Kate Murray, MOGS's Director of Titles, responded to that letter.
(Click on the thumbnail below to see the letter)
One of the objectors responded to her letter with the following (She has not yet replied) ....
Ministry of Government Services
20 Dundas Street West
Ont. M5G 2C2
December 21, 2010
Attention: Kate Murray, Director of Titles
Re: Application for Absolute Title for 51 Lake Shore Drive,
Lot 103 PLAN 1478, (PIN 07612-0131) by John Zanini of Dunpar Developments
Thank you for your letter of July 20, 2010. (I have attached a copy of that letter for reference.)
The process you describe in your letter for filing an objection to a title application aligns with what I also understand it to be.
I would like to let you know what has happened since the spring.
I, along with eight neighbours, did in fact file an objection. We did this for two reasons.
- We were described in a letter from the applicant’s counsel as “interested parties” in this matter and, as it were, felt “invited”. That letter also contained details and a form for filing an objection. The local newspaper, the Etobicoke Guardian, also carried another general call for “interested parties” to comment on the application. In a call to your office, we were also told that, because this was a waterfront matter, there needed to be wider notice given for the offering of comments and/or objections than just to the actual adjacent landowners.
- There are big and still unanswered questions about the unregistered waterfront part of the property that the applicant is claiming. One of the questions addresses the fact that the land is zoned open space/parkland and, to date, no one has given the community a reasonable explanation as to why on City of Toronto zoning maps it looks like an extension of the adjoining park - Prince of Wales Park. Is this a matter of a property developer acquiring what looks like public realm land? Another question asks why did the municipality assign a G zone to the unregistered parcel in the first place? G zoning is never on private property. Was it because it was originally set aside for future parkland after the municipality did lakefill and shoreline protection following storm damage? Granting the applicant ownership also would violate City and Provincial policies about opening up the Lake Ontario waterfront to the public.
All nine of the objectors felt strongly that, as community members who have closely followed matters regarding this property for over four years and very much interested in the protection of the public interest on the South Etobicoke waterfront, we had the right and reasonable grounds to make an objection.
We expected that the applicant’s counsel would make a diligent and honest attempt to explain things and resolve the issues with us and give us some answers – just as you described in your letter to me. Failing a successful outcome with that, we anticipated that a hearing might be required to give a fuller and more public airing to the matter – again, a process just as you detailed in your letter.
Instead, each one of us, without any effort made at resolution on the applicant’s part, was served with a million dollar lawsuit. (I believe this type of action by developers is commonly called a SLAPP - Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation - and that there is actually a move at this time to make them illegal in Ontario).
Eight of the objectors, in the face of such intimidation and under duress, withdrew their objections. One decided to carry on and defend himself at the Supreme Court of Justice, an endeavour that he is finding both costly and stressful.
Needless to say, the applicant’s heavy-handed response has also had a chilling effect on the community’s expectation of voice, fairness and due process in civic engagement.
The community and I would appreciate your comments on this matter, particularly with regard to the applicant’s legal action. Is what he has done considered part of the normal process? Do we really have a situation here where money may end up trumping the public’s only opportunity to grapple with this large, precedent-setting, issue, one that could influence forever the development of the South Etobicoke waterfront? Has silencing sincere inquiry now become a legitimate part of what we assumed was a fair, public, participatory process?
I look forward to your reply.
Cc Laurel Broten, MPP Etobicoke-Lakeshore