KPMG report - review of Committee of Adjustment

KPMG review of the Committee of Adjustment – some concerns require additional action

The KPMG report states that “concerns have been raised by a number of stakeholders that the process is too complex and inaccessible for many users. Some users have expressed lack of confidence and satisfaction in the process and do not believe the current practice consistently delivers quality decisions. Further, there have also been concerns raised about the public’s ability to effectively participate in the public hearings, both in the traditional in-person model and in the virtual hearing model introduced in 2020.”

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Draper St. heritage houses

City Planning needs to ensure that Studies, Plans and Guidelines directed to City building are properly prioritized

FoNTRA’s examination of the Study Work Program updates reveals some concerning trends. The waiting list for studies and plans is long, and getting longer. This trend appears to be especially true for heritage-related studies, including HCD studies/plans, CHRAs, and City-Wide and Area Guidelines. We have compiled the Study Work Program data for these categories by status (Completed, Forecast, Active and Hold) using the updated reports – see attached.

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development pipeline report

Residential planning applications in the pipeline will build 43 percent more than the total need by 2051

FoNTRA found the Development Pipeline report to be a useful and important document. The data it presents provide ample evidence on the astounding imbalance between planning approvals and construction of new housing. But the data are also incomplete, because it says nothing about the provision of affordable housing for households with below-median income.

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City of Toronto Application Centre web page

FoNTRA proposes technology improvements in the AIC, Notification Service and new Reporting in response to Bill 109 Report

FoNTRA praises the efforts of the City Planning Division and other City staff to respond to the challenges posed by Bill 109 and its adverse effects on citizen participation in planning issues in Toronto. The proposed process changes have the potential to effect both an increase in review efficiency and an improvement in information availability. The challenge will be to implement these improvements within the very limited application review time permitted by the Provincial Bill.

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Residential street with mixed housing

2023 Housing Action Plan lacks a staff report and Multi-Tenant Housing report raises many new concerns

FoNTRA says that the 2023 Housing Action Plan proposal lacks a staff report justifying the recommendations, and the Multi-Tenant Housing report raised many concerns when previously considered, which require to be further addressed, such as how will the new regulatory framework be enforced?

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Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square

Opposition to strong mayor legislation grows

Opposition to Ontario Bill 39, Better Municipal Governance Act, 2022, giving the Toronto’s John Tory “strong mayor” powers continues to grow. FoNTRA wrote a letter to Mayor John Tory on November 23, 2022 expressing strong objections to what is widely seen as an anti-democratic move by the provincial government. It was followed by another letter on November 28, urging the mayor to call an emergency session of council to discuss the matter; he refused, despite calls from many of his own councillors to do so. On December 6, fifteen of the 25 city councillors sent a joint letter to Premier Doug Ford and Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark, urging a halt to the legislation.

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FoNTRA raises concerns about the legislated changes made by the Province which are introduced without meaningful consultation with municipalities or the public.

FoNTRA like many across the City are extremely concerned about the legislated changes made by the Province to the City’s development approval system, which are being introduced without meaningful consultation with municipalities or the public. FoNTRA notes, with great concern, the significant reduction of public consultation in the revised application review process, which will deprive the public of important information for consideration and will be extremely detrimental to the outcome.

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Greenbelt river valley

FoNTRA’s objections to proposed Greenbelt changes

The Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations, representing over 30 residents associations in Toronto, submits the following objections on proposed changes to the Greenbelt Plan that would remove or re-designate 15 parcels of land, and add lands in the Paris Galt Moraine area.

Our submission is based on the following points.

1. There is no proven need for this additional land for development.

The government’s Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force stated that: “a shortage of land isn’t the cause of the problem. Land is available, both inside the existing built-up areas and on undeveloped land outside greenbelts.”

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Ontario legislature

FoNTRA asks Mayor Tory to repudiate the special legislative provisions in Bill 39

FoNTRA expresses strong opposition to Bill 39, and concern about recent revelations about the involvement of the Mayor in originating its passage.

Bill 39 would enable the Mayor of Toronto to get a bylaw passed by Council with only one third of the councillors voting in support. As such, only eight of the 25 councillors would need to be onside to have his way, at least on measures that line up with the aims of the provincial government.

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FoNTRA identifies the elements of Bill 23 that are regressive and identify flawed assumptions behind the legislation

FoNTRA states that Bill 23 does many regressive things, but one of the items of most concern is to prohibit any third party (i.e., citizen/resident or community association) appeals of development applications to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). The Bill also proposes increased powers of the OLT to order costs against the party who loses at a hearing, which is intended to inflict substantial costs on parties to chill their participation. These measures are fundamentally undemocratic, vindictive, and represent an unacceptable diminution of citizens’ rights.

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Ontario Legislature

FoNTRA open letter opposing 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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