Province’s Final Say on Toronto’s Employment Lands

On July 9th, the Province issued its Notice of Decision respecting the City of Toronto’s Official  Plan Amendment No. 231 (OPA 231). OPA 231 deals with the conversion of Employment Lands and the  introduction of new economic health and employment policies considered through the City’s Municipal  Comprehensive Review. The Province approved the majority of OPA 231 but withheld its decision on  the portion applying to the Lower Don Lands. The last day to appeal this decision is July 29, 2014.

Local Appeal Body for Toronto

While calls for reform of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) continue throughout the Province, the  City of Toronto has made the first step in removing itself from the OMB’s jurisdiction. Toronto’s  consideration of establishing a Local Appeal Body (LAB) dates back to 2004 and  at  its  recent   July  meeting,  Council  approved  the  establishment  of  a  LAB to hear appeals  of  minor   variances  and  consent  applications  made  after  September 1, 2015. Toronto’s authority to  establish a LAB comes from Section 115 of  the  City  of Toronto  Act,  2006.

Following Council’s decision, the City will also be making a formal request to the Province to  amend the Planning Act, the Heritage Act and the City of Toronto Act to further abolish the OMB’s  jurisdiction over Toronto including its Zoning By-law Amendments, Official Plan Amendments, Site  Plan, Subdivision and Condominium Plan Approvals, and Community Improvement Plans and appeals under  the Heritage Act.

Council has directed staff to consider the governance and administration of the LAB and report back  in early 2015 on the number of members required, their remuneration and a proposed  fee  structure.

For more information on how the LAB may affect your appeals and for status updates on its   establishment,  please  visit  www.toronto.ca.

A Green Light for Toronto’s Development Permit System

In our December newsletter we highlighted the City of Toronto’s proposed Development Permit System  (DPS). At the time planning staff had drafted an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) to enable the  enactment of a Development Permit By-law. At the July City Council meeting, that enabling OPA was  approved.

What is it?

The DPS combines the current zoning, site plan and minor variance processes into one application   and  approval  process.  The  DPS  is  a  comprehensive,  area-based  planning exercise that will result in new development standards and performance criteria. These will be 

tailored to a specific area of the City and solidified through a new by-law (a Development Permit By-law). These by-laws  will replace the Zoning By-law, as well as the entire regulatory framework through which  development applications were made in that specific area of the City.

Preparing the Development Permit By-law will involve area-wide studies and community consultation  to establish the appropriate massing and height of buildings, parks and open space requirements,  and transportation, transit and hard infrastructure needs. Once  a plan for an area  has been  established, it will  be implemented  through a Development  Permit  By-law.

A Development Permit By-law will include the following:

  • minimum and maximum standards and permissible uses (much like a zoning by-law);
  • criteria for evaluating, testing or assessing development proposals (i.e. test of  compatibility with surrounding buildings,  open  spaces  and  uses);
  • conditions of approval; and
  • formula for the provision of community benefits (replacing Section 37 agreements).

A development application cannot go beyond what is provided in the Development Permit By-law  (i.e.   it  cannot propose greater height or density as rezoning or minor variance applications would  today). A development application will be reviewed for compliance with the by-law (similar to a  Site Plan application). If it is compliant, a development permit can be issued by City Staff or an  appointed committee. The DPS removes  the  need  for technical studies (i.e. planning justification  reports, traffic or parking studies, etc.) and community consultation to assess the appropriateness  of the development application since the long-term planning studies and community consultation that  were conducted to initially create the Development Permit By-law are deemed satisfactory.

Appeals

Under the DPS, public participation is focused at the front-end of the process when the long-term  comprehensive planning is taking place and the Development Permit By-law is first being  established. Anyone can appeal the implementation of a Development Permit  By-law.  However,  once   the  By-law  is  in  force,  only  an  applicant  has the right of appeal to the OMB on a  development permit application. In other words, third party appeals from development permit  application decisions are not  permitted.  This  is  similar  to  the  existing  appeal  structure   for Site  Plan  applications.

The appeal rights of the applicant are also limited under the DPS. Similar to appeals of a Site  Plan, an applicant is allowed to appeal the conditions imposed on the development permit.  Conditions can include the provision of community benefits (i.e. public art, streetscape  improvements), sustainable design features, tree protection, etc. However, should an application  wish to change other standards of the Development Permit By-law (ie. use, height, density) on a  site-specific basis, the applicant must provide a planning justification that considers the entire  development area. Such an appeal would have to be supported by technical reports, public  consultation and evidence that the area has changed since enactment of the Development Permit  By-law.

Next Steps

The recently approved OPA identifies the entire City of Toronto as a development permit area, thus  enabling the enactment of a Development Permit By-law in any area of the City. However, the OPA  also requires that a Development Permit By-law only be prepared for areas selected by Council, as  informed by community consultation. There are eight (8) areas identified for initial consideration.  (See maps on the following pages.)

If you have land holdings or other interests in any of the following areas, we strongly recommend  that you participate in the upcoming community consultation. Notice of community consultations will  likely be delivered by mail to all addresses in the area of consideration and posted online at www.toronto.ca.

Click here to view the images.