Ontario Legislature

FoNTRA Open Letter in Opposition to Bill 23

We believe that the foundation of Bill 23 is flawed and if approved it will result in significant adverse impacts on our communities without any guarantees that the needed housing will be built.

The legislation focuses solely on supply (i.e., construction of new houses), not demand. For example,  the federal and provincial governments could reduce the demand for housing in the overheated GTA by influencing the location of jobs.  And conspicuously, the Bill avoids dealing with affordability, again focusing only on production of new housing. The report assumes that affordability is simply a function of supply, i.e. the idea that more supply will bring down the prices, which is unproven.  The experience is that public sector financial and regulatory intervention (ie. subsidy, inclusive zoning) is required in order to achieve affordable housing.

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FoNTRA cites grave concerns with Bill 23

On November 10th, 2022 the FoNTRA Board sent a Letter of Objection to the Standing Committee on Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy with copies to our local MPPs and councillors.

Bill 23 is omnibus legislation that seeks to make significant changes to municipal planning legislation throughout the province. Many residents, community and environmental organizations have begun to raise their concerns in a variety of public forum.

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Queen's Park at night by David Urbonas

Bill 23: Consultation schedule is set

Fewer meetings held more quickly

While residents are struggling to understand the complexity of Bill 23, the province is moving quickly to fix wheels to their wagon.

All of this haste flies in the face of the best practices of consultation that provide a prescription of fairness required of all public bodies. See the details of these best practices (aka The Gunning Principles) below.

The consultation schedule for Bill 23 was released on October 31st.

More homes built faster, 2022 Act

The Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy will meet to consider Bill 23, An Act to amend various statutes, to revoke various regulations and to enact the Supporting Growth and Housing in York and Durham Regions Act, 2022.

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Housing development site - Markham, Ontario

Bill 23: Omnibus bill means that suddenly everything is at risk

Ford and his housing minister previewed the legislation in a Toronto Region Board of Trade event earlier on Tuesday. Ford said in his speech …

“Everyone’s dream is to have a little white picket fence. You know, when they put the key in the door, they know they’re building equity into it, they can do the little tweaks to their house and increase the value of it. That’s our goal.”

It is not yet clear how the proposed legislation will achieve this goal.

The legislation introduces a new concept definition called ‘attainable housing’ that seems to look very much like the old ‘market-based housing.’ This is precisely the outcome that the building industry is hoping for. Toronto has more than 230 cranes in-the-air providing mostly market-based housing … so we can expect more cranes on the horizon.

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Ontario Legislature

How to contact your Toronto MPP

Recent proposed changes to housing policy have caused many city residents to reach out to their local provincial representative. A list of these representatives is available on the province of Ontario website.

The list provided above includes all the MPPs in the province and includes two addresses for each member. One address is the office in the legislative building and the other address is the constituency office.

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Toronto electoral map - proposed

New Electoral Map

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario has proposed a new electoral map for consideration at public hearings this fall. This map introduces changes to Ontario’s federal electoral district boundaries and has been developed through an independent and non-partisan process.

The electoral boundaries for many Toronto ridings will change significantly, in some cases splitting neighbourhoods into two or more different electoral districts. This will potentially affect ALL levels of government, as the provincial boundaries and the municipal ward boundaries are currently the same as the federal ones since the number of Toronto wards was reduced to 25 in 2018.

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Hydrangeas

In Memoriam – Sheila Harrison Dunlop

Sheila Harrison Dunlop, Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations (FoNTRA) steering committee member, Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods (FUN) director, and long-time board member and secretary of the South Armour Heights Residents’ Association (SAHRA), passed away in her 73rd year on August 25, 2022, after a short illness.

Sheila’s death leaves a big hole not only in the hearts of those who knew her, but also in the organizations for which she volunteered. FUN, FoNTRA and SAHRA will miss her greatly. A formal obituary follows and can be found online as well. We will keep you informed of further information as it becomes available.

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Toronto City Hall

‘Strong Mayor’ legislation weak law that won’t solve city’s problems

And at a fundamental level, how does a “strong mayor” address the key problem facing the City of Toronto — its increasing financial problems?

By Geoff Kettel, Contributor
Toronto Star, September, 3, 2022

The Ford government has introduced legislation that would give “strong mayor” powers to — initially — the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa. This out-of-the-blue announcement, (there was no mention of this during the provincial election) was warmly received by Mayor John Tory of Toronto, and perhaps less warmly by Mayor Jim Watson of Ottawa. 

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Toronto City Hall viewed from south showing towers and council chamber and public square

Do we need a strong Mayor or a City with increased powers?

Following a “leak”, Premier Doug Ford recently confirmed that the Mayors of the City of Toronto and the City of Ottawa would be given “strong mayor” powers by his newly re-elected government. This announcement, coming “out of the blue” (there was no mention of this as a promise during the Premier’s recent election campaign) is little more than an idea until the necessary legislation is introduced into the Legislature. Until then we don’t know the details of the “strong mayor” proposal. 

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Growth Funding Tools – FoNTRA responses to City reports

FoNTRA responded to the three reports and recommendations from the City staff re: Growth Funding Tools. The recommendations were passed by the Executive Committee with amendments on July 12, and by City Council on July 19. Please refer to our Growth Funding Tools page for background information and links to the agenda items, by-law, reports …

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Committee of Adjustment Feedback

The City of Toronto is conducting a review of the Committee of Adjustment. Led by the City Planning Division, the objective of the review is to improve effective participation in the public hearing process. A third-party consultant, KPMG, was retained to carry out the work.

KPMG has already begun work on this project including two feedback sessions held on June 2nd and June 13th with residents’ associations invited to attend. We understand that about 30 residents’ associations participated in these sessions.

FoNTRA has completed some research work related to this subject and has created three reports…

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Howland Ave. Toronto - multiplex

EHON Multiplex Study: Draft Official Plan Amendment

The EHON initiatives represent a significant rethinking of the built form and density of Toronto’s neighbourhoods. Neighbourhoods have been central to Toronto’s identity (“The City of Neighbourhoods”) and it is critical that significant changes to planning policies for Neighbourhoods be carefully planned and implemented.

In response to City Planning’s request for comments, we have provided detailed analysis of the draft OPA, including several recommendations (see Attachment 1). In addition, a number of questions have arisen that require clarification and further discussion. We acknowledge that our analysis and comments have benefitted from the advice of Terry Mills (ARRIS Strategy) (see Attachment 2): In addition, we have made several suggestions below, both substantive, and process-wise, as to how to proceed.

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Request to pause federal funding for YNSE

Subject: Request that you pause federal funding for the YNSE until a deal is made public

Dear Prime Minister,

On behalf of the resident and ratepayer groups in York Region and elsewhere in the GTA, listed below, I respectfully request that your government pause payment to the Government of Ontario of your government’s 40% portion of funding for the Yonge North Subway Extension (YNSE) until such time that the Government of Ontario makes public the details of a financial deal it made sometime in 2021-2022 with the owner of lands on either side of Highway 407 at Yonge Street, and until such time that the Government of Ontario meets all conditions and guarantees for funding set forth by your government.

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Exploring Municipal Solutions to the Housing Crisis in Toronto

This is express our strong support for the Motion which requests City Staff to undertake a comprehensive study of the Toronto housing market from a municipal perspective to inform actions that City Council can take to support residents in finding an affordable home that suits their needs.

We applaud the scope – even perhaps the audacity – of the 11 proposed directions to staff. Thus far the City has devoted its efforts (not unlike that of other orders of government) on macro housing supply matters, and we especially support the proposed direction to report on:

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It’s time to free Toronto from the Ontario Land Tribunal

This is to express our qualified support for the Motion:

  • that City Council request the Province of Ontario to dissolve the Ontario Land Tribunal and replace it with a true appeals body that only grants hearings based on an error in law or procedure.

We set our qualifications below.

The Ontario Land Tribunal is an unelected, unaccountable quasi-judicial body that has the “final say” over planning matters in Toronto and across Ontario.

The current Provincial government has (1) amalgamated the former five separate tribunals into one – the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) and (2) given it “final say” powers, reversing the advisory (to municipalities) powers given to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) by the previous government. And procedural changes have reduced the involvement of participants in the hearings.

As a result it appears that the OLT is more politicized, more distant from the concerns of regular people, and less knowledgeable of land use planning than ever.

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General Members Meeting – March 15, 2022

  1. Welcome and agenda approval
  2. Land Acknowledgement
  3. FoNTRA organization matters
    • AGM April 19, 6 p.m.
    • March 16 meeting with Chief Planner
    • Ontario Not for Profit Corporations (ONCA )Act changes
    • Provincial Election
  4. City-wide Policies
    • Official Plan (“Our Plan”)
    • MTSAs
    • EHON/Garden Suites Appeal
    • EHON/Multiplexes

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