Residents question process after Taoist temple approval
A resident organization is raising questions after a recent Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing ordered the approval of a place of worship in a converted residential home at 378 Steeles Ave. E.
A spokesperson for the Bayview Glen Residents Association, Toinette Bezant, said she feels the application should never have gotten to the OMB or even to earlier town council meetings. She cited a clerical error in the temple’s parking demands that went unnoticed until the last stage of its zoning process.
“The town incorrectly applied the Ontario Building Act calculation, which determined occupancy of the building,” she said.
According to the incorrect formula, the Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism’s application met town standards for parking at earlier stages. However, at the OMB, an expert witness corrected the mistake, revealing the temple had a massive parking shortfall all along.
On such a small property, “it would have been physically impossible” to make more space, said Bezant. The temple applicant had already raised part of the home on cantilevered stilts to maximize parking, she added.
In an unexpected move, the temple’s legal counsel embraced the miscalculation, leading Adam Brown, a solicitor for the temple, to propose capping the shrine’s occupancy at 120 people. Using that occupancy maximum, the OMB said the temple had ample parking under town bylaws. Fung Loy Kok does not realistically expect more than 20 to 30 visitors at a time, Brown said.
“We didn’t fight it. We took the general standard the city had, corrected it and agreed,” said Brown. “I think what the residents couldn’t believe is we could provide the parking — and then some.”
“I think our clients responded to every single thing throughout the extended two-plus-year process,” he added.
The OMB ordered the approval of the application June 26. Ward 1 councillor Valerie Burke said she has contacted the applicant about a potential community meeting to clear up remaining questions in September.