The City of Toronto intends to adopt its new comprehensive zoning by-law currently working its way through the public consultation process before the end of the current session of City Council in August of 2010.

On February 11, 2010, the Planning and Growth Management Committee announced a new timetable for the public consultation process for the new by-law which sets the stage for the adoption of the by-law before residents head to the polls on October 25, 2010, to elect a new mayor and members of City Council. On May 27, 2010, the City will hold its Open House for the by-law, as required by the Planning Act, at which time members of the public will have the opportunity to review the by-law and ask questions of Planning Division Staff. The Open House will be followed by a statutory Public Meeting on June 16, 2010, during the regularly scheduled meeting of the Planning and Growth Management Committee (the “Committee”) at which time members of the public will have the opportunity to make representations on the by-law to the Committee.

In light of the revised public consultation schedule, the window for Council to adopt the by-law before the municipal election this fall will close on August 26th which gives Council two opportunities – during its July 6th / July 7th meeting and during its August 25th / August 26th meeting– to debate and possibly adopt the by-law. Council will have Planning Act-related incentives to either adopt the by-law or put the matter to rest with a refusal of the Bill by the end of 2010, as the City is required to begin its scheduled five-year review of its Official Plan during 2011. Presumably, the City will want to resolve any issues relating to a new zoning by-law before engaging in its Official Plan review.

The first draft of the new by-law has been the source of considerable scrutiny since it was released for public comment during May of 2009. One of the more contentious issues for owners of land zoned for industrial uses were the draft chemical separation distances for properties containing chemical storage uses from residential properties. A second draft of the by-law will be available to the public by April 21, 2010, and unlike the May 2009 draft, it will not contain these contentious minimum separation distance provisions. The Committee has asked Planning Staff to reconsider these provisions and bring forward regulations on separation distances no earlier than the second quarter of 2011.

The second draft may contain new provisions that will be of interest to owners and operators of bars, pubs and restaurants. The Committee has asked the City Planning Division to report on possible amendments to the new by-law regarding restaurants and related uses, specifically: the introduction of a City-wide definition of a “Bar”; the consideration of which zones within the City should permit Bars; the consideration of a cap system for Bars in a given zone or separation requirements for Bars from other uses in a given zone; and the prohibition of rooftop patios and amplified outdoor music and speakers. Planning Staff will provide their recommendations on these issues during the April 21, 2010 meeting of the Committee.

In addition to the Committee’s requests of Planning Staff to delete certain provisions and to consider others, Planning Staff have recommended a number of changes to the May 2009 draft which the Committee may recommend to City Council after the June 2010 statutory public meeting. Among those recommendations are:

  • a proposal to further refine the general employment use definitions that were included in the May 2009 draft of the by-law by relying on the North American Industry Classification System to create definitions of industrial uses that will be allocated to their respective light, medium, and heavy employment land-use zones;  
  • a proposal to exempt existing retail uses other than small scale retail uses and large-scale stand alone retail-stores from the new by-law; and  
  • new transition provisions exempting existing area-based zoning by-law amendments and approved site plan applications from the new bylaw and those sites where the current zoning does not conform with the Official Plan.  

In its March 1, 2010 Report to the Committee, Planning Staff also acknowledged that they are considering transition provisions for Committee of Adjustment approved minor variances. Until recently, Planning Staff’s position was minor variance approvals that had not been acted upon at the time the new by-law is approved, would not be recognized and new Committee of Adjustment approvals would be necessary. Despite indications that Planning Staff are reconsidering this position, a specific proposal for transitional provisions for previous minor variance approvals has not been provided to date. All parties with interests in land in the City are advised to conduct a review of existing zoning standards and the zoning standards of the draft by-law in order to properly assess whether they will lose existing development rights for their properties in the event the draft by-law is adopted by City Council. If you believe you may lose your existing development rights, we strongly recommend making the necessary deputation to the Committee or filing written submissions to City Council prior to the adoption of the draft by-law. It should be noted that failure to participate in the public consultation process, by either making a deputation or filing a written submission on the draft by-law, will result in losing the right to appeal the new zoning by-law once it is passed by City Council.1 FMC has been contacted by many clients regarding the draft by-law and would be pleased to provide you with advice during the final stages of the public consultation process as well as make the requisite oral and written submissions on your behalf.