Local News > Sheppard Secondary Plan Appeal by Developers Has Failed!

Sheppard Secondary Plan Appeal by Developers Has Failed!

9/22/2019
Developers appealed  the new Sheppard Lansing Secondary Plan which was rejected by the LPAT (OMB).  This means that developments along Sheppard will be kept to the limits of the Sheppard properties.  Expansion into the neighbourhood will not be permitted.  And on our side of Sheppard, that means buildings along Sheppard no taller than 4-5 storeys, sloped to the rear, containing residences on the upper floors and retail/commercial space on the main floor. 
 
We're excited to share it with you, because WLHA and its members worked hard to put in place the conditions to make this happen.  We really feel this is great news for our community!

The Sheppard Lansing Secondary Plan (OPA 367) has survived appeal by the group of land speculators calling themselves the Sheppard West Lansing Ratepayers Association, plus their various friends and well-wishers.  Note that WLHA and numerous individual residents in West Lansing supported OPA 367 in writing, and this was noted in the Decision as an indication that the Secondary Plan indeed had public support by the members of the community who would be most affected by it.  The SWLRPA-sponsored petition circulated by Ms. Zapal, resident of one of the properties owned by one of the appellants, was given minimal weight by the Tribunal for reasons well articulated in the decision.

The decision by member Rossi of the LPAT was very clear:  the City's Secondary Plan for Sheppard Ave West is consistent with the provincial policies, was developed subject to a proper public consultation process and with due regard to all the necessary considerations including listening to and addressing the concerns of the various land owners, and represents a balanced approach to growth and development for the area.

The developers sought not only to throw out OPA 367, but to replace it with an "alternative secondary plan" of their own.  This plan would have seen buildings as tall as 39 storeys build next to Albert Standing park, then 25, 21, 15, 13 and then 11 storey condo developments all the way west to Easton, with all the homes on the N side of Bogert and S side of Harlandale replaced with rows of townhouses.  We were very concerned at the time of the hearing that member Rossi chose not to throw out the appellants' "alternative secondary plan", but rather heard it as a set of modifications to OPA 367 which were in the appellants' view a better fit with the various provincial planning policies.  However, now that he has done so, and rendered a decision in favour of OPA 367, his decision to hear the "alternative" (which included buildings up to 39 storeys closest to Beecroft on both sides of Sheppard) is in our view very favourable for us in relation to potential future appeals on a site specific basis.  It seems to us that these appeals will be very hard to win now, given there will be a current in-force defensible Secondary Plan standing in their way.

Note however that the site specific decisions at 53-63 Sheppard/62-68 Bogert (14 storey mixed use building along Sheppard plus 4 storey townhomes along Bogert) and at 245-255 Sheppard/ 244-258 Bogert (same, but 11 storeys on Sheppard and 3 storey townhomes on Bogert), are NOT overturned by this appeal decision.  They remain in place, and are now in my view fairly certain to be built.  The land speculators can hope to gain little more than they've already been given by means of future site-specific appeals.

Had the community, and hence WLHA, supported the initial efforts to update the Secondary Plan in 2011/12 when proposed by City staff and supported by Councillor Filion, the outcome might have been different on these two sites.  However, that is not a certainty- it is possible that another board/tribunal member may have decided differently.  That's the key problem with a Board/Tribunal which consists of one (1) appointed member, making decisions which affect the development of large areas of a city with thousands of residents.  That the decision went our way this time is not much consolation for what is a fundamentally undemocratic process.

Here's an important quote from the decision:

"This really does represent for the Tribunal the dichotomy of public versus private
interest. What is the public interest in reshaping OPA 367 using revisions as proffered
by these groups of private Appellants? Shall the Tribunal move beyond its statutory
responsibility to adjudicate the planning merits of OPA 367 to also determine the merits
of permitting the Appellants to reshape the City’s instrument in a form more suited to
their needs? The key here is the notion of the public interest, of which the City is the
steward at the municipal level, versus the private interest of a small group of
landowners who argued that their Proposed Modifications represent that public interest.
However, despite being couched at times in lofty planning language and with references
to higher-order growth, transit, intensification, population forecasts and related elements
to justify their requested amendments, the Appellants failed to provide any persuasive
evidence that their Proposed Modifications to OPA 367 constitute a public interest that
should supersede the only public interest established at the hearing: that of the City’s
authority and responsibility for municipal planning through responsible governance,
analysis and concomitant public consultation. Once tested, OPA 367 is a product of
public input as supported by the in-force, upper-tier and municipal planning instruments."

Thanks sincerely to Councillor Filion and to the City staff (counsel and witnesses) who persisted through this long hearing and intense cross-examination by the appellants' counsel.   It was hard work, but the results speak for themselves.  After so many disheartening losses on individual sites, it is gratifying to win the big battle!