September 21, 2010
MUNICIPAL CANDIDATE SUED BY DEVELOPER
FORCED TO WITHDRAW OBJECTION TO LAND CLAIM
Residents of New Toronto have been slapped with a million dollar lawsuit by a developer unless they withdraw their objections to his application to the Land Registry offices for absolute title to a disputed piece of land. Neighbours objected because they believe part of the land being claimed by the developer is publicly owned waterfront.
At 51 Lake Shore Drive land zoned “G Open Space” next to the shoreline was created by dumping fill in Lake Ontario. Local residents want this land transferred to the City or Conservation Authority to protect public access to the waterfront which the community has enjoyed for decades.
“This is bullying and intimidation” said Jem Cain of Sixteenth Street; who has been involved in the community’s efforts to ensure that the development proposal maintains a window on the lake from the Waterfront Trail. The residents want to know what regulatory statute allows the developer to claim the majority of landfill in front of his property (zoned Open Space). The residents turned to the Ministry of Natural resources for help in protecting what they believe is public land.
Ms Cain is a candidate for City Council in Ward 6 and is reluctantly withdrawing her objection to the application for absolute title. “The letter from the developer’s lawyer states that the appropriate forum to voice our concerns is the OMB and then demands that we sign away our democratic right to object,” says Ms Cain. The issue of who owns the land is before the Land Registry Offices and not the OMB. “Other residents and I have been forced to withdraw because we cannot afford to risk this outrageous claim for damages.”
Surveys of the lot at 51 Lakeshore Drive show the southern limit of the land in 1909. A 2006 survey shows that approximately 75 feet of additional land extended the lot out into the lake between 1909 and 2006. There do not appear to be any official records of when lake filling occurred or how much of the property is accreted land. Residents asked the Ministry of Natural Resources to identify and protect the land that is publicly owned. The Ministry is only claiming approximately 25 feet of landfill and has not communicated the logic behind that decision to the community.
“The only official communication I have received is threats from the developer’s lawyers. Absolutely nothing has been communicated directly from the Ministry of Natural Resources or Land Registry regarding decisions on who really owns the land,” said Ms Cain.
The developer has demanded that the residents withdraw the objections they have filed with the Land Registry Office and sign a document stating they have no objection to the developer’s application.
The developer’s proposal for seven residences on the lot will be heard by the OMB only after the issues surrounding land ownership are resolved. The site is currently occupied by a vacant building which was once a small nursing home for seniors. It sits close to the street frontage on Lakeshore Drive with the disputed area along the lake’s edge as backyard.
The current zoning will permit the development of a semi-detached dwelling unit or a single-family home. The developer is seeking approval to build six large semi-detached dwelling units and a large single family home.
“Redevelopment that reflects good planning and fits in with the existing neighbourhood would be acceptable to the neighbours. A brick fortress of seven four-story residences is out of character with this neighbourhood and will ruin the panoramic view of Lake Ontario and the city skyline that is enjoyed by thousands of people who use the Waterfront Trail year round,” says Ms Cain.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
131 Sixteenth Street, Toronto, Ontario M8V 3J9