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  #1  
Old Posted Aug 13, 2013, 4:59 PM
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Design Review Panel

That staff be directed to establish a Design Review Panel, for a two year Pilot Program commencing on January 1, 2014

http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/...3_PED13137.pdf
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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 13, 2013, 6:50 PM
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Approved, off to council for final vote.
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  #3  
Old Posted Aug 14, 2013, 3:19 PM
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Just wonderful. More red tape for developers downtown.

It's not like reputable developers are knocking down the doors to build in the downtown and now we are going to have a watchdog group telling them what their buildings can look like. This is a recipe for disaster that will only stall the redevelopment of the downtown.
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  #4  
Old Posted Aug 14, 2013, 7:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigguy1231 View Post
Just wonderful. More red tape for developers downtown.

It's not like reputable developers are knocking down the doors to build in the downtown and now we are going to have a watchdog group telling them what their buildings can look like. This is a recipe for disaster that will only stall the redevelopment of the downtown.
The panel's opinions are non-binding - there is no tape. Note that the word "advice" is peppered throughout the report.

Basically they will be an expert advisory panel to assist with the development proposal review/approval process, not another layer of approvals. Their input will go to staff and council, who will still make the decisions.

From p.4 of the report:
The Planning Act governs the land use planning system in Ontario, which includes the process and authority in which development is approved. The Planning Act grants authority to the Minister or the delegated Council of a municipality to make decisions on Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment applications, while authority for Site Plan applications is granted to the Minister, delegated Council, or an appointed Officer. Accordingly, in Ontario, DRPs do not have any authority respecting decisions for development applications; instead, they provide valuable technical review information and advice intended to inform staff and decision makers.

Is it a bad thing to have additional expertise to provide input to staff and council on development proposals, to make sure those proposals meet the city's urban design guidelines and objectives, and fit the character of the areas in which they're located? As it stands now, there is unlikely to be much expertise among the people approving these developments.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2013, 6:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ScreamingViking View Post
The panel's opinions are non-binding - there is no tape. Note that the word "advice" is peppered throughout the report.

Basically they will be an expert advisory panel to assist with the development proposal review/approval process, not another layer of approvals. Their input will go to staff and council, who will still make the decisions.

From p.4 of the report:
The Planning Act governs the land use planning system in Ontario, which includes the process and authority in which development is approved. The Planning Act grants authority to the Minister or the delegated Council of a municipality to make decisions on Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment applications, while authority for Site Plan applications is granted to the Minister, delegated Council, or an appointed Officer. Accordingly, in Ontario, DRPs do not have any authority respecting decisions for development applications; instead, they provide valuable technical review information and advice intended to inform staff and decision makers.

Is it a bad thing to have additional expertise to provide input to staff and council on development proposals, to make sure those proposals meet the city's urban design guidelines and objectives, and fit the character of the areas in which they're located? As it stands now, there is unlikely to be much expertise among the people approving these developments.
I think the people building these developments and their architects can figure out what they are doing without the interference of a group of know it alls. Tax dollars that will be used to support this group could be better spent elsewhere.
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  #6  
Old Posted Aug 15, 2013, 8:24 PM
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Originally Posted by bigguy1231 View Post
I think the people building these developments and their architects can figure out what they are doing without the interference of a group of know it alls. Tax dollars that will be used to support this group could be better spent elsewhere.
Those that can have little to worry about then.

For those that can't, perhaps the DRP will help prevent things like a suburban-style bank from being built on one of our busiest downtown corners, or a stereotypical plaza on a street lined with heritage buildings, or nondescript one-storey infill along a 3-4 storey streetwall. In my opinion that would be tax dollars well spent.
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  #7  
Old Posted Aug 15, 2013, 9:24 PM
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I'm all for less red tape, but I'd rather cut it from the Zoning By-law (dating to what, 1955?) and give the Design Review Panel some teeth.

Zoning is inflexible and not subject to interpretation. Variances can cost hundreds of thousands. It does as much to prevent good development as it does to allow bad development.

If I was developing something I would rather deal with intelligent and informed people capable of reasoning and compromise, than a bylaw department charged with enforcing outdated rules no matter how asinine the context.
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  #8  
Old Posted Aug 15, 2013, 10:35 PM
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Put me down for a great big thumbs up for the DRP!
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  #9  
Old Posted Aug 16, 2013, 6:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigguy1231 View Post
Just wonderful. More red tape for developers downtown.

It's not like reputable developers are knocking down the doors to build in the downtown and now we are going to have a watchdog group telling them what their buildings can look like. This is a recipe for disaster that will only stall the redevelopment of the downtown.
I'd rather have development stalled than be stuck with a bunch of shitty-ass suburban style developments downtown. Because right now you can get away with that. They demand better in most cities.
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  #10  
Old Posted Aug 17, 2013, 7:44 PM
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The idea of a design review panel is good in principle, but their effectiveness in improving architectural design is questionable at best. Advisory panels give a voice to those who feel they should have influence, but really have little impact on what developers are willing to do. I am of the opinion that the development should be encouraged and expedited. Rather than an advisory panel evaluating designs and/or giving their stamp of approval, the city should make resources available to work collaboratively with developers as projects are being designed.
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  #11  
Old Posted Aug 18, 2013, 12:29 AM
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Originally Posted by markbarbera View Post
'...the city should make resources available to work collaboratively with developers as projects are being designed.'
I haven't researched this topic in any way, but I'm going to assume that these elements will be a part of the process - they are in other cities, at least.
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  #12  
Old Posted Aug 18, 2013, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by markbarbera View Post
I am of the opinion that the development should be encouraged and expedited.
Even shitty development?

I'm with flar on this one. The point is to encourage good development for our community.



Quote:
Rather than an advisory panel evaluating designs and/or giving their stamp of approval, the city should make resources available to work collaboratively with developers as projects are being designed.
Ids that how it's going to work?

Or might the DRP provide guidelines ahead of time.
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  #13  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2013, 4:15 PM
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The key is how DRP is mandated to conduct itself. My point was that it needs to be a collaborative force, not judicial. We have just recently managed to see serious development return to the city, we don't want to bulk up the bureaucratic process and put unnecessary roadblocks up at this juncture.

What is held as good development is entirely subjective. From my observations, all current developments under construction look to be what I consider good developments, particularly in the downtown area.
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  #14  
Old Posted Aug 22, 2013, 1:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markbarbera View Post
The key is how DRP is mandated to conduct itself. My point was that it needs to be a collaborative force, not judicial. We have just recently managed to see serious development return to the city, we don't want to bulk up the bureaucratic process and put unnecessary roadblocks up at this juncture.

What is held as good development is entirely subjective. From my observations, all current developments under construction look to be what I consider good developments, particularly in the downtown area.
I agree. Collaboration is the key, and not just in how the DRP works with city staff and council. If they can be cooperative and not adversarial with the developer community that will go a long way toward adding value.

I would hope it's one of the things that the pilot will explore.
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  #15  
Old Posted Aug 23, 2013, 2:33 AM
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I'm with Big guy here. Another bureaucratic hurdle that has no legislative basis, which will take up more time, which will cause more confusion about whether the city followed the right Planning Act processes, which will result in more OMB appeals. Already the city gives planning staff this raft of powers that were never intended in the Planning Act; vast site plan controls and downzoning and s.37 agreements; all so they can 'negotiate' their way with developers to reach a point that the market could have reached more quickly and efficiently. We don't need planners to delay development for 4 months so they can wring out some money for water fountains or ensure that the neighbour's rose gardens get morning sun. All they end up doing is making requirements that the developers then change via variances and bonuses.

This is just another make work project for another two $80,000 a year placeholders.
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  #16  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2013, 12:20 AM
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Cities all over this country and the world use design review panels: Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, London (UK), Sydney, Melbourne and the list goes on. Let's not be so cynical.
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  #17  
Old Posted May 9, 2014, 11:31 PM
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Meet the DRP...

The battle to banish bad buildings from Hamilton
http://www.thespec.com/news-story/45...from-hamilton/

By Meredith MacLeod

Nine professionals who have volunteered to review key downtown and waterfront developments will begin with a couple of contentious projects.

The city's first design review panel (DRP) includes experienced architects, landscape architects, planners and urban designers. Five members work in Hamilton and four are based elsewhere. Three of them sit on design review panels in other cities.

"This is an excellent panel. We had a lot of high-quality people apply. The city is lucky to have such people volunteering their time," said Steve Robichaud, director of planning.

Robichaud said many of the close to 100 applicants talked about a "buzz" around opportunities in Hamilton and wanting to help shape the city's future as their reasons for volunteering.

The panel will offer planning advice directly to city staff. Applicants seeking rezonings and site plan approvals will be required to submit their plans and make presentations to the DRP.

Among the first projects expected to come under the panel's gaze is the controversial redevelopment of buildings facing Gore Park and a proposed condo development at James Street Baptist Church.

James Street Baptist owner Louie Santaguida says he was told about the DRP last week. He has dealt with a similar process in Toronto and says he's hopeful the panel's review won't delay the overall approval process.

"We truly respect the City of Hamilton decision to put this in the process," Santaguida said. "I'm not sure how it will impact my development or developments at large but I don't see any harm in it. It will have an advisory role in urban planning."

Santaguida has approvals to remove at least 75 per cent of the church and plans to tie the historically designated tower and east facing entrance into a new condo tower. He says he will have detailed plans to show staff in a matter of weeks.

Nothing the panel advises is binding on a developer. But David Premi says volunteer experts will expect to play an active role. Premi is a Hamilton architect and panel member who advocated for professional design review. Seven members of Ottawa's DRP resigned en masse in 2009, saying their advice was ignored.

"The panel must be respected. They are professionals offering their expert advice. That's invaluable to developers and the city."

Hamilton's panel has been established under a two-year pilot. Though the focus is on the lower city, the director of planning can also refer a project from anywhere for review. The scope includes buildings of more than three storeys and 20,000 square feet, along with streets, parks and open spaces.

"I think it's one of the many positive things happening in the city right now. It will be very helpful," said Premi.

There are a lot of substantial projects queued up for the next few years, he said, so the panel will have an important role to play.

"We were in economic decline for decades so that fosters a kind of desperation: 'Please build anything and we won't get in your way.' We can't think like that anymore. You make a mistake with a major building in the downtown and you live with it for 50 years and more."

The DRP will not focus on esthetics or architectural style, says Premi, but rather whether the proposal fits its environment, adheres to city planning guidelines, promotes walkability and enhances the city's urban fabric.

The panel has had an orientation session with senior planning staff and a tour of the city. The next meeting is May 22. Presentations and recommendations will be open to the public, though deliberations will be held privately.

Robert Freedman, the former director of urban design for the City of Toronto who led the establishment of that city's DRP, says developers were initially wary. Some architects weren't thrilled to open their work to critiques by peers either.

But as bugs in the process were worked out, the DRP came to be mostly respected, he said. In many cases it sped up projects because developers offered their best right away.

"Cities and regions compete to attract people and businesses. Those that succeed the most are those who create a true sense of place. Hamilton has great bones," said Freedman, now an urban consultant and a member of Hamilton's new panel. "There's a great structure and history to Hamilton."

Western University geography professor Jason Gilliland served on the steering committee to set up a DRP in London, Ont. He says the panel review has delayed some projects but a focus on walkability, quality of public realm, heritage and place-making has led to better developments overall.

To be effective, he says, the panel's mandate and scope must be crystal clear and the process must remain non-adversarial.

"It's valuable if it doesn't stall valuable projects," said Gilliland, a Hamilton native who heads up WU's urban development program. "Developers know their business. They're not in it to make bad buildings. They realize they will make more money if they make good buildings."

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Hamilton's design review panel

Vincent Colizza, architect, Ottawa

Robert Freedman, Freedman Urban Solutions, Toronto

Mary Jo Hind, architect, Perkins + Will, Dundas

Sandy McIntosh, architect, Perkins + Will, Dundas

David Premi, architect, David Premi Architects, Hamilton

Yasin Visram, architect, Farrow Partnership Architects, Toronto

James Webb, planner, Webb Planning Consultants, Hamilton

Richard Witt, architect, Quadrangle Architects, Toronto

Mario Patitucci, landscape architect, Adesso Design, Hamilton
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  #18  
Old Posted May 10, 2014, 12:30 AM
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^A landscape architect?
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  #19  
Old Posted May 10, 2014, 5:18 AM
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Including a landscape architect is appropriate:
"The scope includes buildings of more than three storeys and 20,000 square feet, along with streets, parks and open spaces."

Santaguida's redevelopment will be an interesting first test-case. I'm not sure why the Gore Park buildings were noted though, since there's no inkling of when we may see a plan for them... unless the city or The Spec is aware that something is being brewed to serve soon.
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  #20  
Old Posted May 10, 2014, 7:16 AM
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When I hear landscape architect all I can think of is nature band aids.
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