New - The Villager Article, April 29, 2010 by Lisa Rainford

Home owner allowed to demolish Baby Point home

Toronto City Council granted a Baby Point Road homeowner permission to acquire a building permit and begin the demolition of his 1920s Arts and Crafts cottage, much to the chagrin of his neighbours.

Property owner Lorne Bozinoff plans to tear down the historic Robert Home Smith-designed oneand-a-half storey house and replace it with a 5,800 square foot (with an attached double-car garage, it's 6,500 square feet), three-storey detached dwelling, a building he says will blend in with others on the Baby Point circle.

Etobicoke York Community Council voted in favour of allowing Bozinoff to go ahead, with his plans for.66 Baby Point Rd., March 9 followed by city council's approval March 31, despite Parkdale-High Park Councillor Bill Saundercook's motion to defer.

"I relented to go to city council and ask for a deferral, which did get rejected," said Saundercook. "It's not an application that city staff was saying, 'It's too big.' Everyone at city council had given approval. The applicant can go ahead, he's eligible for a building permit."

Saundercook said he wanted to work with the owner/applicant and not against him. "I think he is still interested in working with his neighbours," said Saundercook in an interview "He's still adamant to improve his relationship with his neighbours."

David Ceolin, a nearby neighbour of Bozinoff's, said that for generations, the Baby Point Circle has "stood as a testament to fine urban planning and a magnificent vision of homes in synchronicity.. As others often point out, the streetscape, the aperture between homes and relative scale of the grand homes of the circle remain one of the finest examples of urban planning in Canada."

More than 150 people – 90 per cent of the neighbourhood – have registered their opposition against the project, saying its mass and density is greater than twice as large as the homes around it. The adjacent homes average 2,700 square feet. The Bozinoffs' house would be two and a half times larger than the average, said neighbour Robert Galway, who has lived in the area for 40 years.

"I don't understand council's decision when you have a fact like that staring you in the face," he said.

Mary Anne De Monte-Whelan, a Baby Point resident for the past two decades, said most homes in the area have been restored to some extent or another. "Are we against improving homes? No, lots of us have done it, but there is a certain way of respecting the neighbourhood when you do it," she said."I've lived in two Robert Home Smith homes and they were extremely architecturally strong homes. It can be done if there's a desire. There are many, many places you can go if you want a monstrous home. This isn't one of those places, they're not in Baby Point."

The optimal approach to this project would be to restore the present property to its former glory, said Galway, while retaining its architectural authenticity and the integrity of the streetscape. "The architectural foresight of Robert Home Smith, the developer of the Baby Point area, was ahead of his time. "His principles of property layout are deserving of respect and should not give way to architectural largesse as is the-case associated with this application."

Even though the majority of the neighbourhood. opposes the project, dubbed a "McMansion," Saundercook said the "chances at the Ontario Municipal Board were not very favourable to the opposition."

Asked how he is dealing with his neighbours' disapproval of his proposed new home, Bozinoff said, "We're mulling over the comments."

Owners 'well within their rights,' says councillor

After meeting with Bozinoff and his wife on his property and consulting with city hall staff, Saundercook said he learned the Bozinoffs were "well within their rights." "I could have easily said, 'I'm opposed to this,' but I said 'let's not alienate ourselves from the process. Let's find a compromise," said Saundercook.

Galway said council's decision reflected a lack of leadership from the local councillor.

Frustrated to learn their councillor had voted in favour of the development at community council, his constituents pressed Saundercook at a public meeting, March 25, to vote for a deferral at city council at the end of March.

In the end, 18 councillors voted against his request for a 45-day Deferral. At that same meeting, area residents were concerned Bozinoff's house would drive up their property taxes. "I checked with finance staff," said Saundercook. "One house will not trigger an upward cost in taxes."

In response to Saundercook's lack of early involvement, Baby Point residents hired their own representation, lawyer David Bronskill of the firm Goodmans, who pointed out at the March 25 meeting that Bozinoff has shown little willingness to modify his plans or consult with the neighbourhood.

According to Bronskill, as far as the property tax issue is concerned, "property taxes are determined through market assessment often by looking at recent sales and comparative properties. New construction tends to result in increased . market value for the neighbourhood and therefore increased property taxes”

"The neighbourhood hopes that Mr. and Mrs. Bozinoff would finally demonstrate that they want to become good neighbours by scaling back their building plans in the face of 150 of their neighbours expressing opposition over the past year," said Carrie McKean, a six-year resident on Baby Point.

Galway echoed her sentiments. "My hope is still that the owner will listen to the community, who is still trying to communicate with him," he said

After a professional connection came to light between Bozinoff's market research business, Forum Research, and the TTC of which Saundercook is commissioner, the councillor sought advice from the integrity commissioner, who said the information only became known after the entire process had been approved.

Baby Point residents wondered if Saundercook's decision to support the project had anything to do with Forum Research's work for the TTC.

However, Saundercook said he hadn't heard of the connection until April 23rd. "Had I been aware prior to the application, I would have had to explain, but this was clearly not the case," said Saundercook.