The Aurora Council decided to move Shining Hill Estate Collections, Inc.’s application forward to the General Committee (GC) meeting at the June 26, 2019 Public Planning meeting. Even though building high-density housing on environmentally sensitive land was problematic, the developer only decreased the number of homes by 2.
R9. PDS20-045 – Application for Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-law Amendment, and Draft Plan of Subdivision Shining Hill Estate Collections Inc. 306, 370, 434 and 488 St. John’s Sideroad File Numbers: OPA-2018-01, ZBA-2018-02 & SUB2018-02.
Documents: General Committee Meeting Agenda Report No. PDS20-045 Page 6, 95 of 187 (PDF)| GC Meeting Additional Items Don Given Delegation & Report Replacement (PDF) | General Committee Meeting Report Page 1, 2, 7 of 14 (PDF).
Subsequent to the Statutory Public Meeting in 2019 (Jun-26-2019) the proposed draft plan has been revised to address comments (Page 105/187). In response to comments received at the June 2019 Statutory Public Planning Meeting, and staff and agency review comments, the following revisions were made to the proposed draft plan:
- Reduction in number of residential lots from 92 to 90 as illustrated on the proposed Development Concept;
- Increasing the lot frontage for lots located closer to St. John’s Sideroad
- Decreasing in area the residential block from 7.95 ha to 7.79 ha;
- Increasing in area the landscape buffer block from 0.25 ha to 0.28 ha;
- Increasing in area the road widening block from 0.40 ha to 0.43 ha;
- Increasing in area the private open space block from 0.69 ha to 0.77 ha;
- Increasing the stormwater management block from 0.28 ha to 0.36 ha;
- Decreasing in area the Natural Heritage block from 13.40 ha to 1.28 ha; “However, staff have included a draft plan condition that provides the Town with the option to request that Block 8 be dedicated to the Town prior to final approval of the plan.”
- Including an additional 10 m walkway/buffer (0.07 ha) now shown as Block 7;
- Introducing a Core Area Open Space (COS-1) Official Plan land use designation;
- Revising the Proposed Zoning to change from Public Open Space (01) to Private Open Space (O2).
Subsections 22(7) and 22(7.0.2) of the Planning Act states that if Council refuses the Official Plan Amendment application or fails to make a decision on it within 180 days after the receipt of the application, the applicant (or the Minister) may appeal the application to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
Subsection 34(11) of the Planning Act states that if Council refuses the Zoning By-law Amendment application or fails to make a decision on it within 120 days after the receipt of the application, the applicant (or the Minister) may appeal the application to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
Subsection 51(34) of the Planning Act states that if Council refuses the Draft Plan of Subdivision application or fails to make a decision on it within 180 days after the receipt of the application, the applicant (or the Minister) may appeal the application to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
These applications were received in 2018 and therefore, the applicant may appeal them to the LPAT at any time.
Mayor Mrakas in the Chair
Council Members: Cllr Gaertner, Cllr Gallo, Cllr Gilliland, Cllr Humfryes, Cllr Kim, Cllr Thompson
Watch full meeting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzb6BtWKmi0
Delegation (a) Don Given, Founding Partner, Malone Given Parsons Ltd., Re: Item R9 – PDS20-045 – Application for Official Plan Amendment, Zoning Bylaw Amendment, and Draft Plan of Subdivision, Shining Hill Estate Collections Inc., 306, 370, 434 and 488 St John’s Sideroad, File Numbers: OPA-2018 01, ZBA-2018-02 & SUB2018-02.
At 00:05:01 https://youtu.be/jRAPgugcsmY?t=301 Don Given, “I’m going to be very brief. You have a staff report that’s recommending, approval of the three documents: the official plan, the zoning bylaw and the draft plan. That been going on for 18 months of study and some revisions to the plan, following a public meeting. We are supportive obviously of the recommendations and make myself available for questions.”
Meeting Minutes: “Mr. Given spoke in support of the staff recommendation noting that the application has been revised as per suggestions from the Public Planning meeting, and offered to respond to any questions or comments regarding the application. General Committee received and referred the comments of the delegation to Item R9.”
Council Discussion on Item R9
At 02:41:33 https://youtu.be/jRAPgugcsmY?t=9693 Mayor Mrakas reads the Agenda Item R9.
At 02:45:18 https://youtu.be/jRAPgugcsmY?t=9918 Cllr Gallo: “Can you just confirm recommendation you had read in that last part to endorse in principle, however, I think that’s not what is before us?”
Mayor Mrakas, “Councillor I think you are correct. I am reading the old version, so I appreciate that, thank you for pointing that out. Mr. Clerk is that the Official Plan amendment application OPA 2018-01 Shining Hill Collection Inc. can you finish that up for me because I have the old version.”
Mayor Mrakas, “Councillor I will read it. The Official Plan amendment application OPA 2018-01 Shining Hill Collections Inc. be approved, a, b and c.”
At 02:46:41 https://youtu.be/jRAPgugcsmY?t=10001 Cllr Gaertner, “I spent lot of time hours, actually with the planning application watching it when came to Council to public planning about a year ago. I think Cllr Gallo was absent at that meeting and it was finally decided that it wouldn’t go to a Public Planning meeting, it would go to a General Committee meeting. There were many reasons, but one was to give the developer a chance to listen to the comments and hopefully to rework the application. So could I just ask Mr. Waters, the only thing that I can see is that instead of 92 homes it’s down to 90 homes?”
Mayor Mrakas, “Mr. Waters could you maybe confirm what changes have been made since Public Planning?”
Mr. Waters, “Thank you. Certainly, go to the report page 11 of 20, at the bottom of page 11, you’ll see a number of bullet points and you’ll see how the application was revised based on the input received from the public planning and also from the circulation of the applications. And the Councillor is quite correct that from identity point of view it’s only reduced by 2 lots but in terms of rearranging the lot fabric the plan now has the larger lots flanking St. John’s Sideroad. Those lots are, you know, anywhere from 60 to 65 frontages. And then the smaller lots, relatively speaking, our contained more into the interior and towards the valley.”
At 02:48:51 https://youtu.be/jRAPgugcsmY?t=10131 Cllr Gaertner, “The fact remains that this area is on the Oak Ridges Moraine, and it’s not supposed to be intensified. To the contrary actually, it’s supposed to have larger lots to have less impact on the site. And this is really underlined by the fact that the zoning is supposed to be compatible with the existing across the road. So in the south side of st. John’s Sideroad and Mr. Givens said he had never seen anything like this where you had to match the zoning on another side of the main street, but it just shows you how important this land is.
You know the developer has given many ways that he will try and protect the sensitivity of the area. But really, the only way to do that is to follow the permissions that are in place in the estate residential and SR. And with the estate residential that’s 2 lots per acre and the SR is 79 ft frontage. So what’s being proposed even with the changes do not accomplish the protection that is in our OP and our Zoning Bylaw. And as you said, Mr. Mayor and I agree with you and change my vote on a previous item. We have to, we have to listen to what our OP is trying to tell us. A lot of work goes into the official plans and lot of research and what was established through our current OP is what would be the appropriate kind of building to put on this lot to protect this very sensible land. There was a misunderstanding at the last public planning meeting and it’s my fault. It’s not only that we have to protect the land that is built on but we have to protect the adjoining environmental features. And there are two very sensitive and important environmental features on this land and the adjoining subdivision with the density that it wants to create is not protecting this land at all.
I don’t really know what I can say to convince Council that this is a very inappropriate development for this land. It is really unheard of that you would have to match what exists across the main street like this. It’s very unusual to have two very important environmental function areas on one property and with our OP saying yeah, you’ve not only got to protect them, you have to give extra protection through your, sorry, I don’t have it right here, and I’ll find it when I get to speak again, but it’s a poor area and there is that extra area that protects the poor area, we don’t see that very often. So I don’t know of anybody, I’m very familiar with this now because I just looked at it so recently, but sending it to GC, the lot sizes though they’ve been changed, changed closer to St. John’s Sideroad, but then they’ve been made smaller back towards the environmental function area, what I understand from Mr. Waters is is true, and you know, 92 lots, 90 lots, it kind of ends up with the same intensity.
I mean, what are we doing here? Are we are we trying to protect the environment or to help developers not protect the environment and the things that Mr. Given did say they were going to do. Yeah they’ll help a bit but the only way to protect this land is to do what our OP and current zoning says.”
At 02:54:25 https://youtu.be/jRAPgugcsmY?t=10465 Cllr Gallo, “Mr. Waters, can you please confirm whether we have any public input, based on anyone who spoke at the public planning or any notices have been gone out prior to this meeting?”
Mr. Waters, “We would have notified those interested parties that had requested notification following the public planning meeting last year as the report coming forward to GC.”
Cllr Gallo, “Has anyone from the public corresponded with us.”
Mr. Waters, “Not that I’m aware of sir.”
Cllr Gallo, “But you would know if they would have?”
Mr. Waters, “That is correct, sir.”
At 02:55:29 https://youtu.be/jRAPgugcsmY?t=10529 Cllr Gilliland, “Mr. Waters, I know that we had this public planning meeting before we had some discussion on this but can you confirm that the Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority had no objections to the plan?”
Mr. Waters, “Yes, that is correct, subject to the draft conditions that are contained in the report. The Lake Simcoe has no objections with the plan moving forward as long as those draft conditions are satisfied prior to the final agreement being executed.”
Cllr Gilliland, “With the policy planning, it is following our OPA and following those guidelines under Town of Aurora?”
Mr. Waters, “You see at the back of the report in the Appendix that we do policy analysis for the Oak Ridges Moraine in particular and we are following those policies regarding the impact to the moraine and appropriate studies that are required.”
Cllr Gilliland, “I just kind of want to clarify with some of the zoning requested that they’re doing that. In fact, part of the property they’re strengthening the environmental protection on part of their property, is that correct?”
Mr. Waters, “There is a land-form feature that’s on the property that’s identified as an open space block and is being protected with a vegetation zone around it as well. That is called a seat. That’s the only natural feature that’s been identified on the property. Is basically is a spring or lack of a better description and that is the protected with … zoning provision.”
Cllr Gilliland, “I noticed that they had with their stormwater management, they were moving that closer too, I guess, the east side of the properties. Is that correct?”
Mr. Waters, “That is correct. Through the additional work that was done subsequent to public planning comments came back from the Conservation Authority requesting that the stormwater management pond which actually it’s not a pond per se but they’re storing the water underground. It needs to be larger to accommodate the runoff from the development.”
At 02:58:24 https://youtu.be/jRAPgugcsmY?t=10704 Cllr Kim to Mr. Waters, “If I recall last planning, did the applicant, are they still planning on building the sidewalk on St. John’s Sideroad, out west, connecting the Brentwood Estates neighbourhood to this area of St. John’s? I know lot of the residents on Brentwood and the adjoining subdivision there are complaining about traffic and speed and safety issues and they’ve been in dialogue with Council for many years regarding that. And this applicant said that they would build the sidewalk to help everybody out. Is that still in place?”
Mr. Waters, “That is not going to happen because the Region is not asking for it as part of the draft plan condition.”
At 02:59:42 https://youtu.be/jRAPgugcsmY?t=10782 Cllr Kim, “You know, I understand the argument about the environment. This area is already designated as suburban residential and what we’re doing is, is changing the frontage allowing from 79 to 49 ft. And we always talk about the cost of housing. Cost of housing is going up and a large part of that is due to delay and applications going through. And I know that’s arguable but in a simple glance demand supply perspective if there is insufficient supply, then the cost pressures will rocks. Right here all we’re doing here is allowing for higher density in this area. No one’s complaining from estates value perspective.
I said last year that the market even pre-COVID, that market is in supports 1.8, 2.5 and 3 million-dollar homes for 79 foot frontage. So this is going to stay in SR1 designation and have what no development? So you know, at this stage based on the information I know and I have I’m happy to move to the GC.
And Mr. Waters can you repeat that again, in terms of what the region said about the sidewalk?”
Mr. Waters, “The sidewalk is not required and in accordance with the draft blank conditions issued by the Region, so they’re not looking at having the sidewalk installed. In fact, any widening of St. John’s is not even in their 10 year capital plan.”
Cllr Kim, “No, it’s not in the interest of the region and they don’t want to do that because their traffic tests say that it’s not necessary but I recall that the applicant said that they would do it at their cost and they would develop the sidewalk.”
Mayor Mrakas, “Councillor I will just add that the applicant, I know, is working with the Region and constantly trying to see if we can look at this. There are two things I know that the public came out to that public planning meeting about trying to cross. So we’re looking at whether crosswalk or whether lights will be put in there. It’s somewhere within there and also the sidewalk running along. I know that through the conversations the applicant has no problem putting in the sidewalk or even putting in the stoplights. It’s up to the Region now at this point. So it doesn’t look favourable from the regional standpoint. But we’re gonna, if that’s what we want that’s what we would like we’re gonna keep fighting to get that in there.”
Cllr Kim, “So, yes, I mean I don’t understand why we should improve it if we’re not paying for it and even if they say there’s no need for the local residents wanted, don’t see why not, but that’s besides the point. I thought that was a generous offer from the builder which is the reason I’m bring it up. Yeah, I’m in favour of the staff recommendations.”
At 3:03:21 https://youtu.be/jRAPgugcsmY?t=10992 Cllr Gaertner, “I know everybody is very busy but if you have a chance to look at the public planning meeting, I believe it was June 26 from last year. Two things were said by staff at that meeting. One was that if we were to follow our own Official Plan and Zoning, the density of this subdivision would be reduced by about 50 percent. So we are increasing the density that has recommended by hundred percent. The second thing that was said by staff, the intent is to protect the natural heritage that is here today. There is no way that this developer can protect the natural heritage that exists. And this is an extremely important environmental functioning piece of property. In fact, it extends, the north part of this, extends into Newmarket and is part of the Regional Greenland System. They won’t even give it to the Town to take care of because it’s part of the Regional system, it’s that important.
So, you know, I don’t really know what we’re doing. Just a comment with respect to Lake Simcoe, believe that was raised. Lake Simcoe has a completely different mandate. To watch the quality/quantity of the water, the aquatic species that are present, flooding potential, flooding protection. This is not their thing here. Yeah, they’re okay with it because it is okay, especially if we do a water balance report and a study on the quality of the water.
If we approve this subdivision, I mean, I’m just going to give up trying to protect the environment. This is a test case. This is the importance of this. The relevance of this to environmental protection is so great. And I can’t seem to make people understand. This is very disappointing especially Mister Mayor of what you said about respecting our OP and I agree with you on the last issue.
At 03:07:15 https://youtu.be/jRAPgugcsmY?t=11235 Cllr Kim, “Thank you Mister Mayor. I admire Cllr Gaertner’s advocating for the environment and I believe that we all environmentalism at heart. I do my best to have a healthy environments and have a sustainable environment. But we quite often, when comes to planning issues, or when it comes to other items that come to Council, we talk about the environmental issues and we talk about affordable housing. And it’s a delicate balance because as you know some areas of town I’m all for 8-9 storey buildings because you have more affordable housing, because there’s more denser units.
And here we have where the builder can build 75 foot frontage estate sized homes, and if you recall what happened with developments south side of town just north of Yonge and Bloomington. We had, I’m not sure how many units, 30 estates size houses, 90 foot in width and frontage. It took them about 9 to 11 years to finish building that development because they overpriced based on the market at the time or what they hoped that the market would be and it took them that long so many years to finish that development. I remember last term we had a couple of homeowners there complaining that developments still going on. And I would submit that the same thing could possibly happen here. When you have the 79 foot frontages or 80 foot frontages priced up to 2.5 to 3 million and its ongoing development for 10-12 years.
This doesn’t, you know, having 40, 50 homes, it doesn’t really help us with the supply-demand equation when it comes to affordable housing, but we can build for the double the density and more affordable housing that you certainly don’t change that equation. Well I’m oversimplifying it but then underlying facts remain in terms of remaining that delicate balance between environment and affordable housing. And those are the decisions that we make.”
Mayor Mrakas, “Any other comments or questions on this one? Okay, call the vote.”
Cllr Gaertner and Cllr Gallo against, Cllr Thompson, Cllr Kim, Cllr Gilliland and Mayor Mrakas in favour, and Cllr Humfryes (I can’t tell if she was present. The Cllr wasn’t shown on the Zoom screen during discussion of this item.)
Cllr Thompson and Cllr Humfryes did not speak to the item at all. Mayor Mrakas briefly commented on the regional sidewalk approval. The only delegation received was from the applicant. No delegations from the public.
Town Report Conclusions
Page 19/20 (112/187): “The development proposal is considered good planning, and conforms to Provincial and Regional policies and is consistent with policies of the Town’s Official Plan.”
What do you think? The final decision is to be made at the next Council meeting. However, at this point, we know that the Phase 2 Shining Hill development on St. John’s Sideroad is moving forward as the majority of Council seems to be in favour of the high density development on these environmentally sensitive lands.