City Planning has proposed increasing the density in the area around Long Branch Station from a maximum density of 0.35 FSI in Long Branch to a minimum density of 0.6 FSI.
What is behind this proposed intensification and what are its ramifications for us as residents?
The idea behind Planning’s proposal is that it would encourage construction of more affordable housing in Long Branch and Alderwood. They’re not necessarily proposing a high rise jungle like in Mimico: they’re thinking more like basement apartments, triplexes, garden suites and so on.
Current Zoning Permissions
The portion of Long Branch that would be affected by this re-zoning is currently zoned RM. That means you already are allowed to build multi-family housing such as semi-detached homes, duplexes, triplexes, and walk-up apartments. If you want to build a triplex, you can build up to 0.6 FSI already. Same for a semi.
So, this area is already zoned with intensification in mind.
But is this really going to be the result of this proposed change in density? And is there a need for such a change?
What Is Happening
Even with these permissions, developers haven’t been building duplexes or triplexes for decades. No semi-detached homes have been built in this area in the past 15 years. Nor have any triplexes or duplexes. They have, on the other hand, been very active in trying to sever properties to build homes that go on the market for between $1.3 and $1.6 million – hardly what you could call affordable. These homes are built for single-family occupancy, with no provision for having a separate entrance for a secondary suite.
We aren’t opposed to more affordable housing. We just don’t see how the proposed policies will generate more affordable housing for people who need it.
One thing that is NOT happening on this issue – whether here or in the neighbourhoods around other major transit stations where intensification is proposed – is public consultation. We know the developers have been actively and aggressively lobbying for less restriction on density. It’s only fair that the public be given an equal opportunity before this official plan amendment gets passed by Council.
How You Might Be Affected
Should the proposed changes in density be approved as part of this official plan amendment, you could anticipate more applications to sever properties in the area shown on the map above. Instead of builders being limited to a ceiling of 0.3 FSI, it appears the City would be giving them carte blanche to build as large as they please and, with the new regulations favouring intensification, it will be very hard for residents to mount opposition.
In step with an increase in severance applications, we anticipate there will be further erosion of the tree canopy in Long Branch. In 2009, the tree canopy in Long Branch was measured at 26.5% coverage. By 2018, this had been slashed to 15.0% – the biggest decline in all of Toronto. The City has a goal of reaching 40% tree canopy coverage by 2028 – just 7 years from now – and it appears Long Branch will fall well short of this.
Just about every development application for a new build going before the Committee of Adjustment has removal or damaging of a tree as part of the application. Uncontrolled development could cause the tree canopy in Long Branch to go even lower.
This will be discussed at the October 28th meeting, which starts at 9:30 am, after which it will go to City Council for approval in November.
What You Can Do
Because Planning is regulated and administered by the City of Toronto, we suggest you make your views known to our representative, Councillor Mark Grimes. You can reach him at his office at (416) 397-9273 or by email at email@example.com. Be sure to ask about how much Planning has obtained input from residents.
You can watch the meeting of the Planning and Housing Committee on October 28th by clicking on the following link: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/decisionBodyProfile.do?function=doPrepare&meetingId=21291
Even better, by writing to the Clerk of the Planning and Housing Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org you can actually speak at the meeting to ensure your views are heard. Two Long Branch residents spoke at the last meeting of the Planning and Housing Committee. Why not you?