Give and take on Elgie House

The mediation has ended, the Ontario Municipal Board has approved the result and we can now announce what will happen at 262 Bessborough (the Thomas G. Elgie Farmhouse).

There will be two additional houses on the lot, and the Elgie Farmhouse will be moved some seven metres forward on the lot.

So the developer got all it asked for?

No, I don’t think so, but we need to recognize that in a mediation “everyone loses a little,” as the mediator said. There was a possibility we might have lost everything in a winner take all situation, as the OMB hearings tends to be.

There are a number of “wins” for the neighbours and the community: 

• Certainty with respect to conservation of the heritage house, city heritage staff will be able to review and approve the alterations. A heritage conservation easement and  a heritage landscape plan will be approved for the entire property.

• About a 10 percent reduction in overall massing.

• Better siting of the heritage building in terms of topography (crest of hill) and part of the building will be in situ, better separation between buildings and more front lawn preserved.

• An improved plan that maintains the “oneness” of the former property and the new houses will have architecture that is both compatible with Leaside and differentiated at the same time.

• Additional site plan improvements negotiated that would not otherwise have been possible, including new trees planted on abutting neighbours’ properties, screening of decks, and improvements to the blank side wall of new houses and limitations on windows placed on abutting neighbours’ side walls.

• Better working relationship with the applicant and assurance of security of the heritage building;

So watch for more on the various plans that are to be submitted by the owner.

I am now also free to disclose that I was the representative of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association in the mediation and Renee Jacoby (for Parkhurst) and Sheila Murray (for Bessborough) represented the immediate neighbours.

The LPOA was accorded full standing as a party at the mediation.

The city agreed to share the costs of an expert witness hired by the LPOA (because there was no planner available). And the neighbours agreed to contribute 50 per cent of the LPOA’s cost.

This type of cost sharing arrangement may serve as a model that would work in future OMB cases, provided that both neighbours and the community are willing to step up to the plate with financial support. The revenues from LPOA membership fees do not cover the costs of mounting a strong showing at the OMB.

About Geoff Kettel 221 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.