July 4, 2022
Planning and Housing Committee
City Hall, East Tower
100 Queen St. W, 12th Floor
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Attention: Nancy Martins
RE: PH35.8: Toronto Local Appeal Body – Chair’s 2021 Annual Report
Dear Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão, Chair, and Members, Planning and Housing Committee
FoNTRA commends the work that the TLAB has done to improve public education, including the Chair’s Annual Report, the Open Business Meetings, and the enhanced Public Guide. FoNTRA always looks forward to the TLAB Chair’s Annual Report, and we are pleased to provide feedback and recommendations on the 2021 Report.
Our detailed comments are provided in the Attachment, and our recommendations are as follows:
#1: ESTABLISH NAVIGATOR STAFF ROLE TO ASSIST PUBLIC (see attached Comment #15)
The TLAB Annual Report recommends the introduction of a new TLAB administrative staff role, that of a ‘Navigator’:
- FoNTRA enthusiastically supports the creation of the new Navigator staffing role as it will provide a much-needed public service.
- The creation of this new service will help to reduce the substantial barriers that exist today for self-represented parties at TLAB. As residents are assisted to gain a better understanding of the process, we anticipate that public engagement will increase in a positive way.
#2: PREPARE HANDBOOK FOR SELF-REPRESENTED PARTIES (see attached Comment #8)
The TLAB Annual Report also recommends the preparation of a handbook for self-represented parties and a draft list of frequently asked questions:
- We believe that the handbook for self-represented parties and an online list of frequently asked questions will assist many new parties at TLAB hearings.
- The TLAB should include these items in the work plan for 2022.
#3: POST CLOSED CASES ON OPEN DATA PORTAL (see attached Comment #14)
The TLAB Annual Report has introduced detailed summary statistics on cases handled and the disposition of these cases. The source data behind these statistics could reveal valuable additional information of public interest. We recommend that:
- TLAB provide a summary spreadsheet of all closed TLAB applications at the end of the calendar year. These spreadsheets should be made available through the City’s Open Data Portal.
We note that the TLAB’s Annual Report is an important exercise and demonstrates openness and accountability from an important administrative tribunal. We strongly suggest that the Committee of Adjustment should follow this same model and provide annually a similar report to the PHC Committee.