Theberge Homes ‘satisfied’ by committee decision on Baseline highrises, owner says

Developer Joey Theberge has filed a proposal to build three highrises at the site of site of the Fisher Heights Plaza strip mall, just south of the Central Experimental Farm. Baseline
Developer Joey Theberge has filed a proposal to build three highrises at the site of site of the Fisher Heights Plaza strip mall, just south of the Central Experimental Farm.

As city councillors continue to deliberate over highrise development near the Central Experimental Farm, a developer aiming to build three residential towers just south of the facility says he remains cautiously optimistic about the future of his project.

The proposal filed by Joey Theberge, owner of Theberge Homes, involves plans for two 24-storey highrises and a 32-storey tower at 780 Baseline Rd. 

However, the plan has triggered debate due to the site’s proximity to the Central Experimental Farm.

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City staff is recommending approval of just one 24-storey tower amid concerns that the other highrises will cast shadows over the neighbouring agricultural research facility, interfering with crop studies and research fields. 

The debates have led councillors to question whether there should be “blanket policies” surrounding development near the Experimental Farm.

At a meeting on Wednesday, members of the city’s planning and housing committee approved the first tower and gave staff a January timeline to return with a recommendation for the entire site.

However, Theberge said he will not go ahead with the project unless all three towers are approved. On Friday, he told OBJ he was “surprised” by objections to the plan, but he added that the approval of the first phase is a good start and he remains hopeful that the other towers will also be approved.

“We got an outcome that was most favourable with everything that’s transpired, and I’m optimistic that all parties will be able to come to an agreement,” Theberge said. “We were disappointed that it came to this, that we had a separation of the three phases, but in light of that being the case, this is the best-case scenario.”

When he first filed the proposal, Theberge told OBJ he doesn’t agree with councillors who want clearer policies and restrictions around the experimental farm to prevent similar conflicts over future developments. 

“There were comments that they should be looking for a blanket policy around the farm,” he said. “I don’t agree with that. I think they’re site-specific locations. There are specific locations that are suitable for high-density, mid-density, and low-rise (projects) all across the city. If we just blanket anything around the farm, we’re going to lose a lot of opportunities.”

His property’s location on the corner of Baseline and Fisher Avenues is well suited to high-density development due to its location on the corner of two major roads, Theberge said. 

“If you look around the farm, there’s probably only a few locations where high density can occur,” he said. “You’re not going to get high density where it’s all low-rise housing. My site is one of only a few areas that can get high density.”

He added that because each site is unique, it’s impossible to apply a blanket height limit to all properties near the farm.

“You can’t put up towers everywhere and block everything, but there are certain locations where it’s suitable,” he said. 

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