St. George-Grosvenor Neighbourhood Association
July 2004 Newsletter
Here is an update on the recent events in our neighbourhood…
First the good news: Our Garage Sale in June was a huge success and we thank all of you who
participated and gave quality items. Penny and Mike Eizenga's spacious property on Cheapside Street was the ideal location and we were blessed with fine weather on the day. The Garage Sale raised approximately $1,700 that will be used to finance the Ontario Municipal Board hearings your Association is to be involved with later this summer.
You will recall that in January 2004 the City passed a one year Interim Control By-Law (ICB) which restricts development on the Richmond Street corridor between Grosvenor and Huron Streets and allows time for a complete study of the area to be undertaken. Two developers have appealed this ICB to the Ontario Municipal Board and the Superior Court of Justice and are seeking permission to continue building 28 and 22 bedroom rooming houses on that section of Richmond Street.
On June 28th the first of 2 Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearings was scheduled. The property owner of 915 Richmond is appealing the fact that the site plan was not approved by City staff partly due to the large number of bedrooms. This site plan was then revised by the property owner and resubmitted. Before approval of this revised site plan was granted, Council passed the Interim Control By-Law which effectively stops all development on that stretch of Richmond Street. The property owner is claiming that since the initial site plan was submitted prior to the ICB it should not be affected by the ICB and site plan approval should be given.
The chair presiding over the hearing, former City Councillor Bob Beccarea, had just been handed the dossier on the previous day. He said that because of a previous involvement with the St. George-Grosvenor Neighbourhood Association he did not feel that he could handle the case fairly. So, the hearing was deferred to August 23rd at 11am. No parts of the actual case were discussed.
The other OMB hearing has been scheduled to begin August 17th at 10:30am. Four days have been set aside. This hearing is for the appeal of the property owner for 925 Richmond Street.
The St. George-Grosvenor Association will become a party to these hearings and have retained the services of a lawyer (Catharine Patterson of McCarthy, Tetrault) and a planner (Jean Monteith) to assist us with the hearings.
In addition, it has been decided that the Neighbourhood Association will also become a party to the case currently in front of the Superior Court of Justice. This is necessary to protect our interest in the neighbourhood, to strengthen the City’s position and also will allow us the opportunity to appeal if necessary. The lawyer and planner will also assist us with this action. They both understand the limited resources (i.e. money) of a neighbourhood group and are helping us out with their time and resources. Time and location details regarding this hearing will be forthcoming.
It is important for the Association to be on the official record as opposing inappropriate development in our neighbourhood. For those who are able to attend these hearings, your support is very much appreciated.
Three actions requiring the services of a lawyer and planner is a very costly undertaking and
we appeal to residents to help preserve the Richmond Street corridor by submitting your annual dues of $100 and, if possible, any further amount you can contribute to:
St. George-Grosvenor Neighbourhood Association
C/o Karen MacDonald, Treasurer
430 St. George Street
We will continue to update you as these actions progress.
Rebecca Soltan, President. St. George/Grosvenor Neighbourhood Association.
At a municipal council election meeting here in London the other night, the loudest applause was reserved for the notion, supported by all council candidates, that the Ontario Municipal Board be abolished, or least that its powers be seriously curbed. In recent times two proposed developments that infamously infringe on environmentally sensitive public green space here in London, and that were unanimously rejected by London City council were subsequently allowed by the OMB, despite the strong opposition of local residents and representatives of City Council. The more recent of these two cases, following capitulation by the City on the grounds that it would be too costly to confront the OMB, is still being courageously fought by one of London's citizens through the courts of appeal, after it was found that the site plan of the developers contained serious misrepresentations of fact. The misrepresentations were not picked up by City staff, because the common attitude of staff, and many councillors, is that it is simply not worth while to challenge any OMB decision in favour of developers, no matter how obviously wrong or politically prejudiced the single OMB adjudicator may have been.
Clearly, something must be done to return power over municipal development from the OMB to the municipality.
I would like therefore to suggest that abolition or reform of the OMB would be a very popular act on the part of the new Liberal Government, both here in London and I am sure elsewhere, and I urge you to act with some urgence in this regard.
I was recently involved in a project using ASTER satellite data (free) to look at alteration related to gold mineralization in the Cargo Muchachos region of south-eastern California. As a result I was interested to find that the $80 I paid for a software package called ExpertGPS, which I originally bought solely for its ability to download GPS waypoints from Garmin and Brunton GPS units and relay the data into EXCEL, also included the ability to download, within ExpertGPS, a registered photomosaic of the entire US that could be zoomed down to 4 meter/pixel. Just enter a waypoint in ExpertGPS and click airphoto and you have an instant download of the airphoto from the TerraServer link; click map and it downloads a detailed 'zoomable' contoured base map centered on the entered waypoint. Use the same waypoint and the photo and map windows are registered. All so incredibly convenient!! The airphoto images + UTM grid can then be easily pasted into Autocad and layered with other transparent base and published geology maps, and used to ground truth the geology - enormously useful! Given that $80 would be enough to buy just 4 Canadian airphotos, and that even the 'old' Ontario Database digital tiles are still hundreds of dollars each, it is clear that the 'cost recovery' model of distributing map data is ludicrous and entirely self defeating. The data is there, it is already paid for, but in the case of Universities we can't have it because we can't afford it!! As someone has already stated, " That one can see US Govt maps [and airphotos] with just a click, but not Canadian ones, is just a plain embarrasment." The difference in attitude with respect to the distribution of geospatial data is now so annoying that I intend to lobby for change both the Ontario Provincial and Federal Governments through both my local members of parliament and those responsible for the various government ministries dealing with natural resources. I would encourage others to do the same!