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Making Rental Happen

Earlier this week I am reminded that York Region has the lowest percentage of rental housing (11.5%) in the whole of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). For the Province as a whole, rental accounts for 28.4%. For Canada, it is 30.6%

A fascinating presentation by Adelina Urbanski from the Region’s Community and Health Services Department tells Newmarket Council (on Monday 23 June) that the average price of a house in York Region is now an eye-watering $790,000. And we learn that only 33 rental units were completed across the entire region in 2012. Clearly, there is a pressing need to make more rental properties available. Too many people can’t afford to live in Newmarket.

Regional Councillor John Taylor underlines the point when he shares with us a conversation he had with a woman working in a Newmarket Tim Horton’s who lives in Barrie, 35 miles away, and travels to and from work every day by GO bus.

With this as background, I am intrigued to find out how councillors would deal with an impasse between a developer who wants to build a 15 storey, 225 unit, rental apartment building at 212 Davis Drive and the Town’s Planning Department whose insistence on having a public right of way cutting through the development’s car park is, apparently, threatening the future of the entire project.

On 18 June 2014, in an email exchange, Marion Plaunt, the senior planner in charge of the Secondary Plan file, tells the developer’s agent, Daniel Berholz, that it would be

“premature to modify the street pattern without a proper analysis of your application”.

She tells him

“there is sufficient time between the adoption of this plan and the final decision by the Region of York, which is anticipated in the new year (2015), for a comprehensive review of the network relative to the current application and resolution of this issue.”

This infuriates Berholz who fires back on 19 June saying he is not willing to have the public “traverse through our parking lot as part of the Town’s street network”.  He continues:

“To be clear, refusing to remove these private roads/lanes will undermine the feasibility of our plan… The Town needs to decide if they want to Make Rental Happen or if they want to place unnecessary roadblocks in our way.”

Now an increasingly muscular Taylor wants to know if the impasse between the developers and planners on 212 Davis Drive can be sorted out. If not, I sense he is prepared to move an amendment to the Secondary Plan there and then to secure the promise of much needed rental accommodation – even if it blows a hole in the cherished “fine grain network” of streets that are planned to criss-cross the land on both sides of the Yonge Davis corridors.

Step forward the Town’s Planning Chief, Rick Nethery, whose emollient words defuse a difficult problem. “There is a solution” says Nethery.

He tells councillors the developer will have “the comfort level he needs”.

We all think we know what he means.

But only Nethery knows for sure.


 

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