Unanimous Planning Committee support for my Somerset House motion

Today at Planning Committee, I presented a motion (moved by Committee member Councillor Jeff Leiper on my behalf) to pressure the owner of Somerset House by deferring his application to develop a property on Catherine St until, "there is proof this property owner can be a responsible downtown property owner and commit to deliverable plans to rehabilitate the Somerset House site"

The motion was adopted unanimously by members of the committee and will be considered at the next regular Council meeting.

Here's my motion:

Moved by / Motion de: Councillor J. Leiper on behalf of Councillor C. McKenney

WHEREAS the owner of 129 &133 Catherine also owns 352 Somerset, also known
as Somerset House at the southeast corner of Somerset and Bank, an individually
designated building under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act;

WHEREAS the eastern portion of 352 Somerset partially collapsed in October

WHEREAS Council permitted the subsequent demolition of the eastern portion of
the building in July 2016 as it posed a danger to the public;

WHEREAS the building has been in a state of disrepair since;

WHEREAS in May 2017, Council approved a rehabilitation plan for the building
and the issuance of a heritage permit with a 2-year expiry, which the property
owner allowed to expire without undertaking any significant work on the building;

WHEREAS no significant improvements to the property have been made by the
property owner since the partial demolition of the building;

WHEREAS the property owner has presented numerous proposals for 352
Somerset over the years, extensively meeting with Planning and Heritage staff,
and failed to make any positive progress shows that he has no intention to
redevelop the site;

WHEREAS this property owner also operates a surface parking lot at 154
O’Connor in contravention of the Zoning By-law for which temporary 3-year
permission lapsed in 2018 and a reapplication has not been sought;

WHEREAS a commercial parking lot has been established at 138 Gloucester, just
west of the 154 O’Connor site, also in contravention of the Zoning By-law;

WHEREAS, given the history of neglect, apathy, and disregard for City by-laws
and policies, there is no way of knowing this property owner will follow through
and build at the Catherine site;

BE RESOLVED that Planning Committee defer the report “Zoning By-law
Amendment – 129 and 133 Catherine Street” (File No. ACS2021-PIE-PS-0041) until
there is proof this property owner can be a responsible downtown property owner
and commit to deliverable plans to rehabilitate the Somerset House site; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that there be no further notice pursuant
to Subsection 34 (17) of the Planning Act.

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