"The Clock Tower is a great example of the intensification we need."
Mayor Tony Van Bynen, 11 April 2016
On 28 May 2017 I formally initiated a complaint against the Director of Planning, Rick Nethery, for knowingly misleading the public about the density of the proposed Clock Tower development in the heart of the Town’s Heritage Conservation District.
If approved the proposed Clock Tower would have the highest density of any development anywhere in Town.
Yesterday, I received formal notice from the Town that my complaint had been carefully considered and rejected and that the only avenue now open to me is the Ombudsman.
The FSI (or Floor Space Index) appears throughout the Town’s by-laws. Simply put, the FSI is a measure of the ratio of a building’s gross floor area to the land area upon which it is built.
It has legal meaning. The proposed new Zoning By-law for the Yonge/Davis Corridors – currently under consideration - will even have explanatory diagrams and illustrations explaining the importance of FSI. (The slide on the right was part of a presentation to the public and developers on 1 March 2018.)
Yet we are asked to believe that the FSI is of no importance so far as the Clock Tower development is concerned, situated in the very heart of our fragile historic downtown. In assessing whether this development was appropriate in this setting we are told that “height” is more important. And “massing”. But not “density”. (FSI is a measure of density)
The Town’s Zoning By-law sets the maximum FSI for developments in the historic downtown at 1.
The Clock Tower developer (Bob Forrest) asserted his development had an FSI of 2.9. This was false and left unchallenged by the Town's Director of Planning.
In reality, the FSI is well over 4.
The developer, Bob Forrest, was trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot and, in so doing, maximise his profits - and wreck our historic downtown.
The Public was deliberately misled
The Director of Planning knew the 2.9 FSI to be incorrect when the report and recommendations on the Clock Tower went up to councillors for decision on 28 November 2016.
Over the months, I lodged a series of Freedom of Information requests but got nowhere. The shutters came down. And the padlocks went on.
On 7 December 2017 I appealed to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, telling him:
“The Town on its own admission holds no records whatsoever on the FSI and how it was calculated; no records on how the proposed underground car park complied with the Town’s Zoning By-laws; no records on the relationship between the proposed development, the underground parking component and the FSI; no records commenting on the developer’s asserted FSI of 2.9; no records on how the development and its FSI would be presented to elected officials; and no records relating to the deputation made by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario on 5 December 2016 on the Clock Tower and its purported FSI.”
Following the intervention of the Information and Privacy Commissioner the Town has now discovered new records or information - and some of these are referenced in yesterday’s decision. The Town is also doing a second trawl through additional files and I am told I can expect the results by Friday 23 March 2018.
You can see the relevant correspondence, emails and files here.
I intend to put my case to the Provincial Ombudsman.