JP Boutros on Development, Streetfronts, & Parks Protection for Ward 16 (Eglinton-Lawrence)

Bannockburn Park

I became a supporter of the campaign to save Bannockburn Park from development back in the spring. I’ll remain active even if I lose the election on Monday. It’s unacceptable to see a public school board choose to reduce our Ward’s limited pool of public green space just to get some short-term cash.

If elected , I’ll use every means available – rules, by-laws, a City bid for the land, and appearing at the OMB hearing – to stop this development.

Development Ward-Wide

It’s time to elect a Councillor for Ward 16 who isn’t beholden to developers. To back my pledges up, I’ve refused campaign donations from developers – and I returned a donation last week to a developer who’d tried to contribute to my campaign online. Ward 16 needs independent representation to put our vision of the neighborhood first; only developers who’ve first built community support will have my support.

It’s easy for my opponents to say they want Queen’s Park to reform the Ontario Municipal Board out of existence – but we can’t wait for that. I’ve helped to beat developers at the OMB. From my experience at City Hall, I also know that we have a chance to do more locally – by amending the new development permit system to build consultation in at every step of development approvals, so character neighborhoods have a fighting chance of delaying unpopular or ill-considered developments long-before the appeal phase.

I would work with Ward 16 Residents’ Associations to help create a permanent committee to identify potential development risks in advance , to reduce the chance that neighbors will be caught off guard. I know what these associations are up against, because I was active in the Eglinton Park Residents’ Association in the previous decade.

Streetfronts

I would also fight to Save Our Streetfronts. Local businesses have told me that new “demolition clauses” are giving landlords the right to throw them out simply if they have an intent to develop – even if they’ve never received development approval or a demolition permit – and the story checks out elsewhere in Toronto. There’s a risk that these clauses could be used to start to break up the street-front business strips in our ward for condo development.

The big tax break the province forces us to give vacant storefronts also gives landlords and incentive to hold their properties empty, waiting for higher rents or for developer buyouts.

I’ll lobby Queen’s Park to get rid of this unfair and shortsighted tax break. I’ll work with colleagues to pass a by-law that limits the use of development clauses unless the landlord has a valid development permit from the City.