Toronto city council has won its latest battle to put the brakes on a proposed 27-storey condo development in the city's west end.
The city has supported increased density in efforts to curb sprawl and make better use of limited land, but it has to be "smart density," says councillor Gord Perks, who has opposed the Giraffe condo tower in his Parkdale-High Park ward for years.
The Ontario Municipal Board this week dismissed the Giraffe developer's appeal, all but quashing plans for the skyrise condominium building at the busy intersection of Dundas and Bloor.
The proposed building, the OMB decision reads, "is simply too large for the site and inappropriate for the area … and it does not represent good planning."
The Giraffe development went to the provincial arbitration body in late January after city council voted to oppose it in December. Mazyar Mortazavi, principal of TAS DesignBuild, wouldn't say Wednesday whether he will be appealing the decision or what will happen to people who had already purchased or put deposits down on units that have gone on sale.
"We're declining any comment right now, until we've further reviewed [the ruling]for ourselves," he said.
Mr. Mortazavi, whose company has won accolades for its innovative and eco-friendly modern designs, has for years touted Giraffe as a building in the same vein.
The decision is a victory not only for the city but for residents like Hilary Bell, who have been fighting to trim down the development.
"It's a very awkward space and we were concerned about the amount of traffic and problems with impeding pedestrians along the sidewalk there, which is quite narrow," she said. "It would have created a very unpleasant sidewalk environment."
Ms. Bell said she hopes an avenue study completed late last year, which set out detailed plans for what the city and residents want development in the area to look like, will make processes like this easier. The Giraffe's proponents originally argued the study, completed long after they submitted their proposal, shouldn't apply in this case.
By dismissing both this argument, and the reasoning that the Giraffe's proximity to a major intersection and TTC station should merit higher density than otherwise permitted, the OMB decision sets an important precedent, Mr. Perks said.
"We are arguing that you can have appropriate intensification. But you can't crush neighbourhoods," he said. "It's a game-changer right across the city: It says to developers, 'You can't take the big-buck, easy-way, cookie-cutter development and throw a condo tower on every corner. You actually have to think about the neighbourhood where you're building.'"