City Loses Heart Lake Appeal - Brampton GuardianThe proposed development at the corner of Sandalwood and Conestoga in the Heart Lake neighbourhood of Brampton is something that I've blogged about for a very, very long time. I won't rehash my reasons for supporting the development, but I will provide a recap of the story thus far:
The initial proposal was to build six apartment towers of 18, 25 and 32 storeys, six blocks of three storey townhomes and a 17,200 square foot "amenity facility." This was not supported by the City of Brampton. The developer proposed an alternative which consisted of commercial and residential building heights ranging from 3 to 20 storeys, with a single building of 26 storeys, and appealed the initial rejection to the Ontario Municipal Board in hopes of getting their new proposal approved.
At the board hearing, both sides agreed to the following:
- That high density development in an apartment form compatible with the host community is acceptable for this site;
- That office development compatible with the host community is acceptable on this site;
- That live work units are acceptable from a land use perspective on this site; however, there is no agreement on how these units should be calculated with respect to density;
- That two (2) 18 storey buildings and commercial lands uses are currently permitted on the site in the existing zoning by-law.
- The linear distance/spatial separation between the point towers, as shown on the proposed plan meets minimum acceptable standards from an urban design perspective;
- The subject site is part of the Heart Lake Town Centre and as such higher/high density forms of development as well as a variety of uses as envisaged by the Secondary Plan that are compatible with the surrounding context is permitted; and
- “Towers in the parking lot” typology which is permitted as-of-right is not
- The development conforms to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe because the plan calls for intensification within the built up area of the municipalities in the GTHA. Further, while the Plan does call for intensification in specific growth centres (of which Downtown Brampton is one), the Plan does not imply that growth outside of the growth centres should be restricted.
- The development conforms to the Provincial Policy Statement because it is intensification without adverse effects. Had there been adverse effects (actual, not perceived), then the proposal would not be in keeping with the PPS.
- Region of Peel planners concluded that the original development conformed to the Region's Official Plan, therefor a reduction under the revised proposal would also conform.
- While the proposal does not conform to the letter of the City's Official Plan, it does conform to the spirit of the Plan. The Plan calls for intensification, but the type of intensification permitted is not good planning - both sides agree to this. Since development without adverse effects is better than no development at all (something planners concluded in a report from 2008), the development is in keeping with the spirit of a Plan.
- Traffic will increase with the construction of the development, but it will be mitigated by a combination of upgrades the developer will fund and upgrades that the city was planning to do anyway.
- The cash in lieu of parkland dedication is acceptable and consistent with the provisions of the Planning Act.
For me, the conclusion to this case has been a Pyrrhic victory. The side that I supported won, but the online harassment and lost friendships was a high price to pay for my beliefs. But, I suppose this is the life of a planner - the tough decisions must be made and planners have to make them and champion them. We need to be heroes - not the ones that the public wants, the ones that they need.