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434 Hilson Avenue: my letter of opposition to the Committee of Adjustment

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I've written this morning to the Committee of Adjustment about the application to sub-divide and provide variances to create four, three-storey units at the corner of Hilson and Byron. It goes to hearing tomorrow. I don't write often to the Committee: it's deliberately a hands-off-to-politicians process. But, in this instance, it's not a run-of-the-mill application. Residents of Kitchissippi have worked hard over a couple of years to help craft new bylaws intended to achieve more sensitive infill. I'm very concerned that, if approved, this particular application would subvert that intent.

Constrained by the Committee's narrow mandate, the overarching Official Plan and Provincial Policy Statements on intensification, and the appealability of CoA decisions to the Ontario Municipal Board, I tend to target only the most egregious variances. I try to be judicious in the use of our time. In this instance, though, it was important to me to intervene. We won't win all of them, but sometimes it's patently obvious that residents have to take a stand.

18 August 2015

Re: File No. D08-01-15/B-00246 to D08-01-15/B-00249 434 Hilson Avenue

Dear Committee,

I am writing to oppose the application made for the property at 434 Hilson Avenue. In short, I do not consider that the variances requested are “minor” in nature, nor do they respect the intent of the zoning by-law.

The applicants are seeking around a 37% reduction in the minimum lot size for three of the new properties, as well as very significant reductions in the backyard area for two of the properties, as well as very significant reductions in the required front-yard set-backs. The increase in non-permeable space is very concerning.

These variances are required in order to fit four units onto the property in the face of zoning requirements that would, if respected, result in less density. My respectful suggestion would be that an increase in density to this degree should be the subject of a re-zoning, not a basket of variances.

I am, of course, cognizant that future applications will be subject to our new “Infill II” by-law. These new rules clarify the intent of the zoning by-law with respect to achieving a more sensitive infill, and set out Council’s vision for desirable development of our urban lands. Granting the requested variances, and thus changing the planning context for this neighbourhood, will make it more difficult to achieve our regulatory objectives.

The Hampton-Iona Community Group has set forth in some detail its objections to the requested variances. I concur fully with its positions.


Jeff Leiper

Councillor, Kitchissippi Ward 

Posted August 18, 2015