The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has stopped the most contentious part of a midtown Toronto townhouse development while approving the rest of a project widely criticized by neighbours as "density creep."
The 80-unit project by Freed Developments proposed two rows of four-storey stacked townhouses on Keewatin Avenue, near Eglinton Avenue East and Mount Pleasant Road.
In 2015, area residents mounted stiff opposition to the project, placing signs in their yards and forming the Density Creep Neighbourhood Alliance.
"It's not a total win," Keewatin Avenue resident Vicki Fecteau said in an interview. "But we're very relieved the north building will not happen."
City planners and the local councillor, Jaye Robinson, were also strongly opposed to the development, which was situated on the north side of Keewatin Avenue, just outside of the Yonge-Eglinton Urban Growth Centre, an area designated for more density by the city.
The proposed site for the development now consists of eight detached homes.
The OMB decision, issued this week, says the proposal "is not appropriate for this site and does not conform to the [Official Plan]."
The decision says the neighbourhood is "overwhelmingly made up of single detached house forms and characterized by extensive greenery."
Still, the board's ruling leaves the door open to townhouse development on the site.
"A single four-storey building facing Keewatin Avenue would represent an appropriately modest intensification that would be compatible with this neighbourhood," the ruling says.
The project's developer, Peter Freed, told CBC Toronto the decision is "surprising" and "unfortunate", but said he respects the ruling.
Freed said the project adds sorely needed low-rise housing in Toronto, which is becoming increasingly unaffordable.
"We felt it was a well-planned proposal."
Freed said he's still reviewing the OMB decision and hasn't decided if or how the project will proceed.
'I guess we'll keep renting'
Esztella Vezer purchased and put a deposit down on one of the townhomes and is now anxiously waiting word from the developer.
"We were very shocked. We did not expect it," Vezer said of the OMB decision.
She was planning to move in by the end of the year with her husband and three-month old daughter, but it's unlikely now. Their unit is part of the north row struck down by the OMB.
"We had planned that we'd stay in the city, have kids and grow in that Yonge and Eglinton area. I guess we'll keep renting." .
Vezer was disappointed by the staunch opposition to the project in the neighbourhood but was confident the OMB would approve it.
"We did feel a bit discriminated against. We're both young professionals. We're family oriented. I think everyone dreams about accessing these types of neighbourhoods other people are lucky enough to live in."