Hold off on Talbot development case: city hall
Strike forces a request to postpone OMB hearing
By Kris Scheuer
(Written July 14/09 and published in the Town Crier)
The city’s seeking a postponement of an upcoming court battle over the redevelopment of Leaside’s Talbot Apartments.
A multi-year fight by Context Development to tear down three properties at 1325, 1351, 1365 Bayview Ave. is set to culminate at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing Aug. 24.
But a strike by city workers that began June 22 has meant land use planning lawyers have been redeployed to other duties. As well, some city witnesses are unionized CUPE local 416 and 79 workers marching on the picket lines.
So the city’s legal department will be formally seeking a postponement in the case the week of July 13, confirms city planning lawyer Gordon Whicher.“The City Solicitor’s office will contact the Ontario Municipal Board through this week to communicate its request and will copy the other parties,” Whicher wrote in a July 13 e-mail.
One of those parties, the Leaside Property Owners’ Association, is fighting along side the city to save the heritage properties built by former Leaside mayor Henry Howard Talbot.
Leasider Carol Burtin Fripp said the residents association is onside with the postponement.
|“As long as we get to the OMB with our money raised and can present our case, we will be prepared to do it whenever the OMB reschedules. Assuming they do reschedule,” she said. “I would hope the OMB would not want to make it look like one party (the city) is at a disadvantage at no fault of its own.”
The remaining party that will be consulted is the developer.
“A letter is being sent to Mr. Lord, solicitor for the applicant,” stated Whicher, co-counsel for the city on this case. “It requests his consent to an adjournment of the hearing date.”
When lawyer Ian Lord was contacted July 8, he had not heard the city was planning to seek an adjournment. The letter was not delivered by press time.
Whicher could not say when the OMB was expected to respond to the municipal government’s request for the adjournment. The city is seeking to delay the start date of the Aug. 24 case as well as a postponement of the July 24 day to exchange witness statements.
“We have four witnesses in the union on strike,” Whicher said July 9.
“It’s difficult to know how we would prepare those witness statements with witnesses in a strike position.”
On top of that both Whicher and co-counsel Mark Crawford, along with 16 other land use planning lawyers, are redeployed to other duties during the strike.
Whicher is covering Highway Traffic Act offences at provincial court while Crawford has been asked to answer strike-related calls with Access Toronto.
City legal has requested postponements in at least six other OMB cases since the strike began.
“So far I have adjournments for 6–8 cases from when the strike started until late July at this moment,” said John Paton, the city’s director of land use planning.
An OMB decision on the postponement of the Leaside case was not known at press time.
When I wrote this July 14, the OMB and developer’s lawyer had yet to receive the city’s request. I will be following up to find out if the city was granted the postponement in this case.