Municipal Muffler: Better Tools for Vehicular Noise Enforcement

Our members agree that loud vehicular emissions continue to be a major problem on many arterials and freeways around the City, as well as locations like plaza parking lots. We understand that enforcement is difficult. The use of occasional Police check points to catch offenders cannot be effective. The City of Toronto should be taking a proactive approach to reducing excessive noise, which is not just annoying, it is a health issue. Emerging technologies and equipment can offer more effective ways to enforce the noise by-laws.

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Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) bypass city planning

Only about two weeks ago, FoNTRA expressed to you its serious concerns about the current use of Minister’s Zoning Orders (“MZOs”) but has received no response to its reasoned arguments. FoNTRA is, therefore, more than surprised and disappointed to learn that, in the meantime, you have issued new MZOs for three sites in the Distillery District of downtown Toronto – without any public consultation, without any involvement of the City Planning Department, without securing any community benefits to support an adequate infrastructure, and without even any notification of local politicians.

Notwithstanding some ingenuous views voiced in the local media – see, for example, Alex Bozikovic in The Globe and Mail of 28 October 2020 – that is no way to run a democratic and intelligent planning system. Just because a move is legal does not make it ethical or fair. In the earlier letter, FoNTRA has outlined in some detail the evolution of MZOs, as intended by successive governments of all political stripes on the advice of several expert panels.

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Minister’s Zoning Orders strip provisions for notices, public meetings, and rights of appeal

FoNTRA considers the expanded use of MZOs a high-handed, illegitimate rule by fiat. The tool of MZOs was introduced at a time when many municipalities lacked Official Plans and effective zoning regulations. Provincial intervention was justified in such situation. Today, the conditions have changed materially since municipalities now control development with broad sets of planning tools. For the government to now invite municipalities – many with sophisticated planning resources on their own – to apply for MZOs represents a radical reversal of roles that can only damage the planning framework. Moreover, the Provincial Policy Statement protects the provincial interest and Provincial Plans – particularly the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe – give the Province effective control over development priorities without having to resort to MZOs. FoNTRA agrees, though, that during this pandemic, projects related to long-term care homes and supportive housing are emergencies where MZOs may be appropriate.

FoNTRA, respectfully, asks the government to confine the use of MZOs to extraordinary situations arising from the pandemic and to swiftly discard the recent wide- spread and undemocratic enhanced approach of backroom deals without notice, without public consultation, and without the right of appeal.

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Falconer Hall heritage designation

At the September 29 meeting of the Toronto Preservation Board (Board), FoNTRA as well as many other organizations and individuals, objected to how Falconer Hall was proposed to be included in a proposed development, the subject of TE19.2. Our objections primarily related to the large scale of the proposal for the location on Queens Park The development as proposed has a significantly larger scale than other institutional buildings on Queen’s Park. In addition, it displays a profound lack of sensitivity to the significance of the site as a cultural heritage landscape.

The Board in its decision recommended that City Council state its intention to designate Falconer Hall and in addition recommended that: “City Council request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to defer action on the alterations proposed in the report until a comprehensive study of the Queen’s Park cultural heritage landscape is complete.” FoNTRA agrees with the Board that the proposed development should not be approved unless and until it is shown to be acceptable following the study.

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Amendment 1 to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe 2019

On 29 January 2019, FoNTRA submitted the attached brief commenting on the Proposed Amendment 1 to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe 2017. Four members of FoNTRA’s Steering Committee also attended your Ministry’s Toronto Regional Round- table on Proposed Changes to Growth Plan on 13 February 2019, which you chaired. Un- fortunately, when the new Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe 2019 came into effect on 16 May 2019, FoNTRA noted that few, if any, of its proposals had found their way into the new policy framework.

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Request to rescind the provincial regulation overriding Toronto’s Construction Noise By-law

This correspondence is provided to indicate our strong support for Councillor Wong-Tam’s Motion that “City Council request the Province of Ontario to immediately rescind Ontario Regulation 130/20”. Limitation 2 to Ontario Regulation 130/20, enacted April 7, 2020, does not allow the City to regulate or prohibit noise in connection with construction. The Regulation overrides the City of Toronto’s municipal noise by-law through to October 7, 2021, to the detriment of residents.

FoNTRA wrote to the Premier on April 19 to request that this measure (as well as making residential construction an essential service, opening a significant risk of COVID-19 infection to workers) be reversed. Excessive noise is a health hazard that impacts the physical and mental health, and quality of life of residents.

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Proposed Regulatory Matters Pertaining to Community Benefits Authority under the Provincial Acts

Hon. Stephen ClarkMinistry of Municipal Affairs and Housing 17th Floor, 777 Bay St.Toronto, ON, M5G 2E5 RE: ERO Number 019-1406: Proposed regulatory matters pertaining to community benefits authority under the Planning Act, the Development Charges Act, and the Building Code Act Dear Minister Clark, This is to provide a response that can only be consideredas …

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Residential Construction as an Essential Workplace and Override of City Noise By-Law

We appreciate that these are difficult times and that serious actions are required by your government to protect public health and safety. However we were taken by surprise with two recent actions regarding construction activity that your government has taken, despite the extensive restrictions affecting many other sectors to reduce the impact and the spread of the COVID 19:

  • To declare residential construction sites as essential services, and therefore to remain open as workplaces, and
  • To override the City of Toronto and its municipal noise by-law from April, 7, 2020 to October 7, 2021 (Ontario regulation 130/20).

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Proposed regulations pertaining to the community benefits authority

We are very concerned that the new tools proposed under the Community Benefits Charge Authority (CBCA) will not be adequate to provide for both hard infrastructure and the community facilities and parkland that will be needed to support complete communities and make new development liveable for people and families.

The Minister has stated that the new regulations should not result in municipalities having to make up any cost shortfalls. However, until the regulations are fully developed, it is not possible to assess the full impact of the changes to the Development Charges Act or the adequacy of the Community Benefits Charge Authority, and to verify the statement that the proposed regulation changes will be revenue neutral.

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Amendment 1 to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

According to the government, the “proposed changes address implementation challenges with the Plan that were identified by the municipal and development sectors and other stakeholders” and “are intended to provide greater flexibility and address barriers to building homes, creating jobs, attracting investments and putting in place the right infrastructure while protecting the environment.” We note for the record that FoNTRA, as one of the most significant stakeholder organization in the Province representing the interests of residents, had not been consulted.

The stated purpose of the proposed changes is “to quickly address identified implementation challenges with the Plan and to not unfairly disrupt housing and other developments currently underway,” so as “to unlock land faster for residential and commercial development and support more jobs and housing.” This seems to suggest that there is a shortage of land available for development and may explain the proposed deletion of existing language describing one of the Growth Plan’s key underlying concepts: “There is a large sup- ply of land already designated for future urban development in the GGH. In some communities, there may be more land designated for development than is required to accommodate forecasted growth to the horizon of this Plan.” Is there a shortage or a large supply of land designated for future development?

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Inclusionary Zoning

This is to express our strong support for the Planning and Growth Management Committee’s recommendation to City Council (which endorsed the staff report recommendation) to request the Province to amend the proposed inclusionary zoning regulations, and to consult further with municipalities and stakeholders on an appropriate and flexible implementation framework for inclusionary zoning, prior to proclaiming the regulation.

The Province’s proposed rules would

  • Restrict municipalities from requiring more than 5% of new units to be affordable (or 10% if they are in a Major Transit Station Area);
  • Prevent municipalities from requiring developers to build affordable units if the new development is a rental building;
  • Require the municipality to contribute 40% of the cost of making the units affordable. These rules would mean that, despite municipalities being given new powers, virtually no affordable housing would be built.

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