Real Community Conversations

Sunny Mount Park & the OMB

I’m a member of the community of Hawthorne Village on the Park. Our community has not given up our battle against a developer trying to put a giant medical building in the middle of one of our favourite playgrounds; not by a long shot.

Back in March, there was standing room only for the town meeting where the plan was addressed. Neighbourhood residents showed up in droves to oppose the 30,000 square foot, 3-storey building proposed for the epicentre of our beloved Sunny Mount Park. Young and old, residents spoke about the safety risks, the environmental impact, the traffic burden and impact on the school community if that building is given the green light. To answer our concerns, the developer said they were dropping their proposal to 25,000 square feet and 2-storeys. As if that was at all an answer to our concerns.

The town opted to hold off on voting until the new proposal came in, officially. Only, it never did.

Instead, the developer doesn’t seem to be listening: not in our voices, not in the literal cries of our children. They have appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), claiming that the town never responded to their original proposal. The appeal, as filed, seeks to build the original 30,000 square foot, 3-storey building in Sunny Mount Park.

Last week was the first pre-hearing on the matter of the OMB. The neighbourhood crowd was far more modest at town hall this time, but we were there to represent those dozens of people who showed up back in March. We are continuing the battle for our park, even if it is at 10:00 am on a weekday. Those of us who could be there were.

The meeting was a short one, with the main purpose of setting a date for the next pre-hearing, which is scheduled for June 7th, 2018. The developer also claims this issue can be settled through formal mediation before June. The next pre-hearing was set as “just in case.”

The town’s lawyer made a point of greeting all of the residents in the room, explaining to us what was happening, what would be next in the process and explained to us that the town is entirely opposed to the current plan and will fight against it. He said the town definitely wants us to be heard and our community represented in this fight. For some of us, it feels like too little too late; that the time to keep this from happening was by doing due diligence before the sale of the property in the first place, to ensure we didn’t end up exactly where we now find ourselves. Having said that, it feels like the town now has our backs and will help us fight for what we know makes the most sense for our neighbourhood.

Seven of us from the community raised our hands to say we want to be participants at the OMB meeting in June. We will again speak about the benefits of the park and the myriad reasons the building has no place in our park. We will have the opportunity to address the board and go on record against this proposal.

We have been promised by the town’s lawyer that, if anything comes out of the mediation process, the new proposal will be put before the community to provide our input. We will accept nothing beyond the existing zoning; commercial use for the existing structure, which continues to deteriorate—the developer seems intent to have the existing historical building simply fall apart.  Our fight continues…