The city needs to review the way the Ontario Municipal Board handles development applications if it wants to manage intensification in residential areas, says Highland Creek Community Association president Stephen Miles.
The community is within one of Scarborough’s busiest wards in terms of planning. Seventy-five planning applications have been made for Ward 44 and 48 development projects have broken ground since January 2006.
“[The neighbourhood] can accommodate for greater density, and I think everyone can understand that,” said Miles. “But no one is willing to live next door to an apartment building, especially in a highly residential neighbourhood.”
The city’s official plan calls for higher density residential dwellings in order to curb sprawl. The maximum height for any building is 12 metres.
While most of the development projects in Ward 44 are not for multi-family dwellings, residents are still concerned about intensification, namely highrise development, Miles said.
Condominiums don’t fit into character of suburban communities like Highland Creek, which is an older neighbourhood composed mainly of single-family homes, he added.
Highrises would also place greater strain on the community’s infrastructure which would suddenly have to accommodate a greater density of people in a small space, including an increase in traffic, Miles said.
The Ontario Municipal Board, the appeals board for development projects, often draws ire from residents’ and community associations, who say the provincial body frequently sides with developers on contentious development projects.
Miles said he could think of only one occasion when the OMB sided with the community on a development project in Highland Creek, near Morrish Road and Old Kingston Road.
“It ended up being a legal technicality,” he said.