• Clarkson Village OMB Community Update – October 29, 2015

    Mayor and Council Logo

     

     

    Since my last update to the community on the subject of the Clarkson Village Study, I have had numerous e-mails, calls, letters and meetings with a number of residents passionate about the various issues. These residents have expressed to me a variety of positions and, as your Councillor, I am doing my best to take all of these views into account.

     

    A few of the residents have made statements that I feel the need to address directly.  In particular, some have accused me of not having a clear or consistent position with respect to the Clarkson Village development.

     

    My position has been consistent from the moment I decided to run for City Council and in every meeting I have had since then.  My position has not, however, been one that could boil down to a single sound-bite.  This is a complex issue with many dimensions.

     

    I have long believed that the Clarkson village neighbourhood is overdue for revitalization.  On this I think nearly everyone agrees.  It is a commercial district that borders some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the entire region, yet features run-down building facades, empty stores, poor streetscaping and businesses that are inconsistent with a “downtown” village vibe.  Businesses and residents alike have told me over and over that this neighbourhood is not living up to its potential.

     

    The facts are this:  The Provincial “Places to Grow” Planning Act, passed into law in 2005 by the McGuinty government, requires intensification along certain corridors and in particular near transit hubs.

     

    Following the receipt of a Planning Study which considered this Provincial policy direction, the previous City Council voted to cap new development at four storeys.   RioCan and a few other land holders have challenged this decision of Council at the OMB and that is where we stand today, with a hearing scheduled for November 23rd, 2015.

     

    With respect to the lands known as the RioCan site (also known as the Homesense Plaza), the unique planning history for this property with past decisions by both City Council and the OMB raise significant challenges as to what position can best be supported at the OMB. I have been repeatedly advised by legal staff that because of a previously agreed to settlement between the City and RioCan, as well as a previous OMB decision for the RioCan site, that a cap of four storeys would almost certainly be overturned.

     

    That is why a negotiated settlement with community benefits is so important: because the alternative is much worse.  This isn’t “fear mongering”. This is the reality.  If we lose this battle at the OMB, then we have no leverage to ensure that the concerns of local residents are respected.

     

    The negotiated settlement for the RioCan site includes an eight storey residential building, which would be at the street and support ground-level commercial retail uses. The building would be stepped back to overcome any shadowing concerns for neighbours to the north.  The settlement plan also calls for the development of a community square on the site that would become a hub for the entire Clarkson Village. This also means that RioCan narrows their appeal from the entire study area of the Village to their specific site.

     

    Furthermore, if and when RioCan does eventually bring a site-specific development application forward, I can assure residents that I will be working with them and RioCan to mitigate any potential impacts.

     

    This is why, in part based on input from legal staff and in part based on what I heard within the community including many voices favouring the resolution to the RioCan appeal, I endorsed and Council supported the proposed settlement for the RioCan site. 

     

    This is not the entire story, however.  There is another party to the OMB hearing and that is the land holders of properties to the east, on the south-side of Lakeshore at Meadow Wood Road.  In their appeal, the landowners are asking the OMB to uphold the previous staff recommendation to build up to six storeys.

     

    I see the planning context for this site as presenting different challenges which raise specific concerns.  Given the small footprint of this particular set of properties and the close proximity of the potential buildings to residents immediately to the south, I remain steadfast in supporting every effort to hold potential development on this site at two to four storeys.  This is a legal fight where there is the most potential to be successful based on sound planning principles.  I am pleased that my Council colleagues were able to support me instructing staff to fight this appeal. 

     

    To be clear, for these two areas, there are no immediate plans to develop, so there are no short-term impacts no matter which way the OMB decides.

     

    This matter is far from completed and I know there may be many twists in the road ahead.

     

    I am determined to ensure that we get this right and build a Clarkson village that is worthy of the neighbourhood we love.

     

    Resolution Oct 28.15 0260-2015 Clrksn Vllge OPA 9 (W2)

     

    Karen Ras

    Councillor, Ward 2

     Karen Contact Info

  • Leaf Pick-up Program, Fall 2015

    Council approved the 2015 Leaf Pickup Program on Wednesday October 14th, 2015 and flyers have now been mailed out to the areas that are receiving this service.

     

    Please find the following link for the Corporate Report that went to General Committee, October 7th, 2015.  Click on item # 3 for the Corporate Report:

    http://www7.mississauga.ca/documents/agendas/committees/general/2015/10_07_15_GC_Agenda.pdf

     

    For specific timing of leaf pick-up, please click on the following link:

    http://www6.mississauga.ca/onlinemaps/tranwork/design/html/leafguide/zmap.htm  and click on the zone or type in your street name.  The program will be starting a week later than last year.

     

    I requested Staff to investigate the possibility of rotating the pickup areas and unfortunately, it is not possible for 2015 as the areas are set during the summer and all maps and advertising materials are printed ahead of time.

     

    Staff will be carefully reviewing the areas for possible rotation in next year’s plan. The timing of the areas are based on the anticipated timing of the leaf drop due to tree species, topography and historical patterns.

  • Ward 2 Community Update: Clarkson Village Study OPA 9

    Mayor and Council Logo

     

    Since joining the Mississauga City Council last December, one issue has been at the top of my agenda and that is the future of the Clarkson Village. The decisions we make now will have an impact on this neighbourhood for generations to come and it is critical that we get it right.

     

    I have listened carefully to concerns of residents in Clarkson and across the entire Ward and nearly everyone I speak with believes that some form of revitalization is needed in the commercial district of Clarkson Village.  Unfortunately, the plan is now in front of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) because the land owners in two specific areas of Clarkson Village have appealed a decision by Council to limit density in the Village.

     

    The appeals of the Clarkson Village Study OPA 9 are scheduled to be heard by the OMB on November 23rd, 2015.  This hearing will examine two areas: the RioCan property to the north and east of the railway (the Homesense Plaza) and some properties on the south side, west of Meadowood (currently 1-2 storey commercial).  There is also a technical amendment regarding the Satellite site that was already approved by the OMB but needs to be included in this process to finalize that decision. (Clarkson Appellants-Bldg Hts Oct 20.15)

     

    The Provincial Government’s “Places to Grow Act” and accompanying Growth Plan require that official plans have intensification in certain corridors and, in particular, near transit hubs.  The nearby Clarkson GO station is a critical transit hub and Clarkson was identified as a Community Node capable of accepting greater density by professional City planners.  That is why, in 2010, City Planning Staff recommended through the Clarkson Village Study that there be up to a six-storey built-form in the area.

     

    In 2014, former Councillor Pat Mullin and the previous Council voted to cap the height of all buildings up to four stories, setting the stage for the appeals by the land owners to the OMB. The essence of the dispute is whether the OMB will be inclined to support the position of the City Council or whether the OMB will be persuaded by the analysis of Planning Staff who developed recommendations according to planning principles and their interpretation of the Provincial Planning Act.

     

    In my election campaign and every day since then, I have remained steadfast in my promise to constituents that I will always be honest and forthright, even if the truth is not popular.  I have also promised to consult regularly and listen carefully to the opinions of all residents and taxpayers.

     

    I have had a number of meetings and conversations with Residents, the Ratepayer Associations and the Participants on this file. I will be hosting a Community meeting on October 21st at Lorne Park Secondary School from 7-8:30 pm to discuss where we stand today, the draft settlement and the options going forward.  This is in advance of a City Council meeting where the matter will be dealt with on October 28th, 2015.

     

    A few months ago, the City retained outside independent legal counsel to meet with the property owners to attempt to reach a compromise and failing that, to prepare for the hearing in November.  This outside Counsel has arrived at a draft settlement with RioCan and has discussed the terms of a settlement with the other Appellants. It is up to City Council now to decide whether to accept its terms and why I need your input.

     

    A key provision will be for a negotiated settlement for the RioCan site. One part of the proposal calls for an eight storey residential building, which would be at the street and support ground-level commercial retail uses. The building would be stepped back to overcome any shadowing concerns for neighbours to the north.  The settlement plan also calls for the development of a community square on the site that would become a hub for the entire Clarkson Village. If this settlement is accepted, RioCan has also agreed to narrow their appeal from the entire study area to their specific site.

     

    It is also important to note that in 2010, the OMB issued a decision approving an eight storey retirement residence containing ground floor commercial uses, an urban square and streetscaping for the RioCan site. This development did not proceed at the time, but from a legal perspective, it is difficult for the City to now argue for 4 storeys on the entire property when 8 had already been approved.

     

    There has been no agreed to settlement regarding the properties on the south side, west of Meadowood Road.  Should those parcels proceed to the OMB hearing, the appellants will be arguing for up to 6 storeys.  I too have concerns about 6 storey buildings on these properties and the potential negative impacts on the immediate neighbours.

     

    As a general principle, my position has remained consistent throughout this process.  I support lower density (as expressed by building height restrictions) in the core Village area and slightly higher in the outer Village area near high-rise condo and apartment towers that are already in place.  Such a plan would allow for proper height transitions from the east to the west.  This kind of planning would also push residential density closer to the Clarkson GO Station transit hub, encouraging more people to utilize transit and mitigate traffic. Commercial properties, restaurants, shops and small businesses would be developed in the village core, where appropriate parking and traffic flows can be designed into the plan.

     

    I want to get Community feedback and I have also set out my bottom-line of what I want to see.  First, I want the immediate neighbours to be respected and issues such as shadowing to be mitigated as much as possible.  Second, I want to be in a position to work with property owners to ensure they build high-quality built form with architectural interest.  Third, I want a community square built that will become a hub and a destination for public art, events and community spirit. Fourth. I want to see the entire area become more pedestrian friendly. Fifth, I want traffic congestion to be mitigated as much as possible by making transit alternatives more convenient.  And sixth, I want Clarkson Village to become a thriving destination featuring great restaurants, shops and services.

     

    My fear right now is that by refusing to compromise and insisting that this matter be taken to the OMB no-matter-what, and should we lose, that we will lose our bargaining position. If the OMB sides with the Appellants, then I fear that the Community will have no leverage to wrest any concessions and we will either see nothing happen for many years or we will see unfettered development without community benefit. Bluntly, we need to be realistic about what we can achieve at these proceedings.

     

    This is the choice before us as a Community:  take our chances in legal proceeding where the odds are stacked against us, or work with the property owners to find a common vision that achieves all of our goals.

     

    Your input is welcomed and appreciated.

     

    Sincerely,

    Karen Ras, Councillor Ward 2


    Karen Contact Info

  • Lakeshore West GO: Service and Maintenance Notice

    Please be advised that GO Transit’s Lakeshore West GO line will undergo maintenance and track work between October 13 and December 15.  Defective rail ties will be replaced along the line to continue to provide a safe and reliable service.

     

    Service Impacts (Oct 13 – Dec 15):

     

    • Lakeshore West service will be reduced to hourly service after 8 p.m. during this time to allow for the work to be completed safely and efficiently.  Please see com/schedulechanges for more information.

     

    Maintenance Impacts (Oakville to Toronto Union):

     

    • Tie replacement work on three tracks between Oakville and Toronto Union will take place between November 1 and December 15, with three scheduled breaks:
      • Friday, Nov 6 to Monday, Nov 9
      • Friday, Nov 20 to Monday, Nov 23 and
      • Friday, Dec 4 to Monday, Dec 7

     

    • Residents along the rail line will be impacted by work along the tracks periodically during this time. Track work will start at 8 p.m. and continue to 4:30 a.m. to allow for minimal service impacts.

     

    • Residents living close by may hear engine and other noise from equipment required to secure the rail ties.

     

    • LED lights will be required to perform the work, but will be focussed on the tracks and should not impact homes.  Residents may also smell the creosote from the new rail ties being installed.   These impacts are expected to be minor.

     

    • The work crew will move along the line from west to east covering 2-3 kilometres each night, starting in east Oakville on November 1. Significant impacts should be limited to 2-3 hours per location as the work moves along the line.  These impacts will be felt by residents three times as work on each track will be completed before moving to the next.
  • Peel Councillors Question Need for Pricey Garbage Incinerator

    Brampton Guardian

     

    Just two years after deciding to explore the idea of building and running its own garbage incinerator, Region of Peel Council is having second thoughts.

    Councillors today received an update on the Peel Energy Recovery Centre during a special meeting of Regional Council.

    The proposed energy-from-waste plant, which would be located at the Peel Integrated Waste Management Facility site on Torbram Road in Brampton, would be built to process 250,000 tonnes of garbage a year.

    Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey introduced a motion to halt any decision on the project until her Council could get an educational session from Peel staff about the facility. With a number of new members sitting on Brampton Council, Jeffrey felt it would be prudent to take some time to go over the proposal before voting on it.

    “This will impact all our communities in a significant way,” said Jeffrey. “I believe we deserve some (more) time to consider this as a Council.”

    The project cost was estimated at $500 million but councillors heard today (Thursday, Oct. 8) that it would cost an additional $83 million. That increase is because of a number of factors such as inflation when it comes to the cost of construction and the slumping Canadian dollar, among other reasons.

    While Peel Council was willing to delay the decision to give Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon councillors more time to study the issue, several of them spoke up and questioned the wisdom of moving forward with the facility.

    “Building a huge smokestack and burning garbage is something like out of the Flintstones,” said Mississauga councillor Carolyn Parrish. “If there was a motion today to kill the (incinerator), I would do it.”

    Brampton councillor John Sprovieri said cost and the impact on the surrounding community were reasons why he voted for deferral.

    The Region of Peel has a current target of 60 per cent for recycling and reduction when it comes to waste. Last year it dealt with 516,707 tonnes of waste and managed to divert 238,630 tonnes, or about 46 per cent.

    Mississauga councillor Karen Ras said, if Peel took even a small percentage of the money it was tabbing for the incinerator and put it towards public education on the benefits of recycling, she guessed that diversion rate would rise dramatically. The Region is also switching to a biweekly, cart-based waste collection system starting in January and Ras felt it would make sense to see how it worked before agreeing to the big cost that comes with the incinerator.

    “If we were at the 95th percentile (in recycling), then maybe I would agree that building (the incinerator) is fine but we still have a lot of work to do (to increase recycling),” said Mississauga councillor George Carlson.

    Recycling and waste disposal firm U-PAK already runs a facility on Bramalea Road that burns commercial, residential and hospital waste and converts the energy into steam.

    If it is built, Peel is aiming to have the incinerator ready for 2021.

    Council today (Thursday, Oct. 8) also approved a 140,000 tonnes per year material recovery facility, a 120,000 tonnes per year anaerobic digestion facility and a 70,000 tonnes per year yard waste transfer station to help it reach its target of 75 per cent diversion by 2034. All three will either be built in Mississauga or Brampton and the estimated cost is about $138 million (not including what it will cost to acquire land to locate the facilities).

    ~with files from Roger Belgrave

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