On January 28th, High Park Community Alliance agreed on terms of a settlement with GreatWest Life and Minto. In what was a very difficult decision, the HPCA Executive agreed to drop our objections to the settlement the City reached with the developers last month. That means we are not actively contesting the OMB/LPAT hearing concerning our issues that was scheduled to start January 27th.
Why the change?
Our lawyer relayed to us that the City’s settlements, which were approved by City Council on December 17/18, effectively ended our opportunity to further influence the size and scope of the projects through negotiation.
HPCA was left with just one thing to do – to fight the City and the Developers at the OMB in defence of our neighbourhood and against radical intensification. Thanks to our December fundraising campaign, we were ready and able to do just that so the community would have its final say.
However, days before the January 27th hearing was set to begin, we learned of a new and specific vulnerability in our case. Our lawyer warned us that there was a serious risk that we might not be able to present our evidence to the OMB and cautioned us about proceeding.
We were faced with deciding between going to the full hearing and risk being silenced and coming away with nothing (including the satisfaction of defending our community), or agreeing to a settlement with the developers and securing community benefits from them.
With no time to involve the wider community in the discussion, we consulted with our lawyer and other advisers, some of whom expressed starkly differing opinions.
The HPCA Executive ultimately agreed the best choice for the community was to settle, knowing that no decision available to us would please everyone.
We do not see this as a victory for residents. Rather, it is a gain salvaged from the possibility of no gain at all.
We are only able to describe the settlement in general terms. But, we can say it represents a change in tactics by the HPCA which will enable us to help tenants and local residents during the period of construction and thereafter.
There is still one Party at the OMB (challenging based on natural heritage regulations that protect High Park), and the Board is hearing that argument this week. We do not know when the tribunal will issue its decision.
We plan to hold a membership meeting so that you and your neighbours can learn more about the process and the outcome. We will invite the City and our Councillor to present the plans they negotiated for their settlement. The HPCA executive and our lawyer will be there to explain our rationale for the decisions we’ve taken.
Our community’s vocal involvement has been important. We believe it helped push the City and the developers toward better designs, including the removal of one tower, better separation between towers, improved stepbacks, more green space preserved, and more trees saved.
We thank you, and look forward to sharing more about our next steps.