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Vaughan residents fear Ontario Land Tribunal, want ‘fair intensification’ in line with planning policy

A 12-storey condo about 9 metres away from a single, detached home isn't sound planning, residents say
July 26, 2021
Dina Al-Shibeeb

This is the first part of a three-part series looking at what is driving housing intensification in Vaughan.

Some Vaughan residents fear that a developer, who resorted to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) on June 21, might be able to usurp their municipal-granted power and skew the planning process.

The residents, who said that they have the “narrowest” strip of Highway 7 at the intersection of Kipling Avenue, won an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) agreement in 2009 that will keep their area low-rise with the maximum allowed being a four-storey building.

However, in 2019, Jack Morelli, president of First Avenue Properties, applied for amendments to allow a 16-storey building. But then, he brought it down to 12 storeys in a show of some compromise.

“Who protects the rights of residents in our existing stable low-density neighbourhoods from unfair intensification?” Ron Moro read in his deputation to Vaughan council on June 22.

“The municipality blames the region, the region blames the province, the province claims the municipality controls height and density,” Moro continued. “The developers just disregard everyone and go to the OLT. Nice planning process.”

With a great push from the province to spur further intensification amid housing supply shortage, especially that of rental and affordable housing, more developers are coming forward with bids at times seen as outrageous by residents.

“Why doesn't he build a couple of nice homes, and leave some green space for some nice families?” Maria Petrolo said in reference to Morelli.

Petrolo, who emphasized that her retiree parents aren’t moving anywhere, said alongside Moro and Rosina D'Alimonte, another resident, that they aren’t’ against development whatsoever but for “fair intensification.”

If the OLT approves the 12-storey bid, Petrolo’s family home will be only nine metres away from this new building, the residents said. This will block sunlight for them and disturb their privacy, and add more cars to the already engaged traffic issue in the area.

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She said once Morelli made the bid, residents received unsolicited calls asking if they wanted to sell their homes.