They recently bought Greenbelt land that was undevelopable. Now the Ford government is poised to remove protections — and these developers stand to profit.
On a recent Sunday morning at Greenbelt Square, there is a quiet hum as people walk by, waiting for the subway to arrive. The noise cuts off whenever a bus arrives.
While it’s quiet here, it’s not as quiet as it could be. The area is slated for development, and there are plans to build an office building and homes.
It’s the future of Greenbelt, and the future of Victoria.
Back when the land was undevelopable, the city asked developer Jason Brown to build homes and businesses, including a gas station and coffee shop.
Before Brown could build his first home, he needed city approval, and the land needed to be designated as a green space.
The city was considering adding more than 100 homes in Greenbelt, but only wanted about 20. The green space, about 2 hectares (5.6 acres), was part of the area so there was no other land in the city designated for development.
It’s not clear if the green space was given by the city or if it was purchased by the developer. In either case, the green space is currently owned by a company called Realty Capital, whose name is on the lease.
A few months ago, Realty Capital’s managing partner, Mike Smith, said, “We are building a $60-million-a-year business in Victoria — and we are doing it in the middle of nowhere.”
Now Realty Capital is in the process of buying the land and building its business without the protections that Victoria is supposed to have.
The city has approved six developments on the property — three residential, one mixed-use and two commercial — since it started planning in the 1980s.
But a draft of a draft policy to be presented to the city’s planning committee later this month would remove those protections because the developer would be allowed to bypass the city by getting a building permit.
“Any business that would build a development in the Greenbelt is not eligible for those protections,” says Adam Carter, the city’s assistant planner.
A few weeks ago, when Brown was approached by Realty Capital, he