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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City of Toronto from BMO Field

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 and amendments.

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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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Yonge North Subway Extension map

Request to pause federal funding for Yonge North Subway Extension

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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Housing Crisis - toronto graffiti

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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View of downtown Toronto west, towards Toronto Islands

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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Empty parking garage

Developing a Parking Strategy for Toronto

The Federation of North Toronto Residents Association (FoNTRA) is supportive of the Active TO Midtown Yonge complete street Pilot installed last year.  ActiveTO bike lanes are an important part of the City’s transportation system, helping to reduce automobile use, to enliven the streets, and support the businesses along Yonge Street in Midtown.

We appreciate that the current pattern of streets to the west and the Yellow Creek ravine to the east result in land-locked communities that create challenges to the implementation of the pilot. We are aware that Councillors Layton and Matlow are currently working with Transportation staff and residents to resolve the localized concerns about the current installation of bike lanes and CaféTO installations along with related initiatives to reduce traffic congestion on Yonge Street, such as left-turn lanes. Two of our member organizations are opposed to bike lanes on Yonge Street and their impact on traffic, and another has raised issues re: access to residential streets and impacts of upcoming construction related to development projects, we urge the Committee and City Council to ensure that the traffic concerns underlying their opposition are addressed in the proposed extension of the ActiveTO Yonge Street Pilot.

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woman looking at condos for sale sign

Review of Provincial Housing Affordability Task Force

We support the proposed City of Toronto response to the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force.  We agree that there is a critical housing problem in Toronto. The affordability problem is worldwide, especially in rapidly growing cities. Too many low-income households cannot afford the rents they pay. And too many new middle-income families are priced out of the market for owner-occupied housing.

Unfortunately, the recommendations of the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force will do little to reduce the cost of housing, especially for low-income families. It is all very well to say that housing prices will decline if more housing is built, but the economics of housing are not responsive to rhetoric.

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Housing - Toronto

FoNTRA comments on Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force Report

Land use planning is intended to serve the public interest in achieving complete communities and requires balancing of competing interests, aiming to serve the best interests for both present and future residents. Housing is for most homeowners not just their home but also their biggest asset, and governments have a responsibility in City land use planning and development to protect the interests of existing residents as well as to provide for the need for more housing.

Finding the right balance is not easy. And the role of municipal government is important, as each municipality has different needs and priorities. The Task Force’s recommended one size fits all throughout the province” proposals simply do not work. The issues in small towns such as Creemore or Owen Sound are not the same as the issues in midtown Toronto.

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Toronto bike lanes

2022 Cycling Infrastructure Installation

The Federation of North Toronto Residents Association (FoNTRA) is supportive of the Active TO Midtown Yonge complete street Pilot installed last year.  ActiveTO bike lanes are an important part of the City’s transportation system, helping to reduce automobile use, to enliven the streets, and support the businesses along Yonge Street in Midtown.

We appreciate that the current pattern of streets to the west and the Yellow Creek ravine to the east result in land-locked communities that create challenges to the implementation of the pilot. We are aware that Councillors Layton and Matlow are currently working with Transportation staff and residents to resolve the localized concerns about the current installation of bike lanes and CaféTO installations along with related initiatives to reduce traffic congestion on Yonge Street, such as left-turn lanes. Two of our member organizations are opposed to bike lanes on Yonge Street and their impact on traffic, and another has raised issues re: access to residential streets and impacts of upcoming construction related to development projects, we urge the Committee and City Council to ensure that the traffic concerns underlying their opposition are addressed in the proposed extension of the ActiveTO Yonge Street Pilot.

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ONCA Webinar

Boards & Bylaws

Special Webinar on ONCA Changes – Feb. 16, 2022

Ontario’s Not-for-profit Corporations Act (ONCA) was proclaimed on October 19th, 2021. Nonprofits have 3 years to update their bylaws and letters patent to comply with ONCA. This webinar will walk through what is new in the ONCA, steps nonprofits need to take to transition to the ONCA, and how CLEO’s free resources can help you create ONCA compliant bylaws from scratch or adapt your current bylaws.

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Palmerston multiplex

Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods – Update Report

FoNTRA supports the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) program in principle. However, neighbourhoods across the City have different characteristics that must be taken into consideration in expanding building types across the City. This cannot be a “one size fits all” initiative.

We believe that an extensive public consultation at a Neighbourhood level is critical.  City wide engagement is essential. There should be a review of the processes used for laneway and garden suites, and lessons learned applied. Specific local area participation must also be included and has not been so far except by some local residents associations. Ward based consultations are too broad.

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Stop Out-of-Control Housing Prices

This is to express our strong support for the Motion and Recommendation from Executive Committee to request that the Government of Ontario help to stop out-of-control housing prices by imposing a home speculation and home flipping tax. 

The latter view has been eloquently expressed by Professor Patrick Conlon[1] noting that cities such as Vancouver have “already tried harder than anywhere else in North America to add housing supply in the hopes of lowering home prices and sadly it has not worked…..what’s happening in B.C. is happening elsewhere — whether they are adding housing slowly or quickly. It makes no difference if these cities are constraining supply like San Francisco, California, or letting it rip like Austin, Texas. Everywhere, housing prices are separating from the ability of average wage earners to afford homes.

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