Remember No More Than Four?  Century Condos (6 Doran & 21-23 Main Street) is back for another kick at the Planning can this coming Tuesday (October 9th) with an open-microphone public meeting.  After reading some of the reports on the project, it will be a very interesting meeting.

The plan has now gone from an 8-storey to a 4-storey building, but with much more lot coverage.  While this may address height concerns for some, having the same density over the same lot area brings it’s own set of new problems while still failing to address others lingering from the original design.

As an aside, failing to address certain issues can actually be advantageous in advancing a broader development vision (an “entry wedge”) in an area by frustrating residents to sell out to ready and willing developers.  Intensification by frustration.

Back to the direct issue at hand, the Town retained Letourneau Heritage Consulting to peer review the latest Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) provided by the developer of the property.   The conclusion is as below:

Below are just a small sample of the issues that LHC points out in regards to the developer’s Heritage Assessment:

  • “fails to adequately address potential impacts related to the scale and massing of the proposed development”
  • “There should be a greater discussion concerning the use of different materials to break up the façade. As such, we disagree with the assertion that there is no impact. This is something that should be addressed. “
  • “Further, as outlined above the report does not sufficiently considered[sic] alternatives”

You can read the complete report here:  LHC Technical Memorandum

SGL was then retained by the Town to do a planning peer review.  We note the following excerpt:

The SGL report concludes with five recommendations, which are echoed in the Town report (both reports at this link):

Here is where a problem arises, one of a “chicken or the egg” nature.  Essentially the LHC report is saying the developer has to go back to the drawing board due to failure to address numerous issues of concern.  Even SGL in the body of their report is recommending that issues of height, scale and massing need to be addressed prior to the approval of the Zoning By-Law amendment.  But yet approval “in principle” of the proposal is recommended.

How are the members of the Planning & Development Committee able to vote to approve or reject this proposal if the outstanding issues are yet to be addressed?  It is akin to asking them to sign the planning equivalent of a blank cheque.  Without their review of a final HIA, the Committee members have no knowledge of how these issues will be ironed out…. or if they even are ironed out.  These issues are tougher to deal with at the Site Plan Control stage… when it is essentially a done deal.

Condition 3 essentially asks Golder, who wrote the HIA for the developer to tweak the language of the report, rather than offer concrete solutions, to the “satisfaction of the Town”.  This verbiage typically refers to the Director of Planning and the way this report is written if the Committee does not defer or reject the proposal, then it is that person who will make the decision for them.

This is an unsettling trend we have seen at the Town with more and more discretion being given to the Director of Planning and being taken away from the Committee.  The visions of what is acceptable to the Committee on this application may differ significantly from the vision of the Planning Department and its Director.

Given it is election season, it seems like this proposal is being pushed through at the 11th hour before all the details have been worked out.  Not surprising.

If you want to see how this one goes down, the public meeting is on Tuesday October 9th at 7PM in Council Chambers.  You can have your say at the beginning of the meeting at the open microphone and let the Committee know how you feel about this project.  Details are in the notice as below:

Download (PDF, 758KB)