Laird in Focus goes to appeal

Proposed Laird Dr. cross section

Laird is in focus again – this is the seventh installment in Leaside Life! Last time out (Dec., 2019) City Council had approved the plan, which incorporated the Leaside Centre (RioCan) appeal settlement, but since then there have been two new appeals. The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) held a case management conference (CMC) on Feb. 17 to consider how to handle the two appeals to the Official Plan Amendment (OPA 450) to which City Council gave final approval in July, 2020.   

Hyde Park Limited Partnership, the owner of the lands east of Brentcliffe Road (843-863 Eglinton Ave. East), has appealed multiple provisions of the Laird in Focus Plan policies for that area, including density, heights and greenspace; Leaside Residences LP, the owner of the lands on the west side of Laird, which are the subject of twin development applications for the sites north and south of Stickney Avenue (126-132 and 134 Laird Dr.), has appealed the three-metre setback from the property line the City is requiring on the west side of Laird.

While both planning areas and policies are important, the west side of Laird appeal, if it were successful, would eliminate the City’s plans for an improved streetscape on the west side of Laird, including wider sidewalks, landscape buffer, and protected bike lane.  

The CMC, held on Feb. 17, is intended to sort out the best way to proceed, who should be involved, and when. Present for the virtual meeting, in addition to lawyers for the appellants and the City, were several residents from Randolph Road, together with Doug Obright and myself representing Leaside Residents Association (LRA).  

The key consideration emerging from the proceedings was that in each case the issues raised by the appeals were linked to either current (in the case of Leaside Residences) or imminent (Hyde Park) development applications. So, rather than dealing with the appeals in isolation, it made more sense to consider them along with their respective applications. The applications for 126-132 and 134 Laird Drive were submitted last year and will be the subject of a City-arranged community consultation meeting shortly. The lawyer for Hyde Park stated that they are planning to submit a planning application “in the next couple of months” and agreed that their issues with OPA 450 would become clearer when their application was submitted to the City.  

Before the hearing, the Randolph residents, led by Donna Smythe and Andrew Smyth, had submitted Participant forms and statements for the Leaside Residences appeal, and the LRA submitted Party forms and statements for both appeals. In addition, Cycle Don Valley Midtown submitted Participants forms and statements in both appeals. After some discussion, the (LPAT) Member agreed that the LRA should be a Party for the initial proceedings, and that this status could be reconsidered later. Participants were all accepted. However, he noted that Participants are only allowed written statements – not verbal – an unfortunate change that limits resident participation.  

Next up? A second CMC will be held on May 17, 2021 at 10 a.m. Before then, the two appellants are to confirm the subject policies under their respective appeals, and produce an issues list. Stay tuned!

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.