Update– 328 Dupont OMB Decision
After almost 2 years defending our community's vision for Dupont Street at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), late last week we received a decision on the 328 Dupont Street (Dupont and Kendal) OMB appeal – a decision that is an overwhelming and precedent-setting victory for our community.
In 2010, an application was submitted to the City (and subsequently appealed to the OMB), to redevelop 328-388 Dupont Street. Many tweaks were made to the application over the years, and ultimately the proposal put before the OMB included a 9 storey building on the western portion of the site (the area included in the Dupont Street Study area) and a 17/19 storey building on the eastern portion of the site (located outside of the Dupont Street Study area) with the 17 storeys being proposed for office uses and the 19 storey component being proposed for residential uses. Critically, the 9-storey office building and the 17 storey component of the easterly building were proposed to be built out to the rear lot line absent any real setback from the rail corridor.
This application was very concerning with respect to the overall height of the 19 storey building, but importantly also presented serious issues due to the absence of a setback from the rail corridor. The Dupont Street Secondary Plan, as settled at the OMB last year, includes a requirement for at least a 20 metre setback from the rail corridor for buildings containing any high occupancy use as a safety precaution. The application's proposed absence of any building setback between an office use and the rail lot line was unacceptable, and under the leadership of the Annex Residents' Association and our City of Toronto staff, we stood together against the 328 Dupont proposal at the OMB.
I am pleased to inform you that the OMB has ruled that the proposal for 328 Dupont Street does not represent appropriate development for the site. The ruling has set a precedent for development adjacent to the rail corridor, refusing to allow high occupancy office uses within 20 metres of the rail corridor. This is significant - prior to this point, prevailing precedent had focused solely on precluding residential occupancy within 20 metres of a rail corridor. However, as a result of our collective opposition to this application, the ruling refuses to allow busy office uses – like daily occupied offices – within the same 20 metre area. We worked together to defend safety for both residents and office environments, and we won.
Additionally, the OMB found that the 19 storey building proposed for the eastern portion of the site was too tall, and has limited a building here to a maximum of 12 storeys (plus mechanical). This was also an important decision. While the Dupont Street Secondary Plan's height limit is 9 stories, this 12 storey approval is for the area east of the study boundary. The Board further required additional stepbacks on the Dupont frontage above the 3rd floor.
It is now up to the owner of the site to decide whether to comply with the OMB's ruling and proceed with developing the site. At this time, we do not know if they will proceed.
As I mentioned above, this ruling has set a critical precedent for rail safety in our community, ensuring that adequate safety precautions are part of planning for future high occupancy development. As we continue our advocacy to the Federal Government for improved rail safety measures for our communities, we must also ensure we are doing everything we can to plan with safety in mind. This ruling allows us to continue to do that.
I want to sincerely thank City staff for their tireless work on this file, community members for attending countless meetings, and so many others. Additionally, this result would not have been possible without the unwavering leadership of the Annex Residents' Association (ARA). On this file, the Dupont Street Study and countless others, the ARA continues to set an example for leadership in community building and sustainable development – my sincere thanks.
I will continue to keep you updated with any further developments on the 328 Dupont file. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions on this or anything else.
For more information on the history of the 328 Dupont appeal, click here.
For more information on the Dupont Street Study and mediated settlements, click here.