The following comes from two letters that Councillor John Parker distributed publicly a month ago.
We all regret that the east side of Laird has come to be a magnet for retail development in recent years. I personally regret that the developer in this case has repeatedly declined to give me assurance that its anchor tenant won’t in fact be a Walmart.
…development applications of this sort are governed by the provincial Planning Act and by the city’s Provincial Plan and zoning bylaws… where the existing bylaws are out of line with the Official Plan, it is the Official Plan that has priority.
It is on that basis that applicants such as SmartCentre apply for rezoning with some degree of confidence of success, in that the rezoning that they seek is intended to reflect the vision set out in the Official Plan.
(It is to be remembered that the existing SmartCentre stands out as an exception in that regard: it resulted from a combined rezoning and Official Plan amendment, both of which were willingly approved by the municipality at the same time at the request of the developer. I cannot for the life of me understand how that happened.)
I have also imposed some demands of my own on the applicant… These demands have led to significant concessions and enhancements in areas of traffic management, streetscape improvement, pedestrian realm, landscaping, parking management, choice of materials, positioning of buildings and doorways, and overall design excellence.
In response to the priority that I have placed on matters of design, the developer retained the architectural firm of Diamond & Schmidt – architects of the Four Seasons Opera House in downtown Toronto and recent renovations to the interior of the Legislature Building at Queen’s Park – to design the proposed site and its structures. The result is a proposal that will be substantially more satisfactory than anything that this developer has produced before.