Operations and Practices

Dealing with CofA Applications

Over the years, a number of guides have been created by various parties to help others to learn how to deal with the Committee of Adjustment tribunal review process. We thank all of the organizations that have allowed us to reproduce and share their knowledge and expertise. Individual RAs have also developed processes to help their neighbours understand and deal with CofA applications. 

Please note: any references to the OMB in these documents may now actually be heard by the Toronto Local Appeal Board (TLAB) depending on the nature of the development/appeal.

A number of Residents’ Associations (RA) have processes in place to receive and review the advance Notice of applications. They review the requested variances and ensure that the neighbours in the area are aware of the application, offering to review the variances with the neighbour if they have concerns. The RA can provide information and guidance on the variance requests and the process for the neighbour(s) to make their concerns known. 

The time to state concerns about the variances is before/at the CofA Hearing. The developer may be willing to meet with the RA/neighbours to review the Plans and perhaps to make some modifications to eliminate objections being submitted to the CofA.  You may decide to call on experienced resources to assist you with these negotiations – a municipal law lawyer, planner or CofA expert.  The time to negotiate any side agreements with the developer is before the CofA hearing — this is when they are willing to discuss issues with you!  But you also have to get any agreements in writing or they may never come about.

If you/neighbours decide to submit a letter to the CofA, it should be submitted the week prior to the deadline so that it is distributed to the Panel Members for review before the hearing.  It is also essential that you or your representative attend the hearing to state your concerns directly to the Panel Members.  If your neighbours are also concerned, they should also attend showing that there is community concern about the proposal. Also, contact your Councillor – the Councillor needs to know that the neighbours have concerns – ask the Councillor to submit a supporting letter to the CofA. You will be allowed to speak for 5 minutes at the CofA hearing to outline your concerns so you need to prepare the key issues you wish to address.  Experts may be able to help prepare and/or present your concerns.

Who can help?

  • The Residents’ Association can help neighbours understand the variances and their impacts
  • Lawyers who deal with CofA issues
  • Planners who deal with CofA issues
  • CofA ‘agents’ can help by reviewing the variances; assisting in the preparation of a letter to the CofA; and/or acting as a representative at the CofA hearing
  • ‘Agreement’ experts can help by reviewing the potential problems and discussing these with the developer to negotiate agreements; and, if desired, provide a monitoring service to ensure compliance.

Advisors

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Association
Leaside Residents’ Association

Al Kivi
South Eglinton Davisville Residents’ Association


Insurance

The subject of Insurance is often raised by Residents’/Ratepayers’ Associations (RA’s) who are members of FoNTRA. Some RA’s are Incorporated/some are not. Of the incorporated RA’s, some do not have any insurance; some have Directors & Officers Liability (D&O); some may also have Commercial General Liability (CGL). The cost of the insurance is a significant challenge to arranging coverage for many RA’s.

On the benefit side to having insurance, it covers the RA and its Directors, Officers and, possibly, volunteers for a range of potential legal liabilities, including claims arising from injuries/accidents at public events. It can also serve as insurance coverage that will be requested when renting or using a third party facility (such as a meeting room in a church). Increasingly, third parties are requesting such insurance coverage. As well, potential Board Members will often question whether or not the RA holds insurance, as they want to be protected from the risk of lawsuits for their volunteer efforts. We live in an increasingly litigious society and the frequency of lawsuits (legitimate or not) has skyrocketed over the past 25 years.

Another benefit to having insurance is that legal fees incurred in defending a lawsuit are included in the insurance coverage. Even if a RA is not found ultimately liable for a CGL or D&O claim, the defence costs incurred may well be in the multiple thousands of dollars. Without a policy in place, the RA and/or Directors/Officers will need to cover the legal expenses out of their own pockets.

Review this resource document for a discussion of CGL and D&O policies as they apply to non-profits:

For more detailed information and advice on CGL and/or D&O policies, your RA should consult a licensed Insurance Broker and/or a Lawyer.

In April, 2018 FoNTRA surveyed member RAs to determine what insurance arrangements the RAs currently have, to get feedback on their opinions on the need for insurance coverage and to find out if they were interested in being given information to pursue obtaining insurance coverage. 

Responses were received from 23 RAs – of these, 20 are incorporated. Ten of the incorporated RAs carry Directors & Officers Liability and of those, eight carry Commercial General Liability insurance as well. Please note that the principles governing unincorporated organizations are different from those governing incorporated organizations and legal advice might be helpful.

For the RAs that have Directors & Officers Liability, the Limits of Insurance values range from $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 with premium costs ranging from $500 to $1200. Commercial General Liability limits also range from $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 with premium costs ranging from $500 to $1,800.

If an RA is interested in discussing the 2018 insurance survey, please contact Geoff Kettel.

FoNTRA has spoken with the following brokers who would be pleased to talk with your RA about possible CGL and/or D&O coverage and costs:

Cade Associates Insurance Brokers Ltd. (Ross Fraser)
4800 Dundas St. West Suite 100, Toronto ON, M9A 1B1
416-234-9980

Canadian Insurance Brokers (Daniel Goldhar)
1 Eglinton Ave E, Suite 415, Toronto ON, M3P 3A1
Direct: 416-583-5854 Main: 416-486-0951

R. Robertson Insurance Brokers Ltd. (Greg Robertson)
150 Bridgeland Ave #203, North York ON M6A 1Z5
416-780-9906 (224) / 877-489-9906


Ontario Business Registry

If your residents’ organization is incorporated under Ontario laws, you will have to complete some steps to be able to access your Profile and to complete certain tasks (i.e. submitting Changes). Access your profile in the Ontario Business Registry

The first step in the process is to obtain a “company key” – think of it as a PIN number.  Scroll down to the ‘Get a company key’ section; complete and submit the form. A company key will be mailed to the mailing address on record for your corporation. In order to access the Ontario Business Registry, you must get a company key.

Once you have received the Company Key, the second step is to login to create a ONe-key ID. Scroll down to ‘Login to One-Key’ section, complete and submit the form.  You will be asked to create a ONe-key ID as well as a ServiceOntario account. Now you will be able to access your corporation’s Profile and complete on-line tasks.


Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA)

The Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, passed in the Ontario legislature in 2010, was finally proclaimed on October 19, 2021. Residents associations and other non-profits in the province have three years to review and update their governing documents to assure compliance with the new regulations. 

FoNTRA and the Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods (FUN) are working together to collect recommended reading materials that will be useful in understanding what is involved in transitioning to ONCA. 

A number of legal firms and other organizations such as Non-Profit Law Ontario (Community Legal Education Ontario known as CLEO) have offered webinars on ONCA to residents’ organizations across the Province.

Advisors

Al Kivi
South Eglinton Davisville Residents’ Association


TLAB Learnings

Information is provided under Planning/Tribunals on the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) – how it was created and how it functions.  Many residents associations are faced with trying to represent their organization or provide assistance to their members in being a Party or a Participant at a TLAB hearing. There is a significant learning curve involved with understanding how to best present their case. In this section, we will try to provide information and advice on how to learn how to deal with TLAB cases.

We would recommend that the first step be reading the workbook “Practice Essentials for Administrative Tribunals” prepared by the Ombudsman Saskatchewan. This workbook includes a description of the process and a glossary of terms.  This will help you understand the TLAB-created materials referenced later in this write-up.  Refer to the Glossary for an explanation of terms used by Tribunals.

Repeating a quote in the workbook attributed to  Sir Andrew Leggatt in his 2001 report prepared for the Lord High Chancellor of England: Tribunals for Users – One System, One Service: A Report of the Review of Tribunals by Sir Andrew Leggatt.

It should never be forgotten that tribunals exist for users, and not the other way round. No matter how good tribunals may be, they do not fulfil their function unless they are accessible by the people who want to use them, and unless the users receive the help they need to prepare and present their cases.

TLAB Attendance

One of the best ways to learn about TLAB is to attend, as a listener, one or more sessions for cases that are similar to the type of situation you may be dealing with. Review the TLAB Schedule looking at the future-dated sessions. 

Review the associated Application Information Centre for a scheduling hearing and scan the Committee of Adjustment Decision Notice to determine if that application is ‘similar’ to your application.  Once you have located one or two similar situations, you need to obtain information from the TLAB Notice of Hearing to attend the hearing. 

To do this, locate the specific TLAB application on the Application Information Centre (AIC) website. The TLAB – Notice of Hearing file will include remote or in-person hearing information details. A TLAB hearing is open to the public and so any one can attend. When asked, advise the Chair that you are attending as a listener or observer. 

See Toronto Local Appeal Body – Scheduled Hearings & Decisions for helpful instructions on locating specific TLAB applications.

Prior to the hearing, review the documents on the Application Information Centre including Party, Participant and Expert Witness Statements so that you have a good understanding of the variances and the Applicant and Appellant positions before the hearing. 

Take notes of important points made and significant arguments. Try to predict what the Chair’s ruling will be and monitor the TLAB schedule from time to time awaiting the final Decision. Review the Decision outline for the rationale used by the Chair.

TLAB Audio

It is not always possible to attend representative hearings on specific dates or perhaps you learn about a similar application after-the-fact.  All TLAB hearings are recorded and the audio portion of the hearing can be requested. Again, listening to one or two similar recordings is a good TLAB learning experience.

A copy of a Digital Audio Recording of any proceeding can be requested by going to the TLAB Forms page. Select the Digital Audio Recording Request Form. Complete one form for each proceeding you are requesting. Complete the form and submit it to the TLAB office at ac.ot1669372950norot1669372950@BALT1669372950. It may be best to call the TLAB office with the case file number and hearing date to obtain their assistance in ordering an audio.

The normal method of delivery is via a temporary link to a downloadable version of the file. The link is active for about five days. There is a choice available on the form for CD or DVD but a fee is charged for these formats. 

The Webex audio is provided as an mp4 file. One day of a hearing would be about 500 MB. The earlier (pre-COVID) audio was a wma format and one day of a hearing would be about 50 MB. 

Warning:  The audio recording files are very large and can take a while to download to your computer depending on your connection speed.

As an example, we are providing a link to a one day hearing re: 16 Kenrae Rd., where Geoff Kettel is a party in a proceeding representing the Leaside Residents’ Association.

TLAB Articles

Wood Bull LLP article (Nov 9, 2017) on 10 Steps to the TLAB Hearing Process, including a visual summary of the process.

Advisors

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Association
Leaside Residents’ Association

Al Kivi
South Eglinton Davisville Residents’ Association


Virtual Meetings

Ontario has extended the ability of non-profits to hold virtual meetings until September 30, 2022, even if their constitutions prohibit them.