Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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Tega decision makes clear need for OMB/land use planning reform

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Councillor Leiper responds to yesterday's decision by the Ontario Municipal Board, expressing his disappointment that Tega Homes will now be permitted to build an 18 and 12 storey condo building next to the Parkdale Market despite the hard work of residents and the opposition of City Council and the Community Design Plan for the area.

The Ontario Municipal Board’s decision to allow Tega Homes to build an 18- and 12- storey condo building next to the Parkdale Market is extremely disappointing. Residents who fought for over a year to successfully convince the City to reject the proposal have seen their and their elected officials’ will subverted far too often.

The decision demonstrates that, in an uneven battle between well-funded private interests and residents, it is critical that we get planning right. Without delving into the complicated history of this project, I believe more than ever that the five-point roadmap for planning reform I proposed in my campaign is critical. Three points in particular deserve stressing:

  1. We need to invest in our planning department to ensure that it is one of the best in the world;
  2. We need to be prepared to defend our plans at the OMB with the resources it takes to win;
  3. We need to keep the pressure on the Ontario government to reform land use planning, including OMB reform.

At a high level, in developing the Wellington West Community Design Plan (CDP), the City drew the eminently sensible conclusion that in the Parkdale-Holland Mixed Use Centre, the tallest buildings should be on the northern edge, closest to transit, transitioning down to the single family homes on the southern and eastern edges. That basic, and uncontroversial, approach has now been shattered by the OMB.

This is not acceptable. It should not be the role of the OMB to render thoughtful City planning irrelevant.

I believe that with significant and effective political opposition to this proposal from the outset and with a thoughtfully crafted planning rationale that took into account the City’s own plans and residents’ concerns, this did not have to be a loss for the community. There is challenging language in the decision about the relative performances of the respective sides. Let’s learn from this experience so that it doesn’t happen again.

Posted December 5, 2014