WESTON CONSULTING GROUP E-NEWSLETTER - ISSUE 11
Volatility, volatility….is this the new watchword of the economy? Given the wild gyrations in the stock market and the ongoing gloom and doom scenarios that we keep hearing about the economy emanating from the U.S. and Europe, it appears that international markets are into an ongoing long term period of volatile economic conditions.
In a certain strange and perhaps counterintuitive turn, Canada, with its strong banking system, low interest rate environment and relatively stable real estate market, appears to be benefiting from this international uncertainty. Capital seems to be flowing into Canadian real estate from all corners of the globe. From sales of raw land, investment property and even individual residential unit sales, the “international” factor is playing large. While we continue to serve our strong locally based clients including landowners, developers and builders, we are seeing more and more international clients willing to call Canada home.
When you add this reality to the increasing complexities inherent in the development approval process, it is not surprising that our firm remains extremely busy. The firm has been going through a period of slight adjustment including the addition of some new staff, notably Jim Levac. In addition, we wish Peter Smith a fond retirement after serving in the planning industry for FIFTY years, and with Weston Consulting for the past 15 of those years.
In addition to boasting of a recent Ontario Municipal Board win, we have a thoughtful article included in this edition which discusses the unfairness of how parkland contributions are applied to high density housing. Our Senior Associate, John Ghent has researched this matter thoroughly and is quite passionate about the issue.
As the firm approaches its 30th Anniversary in business we are eagerly embarking on a new era in the planning and development industry that is full of change and adjustment. To that, we can only reply…”bring it on”.
Aurora Wellness Centre gets OMB Approval
Weston Consulting Groups' client, P.A.R.C.E.L. Inc., proposed to develop a Wellness Centre, Residential Apartment Building, and Single Family Residence on a vacant parcel of land located on the South-west corner of Yonge Street and Elderberry Trail in the Town of Aurora. The Wellness Centre will include a medical clinic with pharmaceutical and nutritional accessory uses. The Residential Apartment Building will consist of 20 units. The Official Plan Amendment (OPA) and Zoning By-law Amendment (By-law) applications were initially refused by the Town of Aurora.
In a decision issued on June 16, 2011, Ontario Municipal Board Member Jan de P. Seaborn allowed appeals, in part, by P.A.R.C.E.L. Inc. against the Town of Aurora's refusal to enact the proposed OPA and By-law. Peter Smith, Senior Associate with Weston Consulting Group, provided evidence at the OMB on behalf of P.A.R.C.E.L. Inc. in support of the development. Marco Ramunno provided evidence on behalf of the Town of Aurora and recommended approval to the revised development.
Parkland – A Disincentive to High Density Residential Housing
High density residential housing will become an increasingly important cornerstone shaping the urban areas of Ontario. This form of development has long been a prominent component of the Toronto core, but not so much in the Toronto hinterland and in other municipalities across Ontario. Factors influencing this trend include provincially mandated policy direction to intensify urban areas, protect the Green Belt, preserve agricultural lands, sustain public transit, provide for affordable housing and make efficient use of existing and planned infrastructure. The goal is to make better use of existing urban areas.
In dealing with residential development applications, the Planning Act permits municipalities to take parkland either at the rate of 5% of the land area involved in the application, or at a rate not to exceed 1 ha of parkland for every 300 dwelling units. In both cases the municipality may choose to take cash in lieu of parkland and this is a common practice whenever development projects are located on lands where the municipality does not require additional park space.
The way in which the ratio formula for taking parkland (1ha per 300 dwelling units) is applied is a major issue for high density projects and will undoubtedly become a substantive issue if parkland is calculated at the maximum rate. At the extreme end of the scale, cash-in-lieu of parkland can be equal to or greater than the value of the land. For landowners, the negative financial impact to proposed projects is significant. For municipalities, this has been the source of funds for significant park development.
Ask the Planner
Is it important for a landowner to participate in Public Meetings that are advertised by a municipality and are part of the process leading to amendments to the Official Plan or Zoning By-law?
Not participating in the process is generally interpreted as the landowner having no interest in the matter – which could have very unfortunate results. It is at Public Meetings and by participating in the process that landowners can make concerns known and influence outcomes. This can be a constructive process.
WCGI is pleased to announce our new team members:
Jim Levac has joined the firm in the position of “Senior Associate”.
Jim spent the past 11 years as a senior planning consultant with Korsiak & Company, prior to which he was with the City of Mississauga and the Regional Municipality of Halton. His experience and background will provide an infusion of history, experience and innovative ideas to Weston Consulting Group. Jim’s addition to Weston Consulting has been described by one outside observer as “the perfect fit”. Jim will manage a variety of planning and land development projects across the Greater Toronto Area with particular emphasis on Mississauga, Brampton and the City of Toronto.
You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org
tel. 905-738-8080 ext. 289
Christina Sgro, a York University graduate, has joined the firm as a planner.
Christina previously worked for the Government of Ontario in a number of municipalities providing planning research, analysis, and coordination of development applications, studies, and projects.
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Christina can be reached at: email@example.com
tel. 905-738-8080, ext. 288
Carly Dodds joins the firm as a junior planner after graduating from Ryerson University with a Master of Planning (Urban Development) degree in addition to a Bachelor of Arts, Honours, from Queens University.
Carly’s responsibilities include the provision of planning and development services for a wide array of projects.
Carly can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
tel. 905-738-8080, ext. 243
2157 Lake Shore Boulevard, Toronto
Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada Inc., Vaughan
Peter Smith retires after 50 years in planning
Following a 50 year career in planning, of which the last 15 were with Weston Consulting, Peter Smith has announced his retirement.
After graduating from the University of Liverpool in1962, Peter worked for municipal government in England. Since moving to Canada in 1966, Peter has worked on a wide range of urban planning and development activities with firms such as M.M. Dillon Limited, Proctor and Redfern Limited and UMA Group Limited.