Table of Contents
- End-to-End Review of the Development Review Process
- Toronto Building Program Review
- Building & Construction
- One-Stream Preliminary Review Program for Building Permit Applicants
- The Waiver Process
End-to-End Review of the Development Review Process
In January, 2017, City Council directed City Staff to conduct an end to end development process review to report to the Planning and Growth Management Committee. The work involved Planning and Building, in consultation with all Divisions involved in development review, and in conjunction with Information & Technology and Financial Planning staff. This Review led into the establishment of the Concept 2Keys (C2K) program which is being implemented by both Planning and Building. Please see the City of Toronto/Planning Department page for more information on the Review and C2K.
Toronto Building Program Review
The Toronto Building Program Review is part of the Division’s multi-year modernization initiative. Development and building approvals are distinct but overlapping functions. The Program Review is integrated with C2K where the two functions overlap. In Oct, 2019 KPMG was engaged to conduct the review; the Final Report was delivered on May 21, 2021. The Executive Summary identifies barriers to modernization; presents a new client-centric operating model, including outcomes, how it was developed and specific recommendations and addresses how to transition to the new model.
On February 22, 2021, Toronto Building hosted a Toronto Residents’ Associations – Chief Building Official Roundtable to provide an update on the Toronto Building Program Review.
The new model has five pillars:
- Flexible Organizational Structure – a functional organizational structure to improve resource/work management and enhance consistency
- Modern Business Functions – new business functions to proactively address change and empower city-building partnerships
- Customer-focused Service Delivery – service delivery tailored to needs of different customer groups, from one-time applicants to sophisticated industry veterans
- Leading Regulatory Approaches – risk-based approaches and new industry partnerships to increase system capacity and expedite timelines
- Dynamic Budget Mode – a dynamic, flexible budget model to enable investment and modernization
Six ‘Permit Streaming Models’ are proposed:
- Small Residential Projects
- Commercial Xpress
- New Homes
- Additions & Renovations
- Complex Projects
- Strategic City-wide Priorities
A phased implementation was to begin in early 2021, working closely with C2K and CXi (Customer Experience and Innovation Team) to align the recommendations and work plans. The Chief Building Official and Executive Director, Toronto Building presented a Report and the Final Report prepared by KPMG at the May 20, 2021 meeting of the Planning and Housing Committee.
FonTRA submitted a letter and deputed asking that residents also be considered as “customers,” as residents are impacted by various functions undertaken by Toronto Building. Problems were outlined with Committee of Adjustment applications in the use of Waivers as well as Building Code issues. Inconsistency in enforcement and lack of enforcement continue to be an issue. The shift to a functional organizational model, from a geographical one, may result in a loss of knowledge and experience with local conditions. All of this needs to be considered.
The PHC adopted the Report with amendments to report back to the PHC in Q2 of 2022 on the implementation of the following enhancements to the Toronto Building Program:
- Strengthening existing processes related to demolition approvals, in collaboration with Heritage Preservation Services, so that local City Councillors are notified of demolition applications for commercial buildings in their Ward;
- Implementing a clear and accessible web-based tool to provide the public with current information on the status of Toronto Building investigation and enforcement activity, including complaints received through 311 Toronto; and
- Developing a strategy, in consultation with the General Manager, Transportation Services and General Manager, Municipal Licensing and Standards to minimize the adverse impacts on the public as a result of large construction projects occurring within close proximity to one another.
It was stated that the new structure is expected to be in place by the end of Q1 2022, followed by implementation of operational and administrative processes to support the new service delivery model.
For more information, please contact the Toronto Building Program Review Team.
Building & Construction
Information on a variety of building and construction processes is available on a number of subjects including:
Applying for a Building Permit
Building Permit Application Status
Sign Permits & Information
Complaining about Construction Noise
Construction Regulations regarding Trees
Infrastructure & City Construction
Preliminary Zoning Reviews & Information
Information is also available on the Plan Review Process.
Go to the Building Application App if you want to find/review information on a specific application.
One-Stream Preliminary Review Program for Building Permit Applicants
The Chief Building Official submitted recommendations on January 12, 2022 to the Planning and Housing Committee on the implementation of a One-Stream Preliminary Review Program for Building Permit Applicants. The Report for Action described the two programs that currently exist – the Preliminary Project Review Program (a single review to confirm if the application complies with the City’s Zoning By-law) and the Certificate Program (a detailed review to confirm that the plans comply with zoning and identifies applicable laws, allowing for a “complete” building permit application). Based on client and industry feedback, however, these similar yet different review streams cause confusion, leading to clients applying to the incorrect stream resulting in delays and additional fees.
To improve service delivery, eliminate confusion and introduce a more cost effective fee structure, the report recommended changes to Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 363 (Construction and Demolition) and Chapter 441 (Fees) . This will allow Toronto Building to merge the two programs into a one-stream preliminary review program. As a result, all clients will be provided with a detailed review of a project proposal confirming compliance with the City’s Zoning By-law(s) and applicable law.
The report recommended that the new program take effect on March 1, 2022, supported by staff training and proactive communication with industry stakeholders and the public.
The implementation of the one-stream preliminary review program provides an opportunity to consider whether application submission requirements to the Committee of Adjustment should change to require a preliminary zoning review, rather than allowing the use of a ‘zoning waiver’. City Planning, in conjunction with Toronto Building, will review the Committee of Adjustment application requirements in this regard and report back to the Planning and Housing Committee by the end of Q2 2022.
FoNTRA supported the recommendations to implement the One-Stream Preliminary Review Program. FoNTRA specifically supported the review for removing the use of a zoning waiver at the Committee of Adjustment. For a fair and transparent hearing, the meeting notice must include a complete and accurate list of variances prepared by Toronto Buildings. All clients should be required to have a Preliminary Zoning Review confirming compliance with the City’s Zoning By-law(s) and applicable law prior to the hearing. The recommendations to amend Toronto Municipal Code, Chapters 363 and 441 as well as to review application requirements for the Committee of Adjustment to consider requiring a preliminary zoning review to verify the minor variances and removing the option of a zoning waiver were adopted by the Planning and Housing Committee without amendment. It was considered by City Council on February 2, 2022 and was adopted without amendments and without debate..
The Waiver Process
The Waiver process started some years when there was a huge backlog when the new By-law 569-2013 was enacted. The process allows an application to proceed to the Committee of Adjustment (CofA) without a formal Zoning Examination (called a Preliminary Project Review or PPR) by the Building Department to confirm all the required variances and the values for those variances.
Today the Waiver process is used by architects/designers/developers so that they do not have to wait for a zoning examiner review, which gets them through the CofA process more quickly.
The theory is that errors in correctly identifying the minor variances could results in costly delays for the applicant as it should get caught when they apply for a Building Permit, after they receive CofA approval on the variances, as they defined them. At that point, a zoning examiner does a review and the application is supposed to go back through the CofA process if something is missed or incorrect.
Residents’ Associations have encountered provided specific instances where it was fekt that the Zoning Examiner did not detect a variance that should have been required, after the CofA process, before the Building Permit was issued. When discovered, it was too late to remedy the structure. Since 2016, residents’ associations and FoNTRA have been submitting requests to Toronto Planning and Building and Councillors to undertake a study to eliminate the waiver process.
Our requests were resubmitted in 2018, 2020 and 2021!
However, Will Johnston, Chief Building Official and Executive Director, Toronto Building stated at the Feb 22, 2021 Toronto Residents’ Associations – Chief Building Official Roundtable that the Waiver Process would be eliminated in the new operating model for Toronto Building. Confirmation of this statement was requested in March, 2021 along with asking for an estimate of when this change will be implemented…but no response has been received as of September, 2021.
Building submitted recommendations to the Agenda Item on January 12, 2022, to the Planning and Housing Committee on the implementation of a One-Stream Preliminary Review Program for Building Permit Applicants.
The Report for Action described the two programs that currently exist and recommended that the two programs be merged into a one-stream preliminary review. As a result, all clients will be provided with a detailed review of a project proposal confirming compliance with the City’s Zoning By-law(s) and applicable law.
The implementation of the one-stream preliminary review program then provides an opportunity to consider whether application submission requirements to the Committee of Adjustment should change to require a preliminary zoning review, rather than allowing the use of a “zoning waiver.” City Planning, in conjunction with Toronto Building, will review the Committee of Adjustment application requirements and report back to the Planning and Housing Committee by the end of Q2 2022 on the feasibility of removing the zoning waiver option.
FoNTRA supported the recommendations to implement the One-Stream Preliminary Review Program and the review for removing the use of a zoning waiver at the Committee of Adjustment. For a fair and transparent hearing, the meeting notice must include a complete and accurate list of variances prepared by Toronto Buildings. All clients should be required to have a Preliminary Zoning Review confirming compliance with the City’s Zoning By-law(s) and applicable law prior to the hearing. The recommendations to review application requirements for the Committee of Adjustment to consider requiring a preliminary zoning review to verify the minor variances and removing the option of a zoning waiver was adopted by the Planning and Housing Committee without amendment. It was considered by City Council on February 2, 2022 and was adopted without amendments and without debate.
Councillors A. Bailao and F. Nunziata submitted Member Motion MM37.21 to City Council on Nov. 9, 2021 on Measures to Enhance Compliance After the Permit Process.
The background information for the motion states “With construction of a significant number of buildings occurring annually across the City of Toronto, there are regular complaints to the City indicating that builders, particularly with smaller properties, are undertaking additional work after the City’s building permit inspection process is complete, resulting in buildings which are not in compliance with the originally approved permits. There are complaints that City inspection and enforcement regulations and protocols do not provide to City staff the ability to fully inspect buildings upon closure of the permit, once the building is occupied. A joint Municipal Licensing and Standards and Toronto Building review of the current inspection and enforcement tools would help identify opportunities to mitigate against these practices.”
City Council adopted a motion on this subject on Nov. 9, 2021 with amendments. City Council directed Toronto Building in consultation with Municipal Licensing and Standards to report to the Planning and Housing Committee in the second quarter of 2022, as part of the update on the Toronto Building Program Review, with options for strengthening the City of Toronto’s enforcement of illegal construction after occupancy, or where a change of use of the property has occurred, as well as options for scheduling and carrying out inspections by the City automatically in the event of a violation notice being issued, not relying on the applicant to communicate with the city for a follow up inspection. FoNTRA supported this motion for strengthening enforcement.