The tallest building in Richmond Hill approved by OMB

29-storey building to be built at Yonge and 16th despite objections


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Karen Cilevitz at the site of what will become the tallest building in Richmond Hill

In March of this year, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) approved the tallest building in Richmond Hill’s history. The building, at 9218 Yonge St., in the Yonge and 16th Avenue Key Development Area, will be 29 storeys high, much higher than the town official planning policy 20-storey limit parameters. However, this approval did not pass without a fight from councillors and staff planners with the Town of Richmond Hill. 

According to Kelvin Kwan, acting commissioner for Town of Richmond Hill Planning and Regulatory Services, the town councillors filed a review requesting that the OMB reexamine its decision because the town did not agree with the way the board reached its decision. 

“We didn’t think the board made a proper ruling in the context of how we felt the various cases were presented and the rationale behind the board’s decision,” said Kwan. He explained that, typically, the board will try to arrange for mediation prior to a hearing. In this case, that didn’t happen. 

After town council rejected the initial proposal, the applicant took the matter to the OMB, which approved the building. 

Ward 5 councillor Karen Cilevitz said council initially rejected the application because it went against the town’s official plan, and it had received negative feedback from the community. Both residents and local councillors are concerned about increased traffic and lack of proper transit infrastructure to accommodate the influx of new residents. 

“This is an already overburdened intersection,” said Cilevitz. “We don’t have the infrastructure in place now in order to service what it means to bring in these extra people.”

However, the OMB’s decision states it isn’t convinced the height of the building will negatively impact the intersection. 

“The proposed building has been designed to present a slender profile on the skyline and it will not be out of character with the tall buildings which are in existence or authorized in the immediate vicinity,” the decision reads. 

Cilevitz said one of her priorities as a councillor has been to lobby for the reform of the board, and now, because of her efforts with the OMB Reform Group, the province is beginning its second reading of a new act to give more control back to municipalities. 

She has urged the province to pass the act by the end of the fall season, adding, “This is all about bringing democracy back to where it belongs.”

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