Bait-and-Switch Development

There’s a proposal for the redevelopment of 890-900 Bank Street. Well, that’s not quite right, there are more like two proposals…even though to the city there’s barely even one proposal.

Sounds convoluted, huh?

A couple of years back, a new development was planned and proposed for the block. It would be a two-storey commercial development. It would have a Beer Store on the ground floor (replacing the one currently there) along with some other retail. Up top would be a Sobey’s. It was an interesting development, despite the planned 60 underground parking spots.

If you walk by the site, you’ll still see the big billboard with the public notice of this proposal. (These billboards are great, by the way…at least, until they’re not.) So if you live in the neighbourhood, you’d imagine that this proposal was humming along through the planning process.

So…when you heard about a public consultation happening this week, and you don’t have any strong thoughts on this proposal, you might not bother to go.

Except that’s not what’s being proposed.

The developer, Canderel, has a new, and rather horrible, new proposal. They want to develop a six- or seven-storey mixed use building, with retail at ground level, a seniors residence up top, and very little setback.

I’m not going to get into all the reasons it’s a bad proposal (even though I just started), no, I’m going to complain about the erroneous communication be presented to the public.

I contacted the city about this matter. Here’s what happened: the original proposal has been put on hold (I’ve been told on Twitter this is because Sobey’s backed out…because they want to get into Lebreton Flats). Before Canderel can submit its new proposal to the city (which we can just call “The Abomination”), they have to have public consultations.

This is all well and good, except that there is no mechanism in place to notify the public that the developer is changing their plan. So, if you’re ok with the original proposal, you may wind up getting blindsided when The Abomination is eventually built.

I’ve been assured by my councillor that nothing nefarious has gone on in this. I have no reason to assume that he’s wrong, except that this is the second instance within two blocks that a proposal has been changed without explicitly notifying the community.

At Bank and Fifth, a two-storey development was presented and had, at least, started through the approval process. It had the nice notification billboard (that was poorly constructed so would blow over in a strong wind). A little while ago, I heard that the proposed development at that corner was for a four-storey mixed use building.

Going to take a closer look at the new billboards (which weren’t erected at Bank Street, where the original one had been), I can see that there is, indeed, a new proposal…but from a casual viewing while walking, driving or biking down the street, that’s not obvious.

So what’s the problem here? The problem is that an unscrupulous developer could propose a modest redevelopment plan. Build up some goodwill, get the community on board…and then surreptitiously change the plan to something more ambitious and unpalatable.

The community will be mislead. And it really doesn’t matter whether or not it was mislead intentionally, it will still result in bad planning, bad engagement and perpetuate the notion that developers get to do whatever the hell they want.

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2 thoughts on “Bait-and-Switch Development

  1. Pingback: Perception and reality | 890-900 Bank Street development project

  2. Pingback: The Abomination on Bank Street | Steps from the Canal

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