by Robin Dickie.
Photo by Robin Dickie.

“Leaside is a special place…Just “fixing things” (in the application) does not meet the intent of the bylaw”. So stated a Committee of Adjustment (CofA) member before making a motion to refuse the minor variance application for 41 Sharron Dr. at the January 11 hearing. The motion passed unanimously.

Recall in last month’s Leaside Life we talked about an application (22 Annesley Ave.) where an amicable resolution was reached between applicant and neighbours. What was the difference in this case? With Annesley the proposal was for an addition to the side that was in keeping with the existing home, and “fit in” with the street (actually both streets, as it was a corner property). On Sharron Dr. the proposal was to tear down an existing one and a half storey house in “Arts and Crafts” style and replace it with a much larger house with two storeys “jumped up” over an integral garage, and with a mansard roof uncharacteristic of Leaside.

Unlike Annesley where the applicant’s agent asked for a meeting with the neighbours ahead of the hearing, in this case, mediation was held under a new City program to try to resolve such cases on the day of, but prior to the hearing. Without revealing anything of the in camera discussions, I can say the application proceeded to a full hearing a couple of hours later.

In both case the applicant made changes in an effort to bridge the divide. This worked on Annesley but not on Sharron. The committee member perceptively assessed the situation:

“You say you bought the house because you like the neighbourhood…therefore the character of the area that you say you like should show up in the house being built (it doesn’t).”

Also, “the changes you are making are cosmetic; you cannot keep making micro-changes and expect to satisfy the neighbours; you have to start from the character of the neighbourhood itself.”

This CofA member really gets it. The five of us left at the North York hearing room after almost a full day attending to this matter heaved a big sigh of relief.

And thanks to the seven households who wrote letters in opposition, and especially to Richard Austin and Allan Parkin, who did so much work to analyze and organize around this application.

And finally some good news on another matter: the City is back in the TLAB hearing for 1755-1757 Bayview Ave. after withdrawing earlier (“City Must Act on Bayview Quads” Leaside Life, December 2017). It’s a “hallelujah” story, the details of which will have to wait for another day. The hearing is on February 8th. The LPOA would welcome your support.

About Geoff Kettel 222 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), member of the Toronto Preservation Board and Past Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.