Yes, residents can be successful opposing developments near their homes. Five South Eglinton homeowners went to Toronto’s Committee of Adjustment with SERRA’s help. These South Eglinton residents didn’t want tall replacement homes beside them, with decks that overlook their backyards and blank walls that shade out the sun. Each time, the Committee agreed with the residents and turned down the supposedly minor variances that developers were requesting.
Four of these widely welcomed decisions have been appealed to the provincial Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) by the builders. Local councillor Josh Matlow therefore convinced his Toronto and East York Community Council colleagues to instruct City staff to defend the decisions of the Committee of Adjustment. This is a terrific support to South Eglinton residents. Fighting an appeal at the OMB requires lawyers and planners, which can cost over $10,000 if you hire them yourself. The City has lawyers and planners who know the issues. This action by Councillor Matlow shows the city government does work on behalf of the people.
Apathy and a feeling of helplessness have grown in the last decade. Many residents tell us they see no point to fighting for good planning. They say, “The developers have deep pockets and will always win, so why bother!” SERRA applauds the homeowners who would not lie down and who fought this battle. “The best part of it” one said after winning at the Committee of Adjustment, “was the happy surprise on my neighbours’ faces when they saw that we are not helpless.”
SERRA does not intervene in every dispute between neighbours. When it’s an issue of planning and good development, though, we feel the rights of existing residents have to be protected. SERRA lobbied City government, helped residents develop a winning strategy, and a SERRA Board member argued in front of the Committee of Adjustment to defend the neighbourhood.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help on a planning issue. We know how the Committee of Adjustment works and the issues that they find important. This knowledge gives you the power to change things.