Friday March 31, 9 am to 7 pm is your ONLY chance to save Old Hampstead

This Friday at least 306 residents must come out and sign the Register at the Hampstead Community Centre 30 Lyncroft between 9 am and 7 pm. Otherwise, the by-law will pass with no further council votes and Old Hampstead will be changed forever.

If you live in Zone RA-1 (Old Hampstead), you will begin to see more and more demolitions with new homes being allowed up to three times as large as the current homes. For extensions to existing homes, the new structure would be double or 2.5 times the current size. The homes beside you would have massive walls blocking your views and sunlight. The home behind you will come much closer to your backyard. Countless mature trees will be destroyed.

Some examples from the Pare report

The council hired a consultant to tell them what to expect if they increased the FSI from .52 to .80. The two illustrations below are not the ones with the largest increases but typical examples.

One of the smaller increases

Even though this example is for a type of lot where the increases will be the smallest, note how close the rear of the new house is to the backyard neighbor. This typical example is much larger than the home on the right with the blue roof. Both neighbors will have a dramatic reduction of sunlight.

A more typical example

This illustration from the Pare report provides a visual of just how much bigger some houses will be and it is still not a full tripling as will be the case on some lots. In this example, the FSI is .66, still not a full .80.

On many blocks, there will be two or three new constructions lasting 3 or more years with traffic congestion, no parking spaces for your visitors, incessant noise, and dust everywhere. The vibrations from the pile drivers may damage your foundation.

Hampstead has the second highest house values after Westmount because we also have numerous charming older homes. This is why buyers pay a premium to live here. Once that charm is gone our house values will drop to less than that of neighboring towns which have far more facilities. This has to concern even those of you who live in the newer parts of Hampstead.

If the Hampstead council thinks what they are doing is good for the town, why have they taken such efforts to hide this by-law change and to make it so difficult for residents to have their say?

No transparency

First, there was no publicity at all about the by-law change. Second, originally, they said house sizes would not increase, that the change would only affect what was inside the house. Now that the consultant has shown that the houses will double or triple in size, they no longer deny that houses will get much larger. Third, at the meeting earlier this month where they passed the by-law triggering the Register process, the video coverage had no sound due to “technical difficulties.” No other meeting had such a problem! Fourth, they did not publicize that the by-law passed. Fifth, they published the legally required notice but did not a mention it in their weekly e-newsletter. Now, right before Passover as people are cleaning and getting ready for Seders, they hold the Register! A mere 5 days notice and no publicity other that the legally required notice was given.

They could have easily waited till after Passover when more snowbirds will have returned but this council does not care about you. All they care about is “winning” for reasons known only to themselves. Do they want their friends to be able to build monster homes? I do not know and they won’t say.

US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, “Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant.” Well, I have been shining a light on this issue for almost a year now but it is not enough. Less well known is that Brandeis also said that to have good, honest governance “the people must be sufficiently interested to desire it.”

We get the politicians that we deserve. If you do not come out March 31 between 9 am and 7 pm and sign the Register, Old Hampstead will be destroyed and you will have no one other than yourself to blame.

Who is NOT eligible to sign the Register

If you live on CSL Road, Dufferin, MacDonald, Harrow, Harrow Crescent, Queen Mary between Stratford and MacDonald, Cleve from Finchley to path between Aldred and Harland Place, Holtham Place and the west side of Holtham from Glenmore to Holtham Place, you are not in the right zones and cannot sign.

EVERYONE ELSE is eligible to sign the Register if you bring photo ID such as a Driver’s license or Medicare card on Friday March 31 between 9 am and 7 pm at the Community Centre.

Please put the date and time in your agenda/calendar. Forward this e-mail to everyone that you know in Hampstead. Call your friends and neighbors and urge them to take a few minutes to sign the Register on Friday and ask them to call their friends and neighbors.

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Picture of Dr. Bill Steinberg

Dr. Bill Steinberg

Dr. Steinberg has a BSc from McGill University, a PhD in Psychology from Northwestern University, and was a professor at Concordia University. He was Mayor of the Town of Hampstead for 16 years and led the demerger battle. He was was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and is currently President of the Cochlear Implant Recipients Association.

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