Posted by: HamptonIona | September 28, 2010

Planning Committee Update

The outcome of today’s meeting was not at all what was expected. Planning Committee didn’t actually end up voting on the proposal.  Sorry for the length of note below, but the outcome is quite complicated.

At today’s meeting of the Planning and Economic Development Committee (PEC), the Committee tabled a motion to refer the development at 114 Richmond Road (the Convent) to further discussion and negotiation based on Section 37 of the Planning Act.  Once the motion was passed  the rest of the meeting was adjourned so there was no discussion on the actual development.

Section 37 of the Planning Act permits Council to require agreements from the developer for the provision of services, facilities and other matters for the public good in exchange for increases in height and density.  In passing this motion, the Committee hoped that if the developer made firm concessions to the community, including potentially an actual commitment to the adaptation of the convent building for public use (to date, while Ashcroft has talked about this they have made no firm commitments and have had no discussions with the community or the Adaptive Use of the Convent Committee for quite some time) that consideration could be given to Ashcroft on height, density and other matters.

There would be public consultation on what would be appropriate services, facilities and other matters with a report going back to Planning Committee in November.  This would then be heard in mid-November by PEC and go to Council thereafter.

We have been told the following:
1) The full public will have an opportunity to have input into this decision.
2) Anyone who is not satisfied with the results will still have a chance to appear against the development (whatever it looks like) at the PEC committee when it comes forward in November.
3) The heights and densities outlined in the Secondary Plan should form the starting point for negotiations.

We had about 40 people registered to speak today.  Rather than speak on the actual development, we were all given our 5 minutes to speak on the above-referenced Motion.  We were all taken aback as we did not know that this motion was coming forward and it was hard to understand what would be the actual impact and we had to respond immediately.  Most of the 40 people did speak on the motion and most people indicated that they were prepared to seek some sort of compromise.  Some of the public voted spoke against the motion as they saw no room to negotiate or thought it would lead nowhere.  Of those in favour, many still caveated their comments and expressed concerns whether Ashcroft would negotiate in good faith and that Ashcroft would have to make further concessions beyond the adaptive use of the convent.

Ashcroft was the last to speak.  They spoke through their lawyer who indicated that Ashcroft saw no need for further negotiation with the City or the public.  They had already followed the process and in fact had a Planning Staff report that agreed with their proposed development.

Nevertheless, the Committee voted unanimously to approve the Motion.  Gord Hunter in fact indicated that he had never seen a community come out in such force against a development and he was encouraged that so many community members who, while obviously against the development as proposed, were prepared to consider compromises.  Bob Monette even expressed concern with Ashcroft’s very negative attitude.

At this time, it remains to be seen as to whether Ashcroft will sit down with the community or when that will happen.  Given the length of time that has elapsed since they first filed their application, Ashcroft could go straight to the OMB without the City even hearing their application.  We will keep you posted as we learn more.
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