This OMB Hearing, reference PL160081, started at 10AM on May 29, 2017, chaired by David Lanthier.
- The Appellant, L. Richmond Corp. (Brad Lamb) represented by Kim Kovar
- The City represented by Jessica Braun and Alexander Suriano
- The GDNA represented by Max Allen
- Peter Clewes, Architect; Terry Wallace from LEA Consulting; and Peter Smith from Bousfields for the Appellant
- Kirk Hatcher, Planner; and Rong Yu, Urban Designer, for the City
- Valerie Eggertson and Ann Marie Strapp for the GDNA
The Appellant’s case, with 3 long days of witness testimony and cross-examination, was that the building is NOT too high (after all there are others just as high or almost just as high in the King Spadina West Precinct); that the setbacks and blank walls are just fine (after all there are other buildings with similar setbacks and blank walls); that three residential parking spots are sufficient (after all there are other buildings with reduced parking and – a bonus – they can make available, at market rent, 40 parking spaces at the Brant Park condominium less than 300 metres away); that the site can accommodate PRIVATE garbage pickup even though too small for City collection (after all many other downtown condominiums subject their residents to this extra burden).
The City (for 1.5 days) had a simple message … the site is too small. This fact is responsible for the developer’s inability to provide parking and G-type loading facilities for City garbage service; for the “tower” and “canyon” sensation resulting from the proposed height and setbacks. The City however was satisfied with the off-site 40 parking spots. City witness statements and the closing arguments accused the Appellant of “cherry picking” examples of variances from a variety of other developments and rolling them all into this one particular proposal. The Appellant, in response to the City’s setback arguments, offered this "concession": to remove south facing balconies on the top floors of the building.
The GDNA (for less than half a day total) argued that the site, being mid-block and fronted by a bike lane, afforded no place for passenger and delivery vehicles to stop. On the opening day of the hearing, the GDNA learned that the Appellant was prepared to convert one of the three resident parking spots into a “short term delivery parking” space at the rear of the building off Rush Lane (aka Graffiti Alley) … another “concession”. The GDNA countered that, although that might satisfy service/trade vehicles, passenger and delivery vehicles (driven by GPS coordinates of a known address) would have no knowledge that this rear entrance or parking space even existed.
The GDNA suggested that a drive-through on the ground floor of the building running from Richmond to Rush Lane would solve this issue. Neither the Appellant (that would destroy the esthetics of the façade!) nor the City (that would require a curb cut across bike lane and sidewalk!) liked the idea but the GDNA could see no other option … and no other option was suggested.
A second GDNA issue related to the inadequacy of community services and facilities in the vicinity of the James development. Generally in response to the Bousfields report claiming sufficiency of such, Ann Marie Strapp investigated then compiled REALISTIC and CURRENT statistics for the area that refuted those in the report. Even the Appellant’s lawyer complimented Ann Marie on her efforts and output, which can be accessed below.
The Appellant is not bound to pay Section 37 funds due to the small size of its site. However, it has offered a third "concession": a voluntary donation of $300,000 to be applied to deficiencies of this ilk.
After the closing arguments on day six of the hearing, the Chair departed to write his report which can take weeks or months. There was no indication as to which way the judgement would fall so we are in “wait and see” mode.
Documentation used throughout the hearing (measured in forests, not just trees) is now in the public domain. We post here a very small portion: