'No one is happy' but councillors still back development plan around Victoria Park

A plan to regulate the height and density of new buildings around London’s Victoria Park, found rare consensus among developers and neighbours — both sides are unsatisfied.

On Monday, the Planning and Environment Committee (PEC) heard from stakeholders who called for the latest version of the Victoria Park Secondary Plan to be sent back to city staff for more consultation and revision.

Mary Ann Hodge of the Friends of Victoria Park said after three years of feeling unheard, many frustrated neighbours have walked away from the process.

“No matter what the plan says, developments are decided upon by council on a case by case basis,” said Hodge.

Letters from developers and property owners around the park also called for changes to the plan.

“Somehow I’m sitting here feeling very disappointed. No one is happy,” said Coun. Anna Hopkins who chairs the committee.

“This is the third or fourth kick at the can for the Victoria Park Secondary Plan, and it seems to have a challenge satisfying anyone,” added Coun. Stephen Turner.

The secondary plan would regulate development on properties around the perimeter of the urban greenspace.

It calls for the tallest buildings, up to 35 storeys, to be on Dufferin Avenue.

Maximum heights gradually step downward towards the Victorian-era houses on Central Avenue.

The plan is moot regarding the property at 560-562 Wellington Street where rezoning for a high-rise is being appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

The secondary plan also sets a target that 25 per cent of new residential units built around the park be affordable housing.

The planning committee acknowledged the dissatisfaction of stakeholders, but unanimously recommended the secondary plan’s approval.

“I think it’s where we need to get to,” said Coun. Steve Lehman. “I don’t think delaying it will bring us any further.”

“This will bring people into our downtown core who choose to call it home,” added Coun. John Fyfe-Millar.

“The answer that we got from councillors today is that this is the best that we can hope for,” said Hodge following the meeting.

She maintains the secondary plan fails to satisfy the community’s need for more affordable housing, and to preserve the park as a public space.

“I do not think this is London at its finest.”

Council will make a final decision May 24.