More Darkness in Ontario’s Democracy

In Canada, after an election first ministers write mandate letters to their cabinet colleagues, laying out deliverables their departments should achieve. Some governments make them public (Trudeau, McGuinty and Wynne in Ontario), but others don’t (Harper, Ford). A newly-elected government traditionally outlines its program in its platform and speech from the throne; mandate letters may be more specific. Even if they are not made public, they can provide direction to the bureaucracy. If made public, they can be used to hold the government accountable.

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Heritage Register Review: Public Information Session

Toronto residents are invited to an online Public Information Session to learn about the City’s Heritage Register Review project. The purpose of the meeting is to share information about the project and answer questions.

Date: Monday, February 26

Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Location: Virtual Meeting

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Garbage truck

Loud noises keeping you up at night?

The noise bylaw amendments, which will be discussed at the Economic and Community Development Committee next week, come after a pandemic-delayed review mandated by the 2019 bylaw.

Concerts with the volume turned lower. A limit on how loud a car can be. A new way to complain about noisy waste collectors.

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Toronto City Hall

FoNTRA 2023 Year End Review and 2024 Look Forward

Some highlights/lowlights of 2023 and a look forward to 2024 – another busy year ahead!

  • We ended the year with the most FoNTRA members ever – 37 resident associations!
  • We revitalized the FoNTRA board. It now comprises John Bossons (Summerhill RA), Maureen Kapral (Lytton Park RA), Geoff Kettel (Leaside RA), Al Kivi (South Eglinton Davisville RA), Cathie Macdonald (Deer Park RG), Alan Mackellar (Don Mills RI), Sanjeev Sharma (York Mills RA), and Diana White (QUoRA),
  • The Board updated the FoNTRA bylaw to better reflect how our organization works under the new Provincial (ONCA) requirements – clarifying how we are a federation of resident associations, and how our member RAs are involved.

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Leaside Business Park

Employment area policy proposals

The amendment to the provincial definition of “area of employment” narrows the scope of uses from what is currently permitted in areas of employment. In particular, it expressly excludes from the definition institutional uses and commercial uses, including retail and office uses that are not associated with manufacturing, warehousing, and research and development in connection with manufacturing.

Up to now the Leaside and other Business Parks has been protected though Official Plan policies and zoning bylaws, and Ontario Municipal Board decisions that have respected the Employment Lands boundaries and policies therein. However, under Bill 97, Municipal Comprehensive Reviews would no longer be required, creating open season on employment area conversions, creating uncertainty for employers, and reducing future opportunities for Ontario businesses to grow within their markets.

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Tree canopy - Toronto

Infill housing and protecting Toronto’s tree canopy

We strongly support the identification of potential strategies to protect and enhance the City’s tree canopy and growing space for trees, while also supporting infill housing growth in Toronto’s low-rise neighbourhoods.

However, we note the multiple previous reports to, and motions adopted by City Council, as documented by the Long Branch Neighbourhood Association (LBNA) in its PHC submission on the same item that leads to their recommendation that the effort needs to be hastened and expedited.

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New mid-rise construction adjacent to single-family residential area.

Mid-rise buildings rear transition

The rear angular plane guidelines were developed through a comprehensive study in 2010 that resulted in a guideline that the rear transition to abutting low density residential areas be a 45 degree angular plane applied from a height of 3 storeys at 7.5m from the side lot line of the residential property. The 7.5m is to be used for access and green space.

The (proposed) The guidelines omit any consideration of an objective to ensure an appropriate relationship with the adjacent residential neighbourhood, a key consideration for the angular plane regulation.

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Large house in Casa Loma neighbourhood

By-law simplification for low-rise residential zones

FoNTRA supports simple and clear zoning bylaws, but most important we support bylaws that do the work needed for building and maintaining a livable City. As such we are in broad support of most of the report directions and recommendations.

Simplification is also about simple understanding…But, calling a “converted house” a “low rise apartment building” creates confusion as the building forms are quite different.

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Yonge St. at night

Night Economy Review – final report

Most of the members of our member resident associations, like members of other RAs across the City, have little experience with the current Noise Bylaw, little knowledge of the City’s zoning, no knowledge of the City’s night economy objectives, and no direct experience with the issues caused by current night economy type establishments, which do not operate over night.

Some residents participated in initial discussions about general ideas for changes to regulations for bars, restaurants and entertainments venues including permitting night clubs etc. in areas of the City beyond the Downtown. The main message we heard from residents from the affected areas that the entertainment establishments were extremely noisy and disruptive, and that their patrons on the street, were noisy too. And that making complaints often did not result in successful outcomes. The changes to the regulations now being presented in the staff report were not discussed in any detail at these consultations.

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FoNTRA FORUM to be held at Metro Hall on December 2nd, 2023

Chief Planner Gregg Lintern and his Directors and senior staff will provide an update on planning initiatives of interest. Attendees will be able to ask them your questions and make your comments and suggestions.

This event will be held in-person and will provide an opportunity for residents’ association members to interact with City Planning staff and fellow residents’ association members.

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Heartwood condos - Queen St. Wood construction mid-rise

Mid-Rise Buildings – Rear Transition issues

We are providing our comments on the draft proposal that has been the subject of recent public consultations. We are concerned about the proposals that appear to be one-sided and do not reflect an evidence based and careful assessment of the Mid-Rise Guidelines developed by Brooke-McIlroy Planning, dated May 2010.

  1. Important stakeholders were not represented in the consultation process to develop the revised Mid-Rise Guidelines.
    • The process appeared to rely on input/guidance from the development industry to generate a final report and recommendations including draft revised performance standards.
    • There was no similar opportunity for input from residents including those living in the immediately abutting lands and other affected areas
    • The public is now being asked to comment on what appears to be a “done deal”.

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Proposal for 589-595 Eglinton Ave. E.

589-595 Eglinton Avenue East and 61-67 Mann Avenue

This application proposes a 35-storey (124.75 metres to top of mechanical penthouse) residential building with 26,074 square metres of residential gross floor area for a total of 442 units, and 621 square metres of ground floor retail fronting onto Eglinton Avenue East just west of Bayview Avenue. The development would have a total gross floor area of 26,695 square metres with an FSI of 13.47.

The Leaside Residents Association (LRA) has reviewed the City’s Appeal Report and strongly supports staff’s recommendation that “City Council instruct the City Solicitor with appropriate City staff to attend the OLT hearing and oppose the application in its current form and to continue discussions with the Applicant to resolve outstanding issues”.

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Canadian currency

Updating Toronto’s long-term financial plan

On behalf of our member resident associations, we applaud the steps being taken to deal with the fiscal crisis facing the City of Toronto.

We have attached comments on the measures proposed by staff and the additional recommendations added by the Executive Committee that are before you. We support ;many of the recommendations, but not all.

We strongly support asking the provincial government to provide a greater share of funding of social service programs which it mandates. We especially underline the need for both federal and provincial governments to provide greater financial support for social housing and public transit.

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aerial view of planned community

FoNTRA opposes proposed changes to Ontario’s land use planning framework

On April 6, 2023, Ontario announced new components of its Housing Supply Action Plan, which seeks to encourage the construction of 1.5 million homes by 2031. Two key elements of the announcement are the introduction of Bill 97, the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act, 2023, which is currently at second reading stage in the Ontario Legislature, and the release of a draft Provincial Planning Statement, 2023 (the “Statement”), which was out for public comment until August 4, 2023.

FoNTRA’s report concludes that the proposed Provincial Planning Statement (PPS) and the simultaneous repeal of the Growth Plan for the Golden Horseshoe should not proceed since these initiatives are not only harmful but also entirely unnecessary. FoNTRA, respectfully, urges the government to withdraw the proposed Provincial Planning Statement and to maintain the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

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low-rise residential condo under construction at 7 Dale Ave. Toronto

Zoning by-law simplification and modernization for low-rise residential zones

FoNTRA supports the objectives of the Housing Action Plan and looks forward to participating in the upcoming consultations related to implementation of the objectives of “simplification”, “harmonization” and “modernization”.

The report notes that “A key objective of the Plan is that new development be sensitive, gradual and “fit” the existing physical character to respect and reinforce the general physical patterns in Neighbourhoods.”

We agree that this must remain the overriding objective for the consultation process, which is to begin shortly. All neighbourhoods are not all alike and their differences are important in making our City a great place to live.

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man in suit on e-scooter

Planning for an e-scooter pilot

This item concerns a letter from Councillor Saxe which recommends that:

Infrastructure and Environment Committee direct the General Manager, Transportation Services, in consultation with the Toronto Parking Authority, the Executive Director, Environment and Climate, other relevant divisions, agencies, boards and commissions and key stakeholders including the Accessibility Advisory Committee, to report back to the February 2024 meeting of Infrastructure and Environment Committee on a Micro mobility Strategy as part of a comprehensive “Active Transportation Network” for the City of Toronto.

Infrastructure and Environment Committee request that the report include recommendations concerning a possible E-Scooter Rental Pilot Project with the following characteristics (list provided):

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FoNTRA & FoSTRA logos

Mayoral Candidates Face Residents

New date – mark your calendars!

OCAD University Auditorium,
100 McCaul Street
Thursday, June 22 at 7 p.m.

Live at OCAD University, 60 residents’ associations will host a public meeting to introduce leading mayoral candidates to the people of Toronto. With an outreach to 900,000 residents, this unique event could be a game changer in the municipal election.

Here is the link for Eventbrite registration:

REGISTER NOW

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New multiplex housing on High Park Avenue

Defer multiplex decisions until after mayoral election

FoNTRA supports intensification. It sees it as necessary for the city. On the other hand, it wants to be sure that, as the city intensifies, it does it well. It is crucial that Toronto remain green, and, given climate change, that it become greener. And it is important to build an attractive city. The new multiplexes should fit in well with their neighbourhoods. Some neighbourhoods already have duplexes, triplexes, and four-plexes, and often they harmonize with their surroundings. We can look to them for models for building well.

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Ontario Place

FoNTRA supports staff report on redevelopment of Ontario Place

The staff report provides an excellent overview of the complex considerations that must be given to the review of the Province’s planning applications that, if approved, would result in significant changes to this area, that is of provincial, not just local importance. It notes that there are a number of changes proposed which do not comply with City Planning objectives and many concerns issues particularly about the Province’s proposals for the West Island.

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FoNTRA forum

FoNTRA FORUM held this year in Virtual Setting

We were excited to co-host FoNTRA FORUM in partnership with City Planning staff. The event was well attended and extended beyond the planned time.

The event included various presentations by city staff followed by three Q&A sessions at several intervals. Here is the agenda…

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