Summary of issues for the new Council

September 10, 2014

in 2014, Current Issues, FoNTRA Advocacy Positions 2012-2019, Local Governance, Upcoming Meetings


September means not only the start of the school year, but for civically engaged folk at least, this
month marks the start of a three month hiatus without committee and council meetings. Wow! Can
we rest? Not really, instead we will be subject to endless door-knocking and invitations to all
candidate meetings. Also, there will likely still be some public meetings on planning applications.
With the October 27 election coming, there are several All Candidate Meetings and Mayoral
Debates planned in our area. Please let us know if your RA is arranging such a meeting and we
will add it to our list and publicize. The following are meetings we know about at the moment:
Mayoral Debate
Leaside Property Owners Assn
Tuesday Oct. 7, 7.30pm
William Lea Room
Leaside Memorial Community Gardens
Ward 26 All Candidates Meeting
Leaside Property Owners Assn
Tuesday Oct. 21, 7.30pm
William Lea Room
Leaside Memorial Community Gardens
Note that FoNTRA does not endorse any candidates for mayor or Council. However, we do of
course encourage people to vote!
Finally, RAs may be interested to participate in YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) Toronto 2014 to
be held on Saturday, September 27 at University of Toronto Schools (UTS), 371 Bloor St. West.
This is an opportunity for not-for-profit organizations to let the public know more about their issues
and efforts. | @YIMBYtoronto |
The end of the four year council term is an important juncture, and we have attempted to summarize
where things are at on several issues of importance to FoNTRA resident association members in
North Toronto and North York.
The Development Permit System (DPS) approved by City Council in July has been quite
contentious, welcomed by some and scorned by others. The DPS is a new planning system to
Toronto (allowed under the Planning Act but never before implemented in Toronto), that says, do
the planning for an area up front and set detailed criteria for development to meet. Then a DPS
application will be either approved or rejected … with no appeal … by third parties. And there’s the
‘rub’. CORRA has declared that it will appeal the Official Plan amendment putting DPS in place
because an appeal of a permit application is limited to the applicant, not to third parties (individuals
and RAs).
Eglinton Connects is the city’s long term vision for Eglinton “to become Toronto’s central eastwest
avenue, a green, beautiful linear space that supports residential living, employment, retail and
public uses in a setting of community vibrancy,” and is driven by the coming of the Eglinton
Crosstown LRT. It focuses on three main planning directions: 1. Building: opportunities for midrise
intensification and development along the corridor and especially in six Focus Areas. 2.
Greening: including developing a trackway with groundcover and growing great trees. 3.
Reallocation of the Right of Way (ROW) along the lines of the “complete streets” model for
accommodating all users, pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles.
At its August meeting, Council approved the final set of Eglinton Connects planning
recommendations. The “complete street” vision received wide support and approval from RAs, as
well as BIAs and Cycle Toronto. Density will be increased but not in a wholesale way.
Intensification had mixed support with concerns mainly about the idea of creating rear laneways (by
demolishing the house behind the Avenue). As a result Eglinton Connects staff retreated to a
position of moving forward on only one demonstration project (where apparently there was already
neighbourhood support). For example, in Leaside there is concern for destabilization of a larger
area if townhouses were to be allowed in the area west of Hanna Road. Meanwhile the “focus
areas”, at nodes such as Bayview and Eglinton, and Brentcliffe to Eglinton, south of Eglinton to
Vanderhoof will be the subject of further study this fall.
Midtown in Focus is a worthy effort to examine and improve the public realm in the Yonge
Eglinton area, which as a “Growth Centre” is receiving massive continuing development, yet is
administratively split between two planning districts and community councils (Toronto and East
York, and North York). The plan was supported by RAs and received Council approval, but there
needs to be further work to ensure that its directions are implemented.
You may recall that FoNTRA was working with city staff to improve the workings of the
Committee of Adjustment. While some changes were made, widespread dissatisfaction among
RAs regarding the CofA continues. Recently Councillor Robinson was successful in having a
motion passed asking for a report back by staff on areas of concern such as the notice period to
residents and neighbours. Here is a link to the Robinson motion.
RAs should contact City Planning with their concerns in regard to the matters under study.
The other major direction affecting the Committee of Adjustment is the Local Appeal Body (LAB)
project. Council agreed to implement a Local Appeal Body for Toronto at its meeting in July. The
pubic consultation on this project surfaced continuing concerns from residents about the Committee
of Adjustment system and were largely skeptical of the benefits of the new system. However in the
end it passed, largely following from the argument that the City cannot have it both ways – Council
passed a motion that the OMB should be abolished, so it has to show the province a willingness to
start to take on OMB functions. FoNTRA has supported it largely on this basis.
However, while we can only hope for improvements to the CofA process, including CofA appeals,
such changes will not be able to mitigate some of the substantive issues in the area. Currently we
are seeing a proliferation in the area of tall infill houses significantly different from those
traditionally found in Toronto. These houses have negative and unfair effects on neighbours.
Problem features include the following:
1. High “Juliet” decks that overlook people’s lawns and traditional decks, reducing neighbours’
access to sunlight and the privacy that Canadians expect in their back lawn.
2. Chimney problems due to infill houses so tall that neighbouring chimneys no longer function
properly, requiring neighbours to replace furnaces and/or chimneys at significant expense.
The underlying cause of these builds with negative effects on affected neighbours is the house
design with integrated garage where the first floor height is the top of the garage. This also has
streetscape (including reduced space for landscaping) and access issues as it requires a large number
of front steps. Almost-at-grade-level ground floors are being called basements, on the basis of a
built-in garage that is mere centimeters below grade. The ground floor area does not count in the
FSI so larger houses are allowed to evade the square footage (density) limits and houses which are,
in effect, three storey buildings are being called two storey buildings.
These houses exceed the maximum height mandated by Toronto bylaws, and we feel that a variance
should not be granted unless the developer can show an agreement is in place to compensate
neighbours for costs that may be incurred due to this new house form. We also feel that proposed
taller (and often deeper) houses should be scrutinized carefully for other problems such as sunlight
and neighbourhood character, to ensure that they are not inappropriate for the area.
The current Official Plan Neighbourhoods policies owe much to the efforts of RAs and RA
federations (FoNTRA and CORRA). So it is critical that RAs are involved in the review of the
Draft Policies for Healthy Neighbourhoods, Neighbourhoods and Apartment Neighbourhoods
which was recently released by City Planning, and approved by Planning and Growth Management
Committee for public review. FoNTRA invites your comments on the draft that went to Planning
and Growth Management Committee in June, which we will consolidate and submit to the review.
Watch for notices of upcoming meeting with RAs in the fall.
The issue of electronic digital signs as a distraction to drivers and a blight on neighbourhoods has
been of interest and concern to FoNTRA. We opposed the proposal of Metrolinx to put new signs
on the 401/427 Highways that Council in fact approved, despite a staff recommendation against.
However such signs are not permitted on the 400 series highways and we have written to the
Minister of Transportation asking that he not approve them in this precedent setting case.
City Planning has launched Growing Conversations, a process meant to improve the relationship
between the City of Toronto and its residents and stakeholders through a better community
engagement process. Improved engagement will result in planning outcomes that better reflect the
vision and values of residents and the communities in which they live.
In light of the re-drawing of the federal electoral boundaries and a growing concern about inequity
in the size of the current wards Council has approved a ward boundary review study, with a view
to making changes for the 2018 election. Public meetings will be held late this fall and further
information may be obtained at the project web site.

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