Mandatory Pre-Application Consultation Amendments

Pre-application consultation is encouraged and supported as a component of the Province’s land use planning system, and its use is clearly necessary given the reduced statutory review timelines introduced by Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choices Act, 2019.

FoNTRA strongly supports mandatory pre-application consultation as this will help make the application approval process more efficient for all involved.  At present, the “complete application” requirements mean that applicants must compile enormous amounts of detailed information, and then the process must be repeated when the application is better focused on City objectives. This wastes time for all involved except the consultants who get more work as a result.

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Review of Mediation and Settlement on Planning Process 

This is to express our strong support for Councillor Gord Perks’ request for a review and report back on the negotiation process for development applications which have been appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). Residents Associations are frequently involved in these OLT appeals and have found the process to be inconsistent and not transparent.

We request that the review involve consultation with residents and resident associations, especially those who are “frequent travellers” at the OLT and are familiar with these issues.

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Mandatory Pre-Application Consultation Amendments

Making pre-application consultation a mandatory, rather than a voluntary step in the development review process has been identified by internal and external stakeholders, and through jurisdictional review, as a first step in addressing inconsistencies that have implications for application quality, staff productivity, overall time to decision and city-building outcomes.

The report states that jurisdictional research indicates that improvements to the early stages of the development review process, including requiring pre-application consultation, results in the submission of higher-quality applications, increases the number of applications moving from pre-application consultation to actual submission, reduces the overall number of circulations, and helps to establish mutual accountability early on.

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Study Work Program Update

FoNTRA understands the importance of a vital and active planning function to the long-term health of the whole city, including thriving and complete communities. We recommend:

  • That City Council approve additional resources in the 2021 Toronto Budget for City Planning Division’s Study Work Program; and
  • that City Planning Division ensure that Studies, Plans and Guidelines directed to protection of neighbourhood character, i.e. HCD, CHRA, and Neighbourhood Guidelines are prioritized.  

City Planning Division’s activities basically consist of two streams: the Study Work Program, and Development Review. The Study Work Program, which includes such activities as Avenue Studies, Secondary Plans, Zoning By-law Updates, Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Studies, Community Heritage Resource Assessments (CHRA) and neighbourhood-specific Design Guidelines, is critical in order to advance the City’s strategic priorities, and also to strengthen the position of the City in dealing with development applications. It is also vital in dealing with a provincial government that does not respect the authority and jurisdiction of the City.

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City Planning Study Work Program Update

FoNTRA understands the importance of a vital and active planning function to the long-term health of the whole city, including thriving and complete communities. We recommend:

  • That City Council approve additional resources in the 2021 Toronto Budget for City Planning Division’s Study Work Program; and
  • that City Planning Division ensure that Studies, Plans and Guidelines directed to protection of neighbourhood character, i.e. HCD, CHRA, and Neighbourhood Guidelines are prioritized.

City Planning Division’s activities basically consist of two streams: the Study Work Program, and Development Review. The Study Work Program, which includes such activities as Avenue Studies, Secondary Plans, Zoning By-law Updates, Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Studies, Community Heritage Resource Assessments (CHRA) and neighbourhood-specific Design Guidelines, is critical in order to advance the City’s strategic priorities, and also to strengthen the position of the City in dealing with development applications. It is also vital in dealing with a provincial government that does not respect the authority and jurisdiction of the City.

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City Planning Division – Study Work Program

In order to assess part of the Study Work Program we have extracted and collated the Heritage Conservation studies (HCD studies and plans, CHRAs and other studies) by category i.e. 2020 Forecast, Hearings, Active beyond 2020 and On Hold (see attached). For
example two projects from North York, Lawrence Park West HCD and Leaside CHRA, which were authorized in 2014, are shown as “On Hold” (see attachment).

The development of secondary plans that take transportation and other required infrastructure needs into account along with the availability of parkland, schools, social service requirements, heritage studies, Zoning Reviews and neighbourhood-specific Design
Guidelines are critical. It is important to get ahead of the development applications with completed plans, as is being demonstrated in Midtown (OPA 405) and Downtown (OPA406). While the 2020 Staff Recommended Budget includes small staffing and capital funding increase for certain studies, the Division still lacks the resources to develop and update any
but the most critical Secondary plans. Planning for the City’s future – for the population and
jobs growth that is expected – necessarily suffers. And the lack of updated Secondary plans
with clear population targets/densities and development guidelines necessarily means that
too many planning decisions are left to be determined on an ad hoc basis by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

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