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8-storey Richmond Hill condo called ‘insult to community’

Majority of councillors air concerns about downtown core project
Feb. 10, 2015
By Marney Beck

At a public meeting last week, councillors called a zoning amendment application for an eight-storey condo on Yonge Street just north of Major Mackenzie “premature” and a “dangerous precedent”.

Mayor Dave Barrow described the condo re-development project - with 81 apartments and four commercial stores in the downtown core - in even stronger language Feb. 4, calling the zoning application by Robert Salna Holdings Inc. an “insult to the community”.

Barrow said the fact that the applicant is taking the Town of Richmond Hill to the Ontario Municipal Board after 180 days “puts us at a disadvantage” and said he does not support the application.

Resident Donna Smith, living on nearby Richmond Street, shared her concerns that the 81 apartments would only have 89 parking spaces, noting that in her own building with one space per unit, parking difficulties lead to conflicts, especially when visitors park in available spaces.

A lack of downtown core parking was also a concern shared by Ward 4 Councillor David West, who asked for staff clarification concerning the suggested height of the condo, planned for 10217 Yonge St. and nearby 10225 Yonge St.

Under the old official plan, the height allowed in the downtown core was three and a half storeys, he was told, although the new official plan - under appeal by numerous developers at the OMB - allows five storeys.

Ward 5 Councillor Karen Cilevitz pointed out the fact that one of the developers taking the town to court over its new official plan is the Salna company, the same company asking for a zoning amendment for the condo project.

“Until the OMB decides [the fate of the new official plan], the project before us is premature,” said Cilevitz.

Regional councillors Vito Spatafora and Brenda Hogg both said that, contrary to the applicant’s statements that the new condo would be similar to the Tridel Renaissance condo just south of the site, it in no way resembles the Tridel building, built in descending levels down towards Church Street.

Spatafora pointed out the town has done “intensive” community consultation with residents and downtown businesses and the proposed condo would not fit with their wishes. As well, it would only have one entrance off high-traffic Yonge Street, as compared to the Tridel building, which has two access points.

Hogg warned accepting the application would set a “dangerous precedent” for the downtown core.

Two councillors offered more conciliatory statements about the condo. Ward 2 Councillor Tom Muench, in whose ward the condo would be located, suggested the town and developer should “work collaboratively” instead of allowing a “third-party” OMB to make decisions for Richmond Hill.

“The downtown core is in trouble,” he said, “we should not simply say no. We should step away from the emotions and ideology” and “not entrench our positions”.

Councillor Greg Beros of Ward 1 said “we shouldn’t be against something when we don’t even know what it looks like”.

The application will come back to council at a yet-undetermined date.