Isabella block tests tower separation rule Separation does not limit height

Robin Careless –

25 metres. That’s currently the recommended separation between tall towers in Toronto. And city planners like this rule so much that they want to amend the official plan to make it law, at least for one block Downtown.

“The proposed 25 metre tower separation is a well-established guideline in the City of Toronto for tall buildings to protect for sunlight and sky views, and avoid a wall effect along city streets,” says Mark Chlon. He is the city’s senior planner for community planning of the Downtown section of Toronto and East York. “The proposed OPA (official plan amendment) is important because we feel that 25 metre building separation is good planning,” Chlon says.

The proposed OPA is aimed at the city block bounded by Isabella St. and Gloucester Str. (north and south), and Gloucester Lane and Yonge St. (east and west). This block’s site-specific plan allows for no more than two towers with a minimum of 25 meters separation between them. That decision meets the current city guideline, but planners would feel more comfortable having the guideline strengthened to regulation status. “In this location it is appropriate to put this into statutory planning documents, instead of leaving it as a guideline,” Chlon says.

During a community planning meeting held on April 9, attendees expressed concern about the “guideline into rule” upgrade. Specifically, they feared that the upgrade would limit landowners’ development options on the site, upon which one tower has already been approved.

Chlon dismisses these concerns. “This proposed OPA does not prevent any landowner from submitting an application for a tall building on this block, provided that it maintains a 25 metre tower separation to the face of the approved 34-storey tower at the south end of the block at Gloucester St.,” he says. “I also want to mention that the proposed amendment is part of a full public process.”

The next stage of the process occurs on May 13 at a statutory public meeting into the rule change. Should the 25 metre separation become a rule at the end of the process, “any concerned landowners will have the opportunity to appeal any adopted OPAs to the OMB,” confirms Chlon.