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City council rejects proposed east-end high-rise

Could be back to the drawing board for developer - or the OMB
37 Johnson Street apartment building
Rendering of proposed building

City councillors gave the thumbs down Monday night to an 11-storey, 215-unit apartment building proposed for Johnson St.

The city’s general committee voted to reject proposed Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendments for the property which would be located beside an already existing 11-storey, 192-unit apartment complex that was built in 1973.

"I think it's really an overkill for the area.  That area was never designated as an intensification place.  It's not right, even if we do need apartments,"  said Councillor Bonnie Ainsworth. 

"It is providing homes for far too many people in that neighbourhood. It would be horrible."

Ainsworth says she has nothing against the developer and would welcome the project if it was built for example on Bradford Street.

"I'd be the first one there with the drum congratulating him," she said. "It's a great application but it's just in the wrong place. It's like a goose laying a golden egg but trying to lay it in the wrong place."

In a rare move, councillors voted against city staff on the project which had approved the development.

"The application has been rejected at general committee. Flat out. I guess a Hail Mary pass could happen next week and the applicant could say okay well, we have a counter proposal, or people could change their minds but essentially it's been cancelled," said Councillor Sergio Morales.

The neighbourhood has rallied against the project expressing concerns about increased traffic congestion, parking problems, shadow on nearby parkland and impede waterfront views.

Monday night's decision will be up for a final vote at council on Sept. 18 and there are concerns the developer could go to the Ontario Municipal Board. 

"It's only half a victory so far. The other shoe drops next Monday. It still has to be ratified at council on Monday," said Ainsworth. 

Ainsworth says if the project is officially rejected on Sept. 18, it does not prevent the opportunity for the development to be reintroduced in the future as a smaller project, such as townhouses.