While North York councillors have approved new houses on a former school site, they aren’t exactly happy about it.
“We will probably look at it and hold our nose and vote for it,” Willowdale Councillor David Shiner said moments before the vote.
“But in holding our nose, it stinks.”
Don Valley West Councillor John Parker said he’s upset 11 new detached houses will be “shoehorned” on the playing fields on the southern portion of the former Fairmeadow Public School at 9 Fairmeadow Ave., northwest of York Mills Road and Bayview Avenue.
The Toronto District School Board uses the school building on the northern portion of the site as administrative offices.
Don Valley West Councillor Jaye Robinson called the loss of greenspace to development “heartbreaking.”
“The Sorbara Group (which is developing the site) has done its best...to make the best of a challenging situation. There are more houses there than we want to see,” she added.
“Overall, the residents would have preferred this would not have come to be.”
A representative the Sorbara Group met several times with residents to address their concerns and reached a compromise the neighbourhood can live with, said Mitchell Shiner, speaking on behalf of St. Andrew’s Ratepayers’ Association.
“The Sorbara Group is being reasonable,” he said, adding it would have been worse if townhouses had been crammed on to the site.
The houses are too large for the lot sizes, Shiner said.
“They have substantially larger coverage than we would permit for this area,” he said.
The cash-strapped school board is developing the land in a quest for revenue, a position school boards have been forced into by the province, Shiner told The Mirror.
“The province is putting the school board in this position (because) they need cash to maintain schools. But the school board isn’t doing a good job of selling the land and making sure (properties) can accommodate houses with similar zoning to neighbouring houses,” he said.
Parker told The Mirror he applauds the province making school boards fiscally responsible but it results in the board making development decisions that don’t fit in with existing neighbourhoods.
“Fairmeadow (school site) is surplus. I have no quarrel, but that doesn’t mean they (school board officials) have to shoehorn this...in an area of majestic homes,” he said.
“It is a bit of a slap in the face.”
The development must still be approved by city council.