The matter of the Yonge Bernard Key Development Area (KDA) proposed plan was considered at a Council meeting on May 13th. The purpose of considering this proposed plan and the accompanying staff report was to give our staff direction and a position to defend at the upcoming Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearing. This hearing is set to begin begin on July 2nd. Given that a number of area developers/landowners appealed the 2017 KDA Plan to LPAT this tribunal will ultimately decide the fate of this plan.
During the Council Meeting on May 13th, I voiced my consistent and strong opposition to a staff recommendation to allow increased building heights and densities that would be well above and beyond those already approved by Council in the 2017 Yonge Bernard KDA Secondary Plan.
There was an extensive debate and a number of opposing views expressed by various Council members related to this topic at the Council meeting on May 13th. There was also a last minute in camera meeting called on May 14th related to this topic.
During the May 13th Council Meeting I stressed a number of points of opposition to the newly proposed plan.
These points include:
1. I have always believed that the 2017 KDA Plan was an acceptable compromise for the area and I have never perceived a need to change this plan at this time. Given that no new major traffic and transit infrastructure has been approved for the area since 2017 it is my view that it is inappropriate to allow significant increases in density with resulting increases in traffic volumes beyond the 2017 Plan.
2. In April last year Council rescinded a proposed plan for the area that called for buildings up to 37 storeys and increased density. It is inappropriate in my opinion to be endorsing this current proposed plan that calls for heights and densities that are at least as high if not higher than the plan Council rejected in April last year.
3. In the Official Plan the Bernard KDA is designated as the smallest of the three KDAs in Richmond Hill. Approving the heights and densities in this prosed plan will result in this KDA being out of line with the others and could, by default and without public input, effectively increase the heights and densities of the other two KDAs and the structure of the Official Plan (which Council is currently reviewing with public input planned).
4. I believe this proposed plan lacks sufficient lands designated for parkland. The value of parkland is especially evident during this COVID-19 Pandemic and is especially important in any area that has higher density and therefore less private green space available to its residents.
5. I have always understood that the 2017 KDA Plan met and/or exceeded all of our growth obligations and targets to the Province and the Region. I maintain that it is unnecessary to approve significant additional densities which is effectively being allowed in the proposed plan.
6. Finally and perhaps most importantly, this proposed plan is inconsistent with what is envisioned by residents who live in this area. I have spoken to many residents over the years and all of them understand that some intensification will happen in the future. However they have all told me the proposed density and heights of at least 40 storeys are entirely inconsistent with their expectations for their community. I totally agree with their concerns.
I maintain a belief that what is expected from our residents is a reasonable level of development that respects established local neighbourhoods, is in line with the existing and future infrastructure investments (especially transportation and transit), and is at a level that will add vibrancy to our community. Like many things in life, a balanced and reasonable approach is needed and “more” will not produce a better result but may produce a less desirable result.
On May 31st over 100 residents attended a protest regarding this proposed plan. It is clear that this issue is important and I will continue to support their efforts to create the kind of community that they envision.
To read my blog post published prior to the May 13th meeting regarding my thoughts on the matter visit https://davidwest-richmondhill.ca/yonge-bernard-key-development-area-plan-2/
To watch a video of the May 13th Meeting please visit – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqCN9_Z9AQA (the discussion on the KDA begins at timestamp 1:44. My comments can be heard beginning at time stamp 1:51 and again at 2:27
To view the staff report that Council considered at the May 13 meeting please visit https://pub-richmondhill.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=32323