U of T succeeded in getting provincial mediation in an attempt to settle an agreement over the buildings on the corner of Spadina Avenue and Sussex Avenue. A Pre-hearing Conference (PHC) on February 16 followed the January decision to go into mediation.
The February PHC set dates for a follow-up conference, which is to occur in September 2018. In the meantime, mediation with the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is set for March 1 and 2, with the actual hearing expected to be scheduled for some time in 2019.
Sue Dexter, U of T Liaison for the Harbord Village Residents’ Association, said that a settlement reached during mediation would make the follow-up PHC in September redundant. However, Dexter added that this would “require agreement on serious issues among multiple parties.”
In addition, one of the buildings on the site is subject to its own review by the Conservation Review Board, as the city has made the building a heritage site.
The corner lot has been considered by the university for years as a site where they hope to construct a new residential building for students. Since the university’s proposed plans for the building became public, there has been resistance from City Council, some community members, and neighbourhood associations in the surrounding area.
Provincial mediation was agreed upon by all groups, as concerns held by the surrounding community could be addressed on a more individual basis. Noise and safety issues, the density, height and scale of the building, and the effect of the construction on the area’s “green space” are among the concerns that both sides of the mediation hope to address with the help of the OMB.
Ceta Ramkhalawansingh of the Grange Community Association, another party recognized by the OMB on this issue, hopes that the mediation will result in the university responding “positively to the issues that have been identified and [making] changes to their proposal.”