Planning Department

Table of Contents

End-to-End Review of the Development Review Process

In January, 2017, City Council directed City Staff to conduct an end to end development process review to report to the Planning and Growth Management Committee. The work would involve Planning and Building, in consultation with all Divisions involved in development review, and in conjunction with Information & Technology and Financial Planning staff.

On May 31, 2017, the Planning and Growth Management Committee made the decision to refer this review to the Chief Transformation Office with the request that he chair and lead a Steering Committee to conduct the review and that he ensure that the review process be holistic in nature and consider best practices for planning applications. A Work Plan was presented stating that an outside consultant would be retained to undertake the review and that it was expected that the final report would be presented at the March, 2018 meeting of the Planning and Growth Management Committee.

In 2018-2019, Gladki Planning Associates partnered with KPMG to conduct a comprehensive review of the City of Toronto’s development review process from beginning to end in order to identify bottlenecks and recommend improvements. The reviews involved both the Planning and Building Departments. The focus was to examine how the City could better handle applications related to rezonings, official plan amendments, site plan approvals and committee of adjustment approvals. The project included analysis of data and best practices from other municipalities. The final report focused on improvements to the pre-application period; the submission of the application; the circulation of the application to City departments; coordination of comments; the decision-making process; and the nature of agreements.

KPMG delivered the Final Report on Aug 16, 2019. The Executive Summary stated that this was a ‘transformational opportunity’ to a new operating model for its development review process. The new model anchors collaboration in a new vision for development review – one that aligns applicants, staff and the public around a shared purpose. The model presents system-level changes across three main layers: organization (how staff are organized), process (how workflow is structured) and accountability (how the end-to-end process is managed). The transformation requires four critical enables: modernized technology systems, enhanced project and practice management tools, rigorous training and development, as well as detailed implementation planning and change management.

The Final Report was presented at the Sept. 17, 2019 meeting of the Planning & Housing Committee. The Presentation summarizes the Recommendations:

  • Forming interdivisional teams that will be accountable for developing a cohensive City position on each application.
  • Enabling staff with project management tools, training and technology.
  • Establishing a standing forum for City divisions and external partners to identify, escalate and resolve application issues in a timely manner.
  • Assigning priority applications to enhanced, experienced teams with increased management oversight from senior City staff.
  • Appointing a lead to direct the multi-year, interdivisional effort to improve the City’s development review process and manage performance.
  • Implementing process-specific improvements to improve the customer experience for applicants; shift the culture towards open collaboration; and incorporate project management tools and mindset amongst applicants and City staff,
  • Pursuing opportunities to centralize certain specialized and/or repeatable tasks into dedicated, specialized units.
  • Continuing to modernize the City’s technology and information systems.

The FoNTRA submission on Sep 14, 2019, supported by the deputation at the Sept. 17, 2019 meeting, expressed concerns with the Review due to the lack of public and resident consultation along with the recommendation that the Planning and Housing Committee refer the End to End Review report back to staff with directions that staff ensure a comprehensive analysis including past City Council direction, and that public consultation be undertaken before coming back to the Committee.

A FoNTRA Working Document was attached detailing concerns related to Zoning By-law policy, Committee of Adjustment application intake and zoning review, Committee of Adjustment Hearings policy and procedures, Appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions to TLAB and Construction Regulation.

Committee of Adjustment issues were not dealt with at any level of detail in the Gladki/KPMG Final Report (see Page 80 of the Final Report). As stated in the report, “Our Committee of Adjustment-related findings are high-level and directional in nature. The improvement opportunities outlined below are meant as a starting point for further review and consideration by staff. While Committee of Adjustment applications (i.e., Minor Variances and Consents) were identified during initial scoping as a focus for in-depth review, they were not a major source of stakeholder feedback. Similarly, the major challenges identified by stakeholders were generally different than those facing other development application types (i.e., Official Plan Amendments, Zoning By-law Amendments and Site Plan Approvals). As a result, Committee of Adjustment applications were not included in the co-design workshops during the third phase of our engagement. Similarly, the Committee of Adjustment was not a focus of our jurisdictional research. The findings included in this section are based on our stakeholder engagement and document review. They were also reviewed with the Director and Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee of Adjustment. Across a number of issues, staff informed us that improvements are currently in progress, such as new approaches to streaming.”

Concept 2 Keys (C2K) Development Application Review Program

In response to the City’s End-to-End Review of its development review process and to support the implementation of the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan, City Council implemented a program called Concept 2 Keys (C2K) on Sept. 30, 2020, led by the Chief Operating Officer, Development.

C2K is to transform the City’s development review process from pre-application consultation to occupancy by reimagining organizational structures, processes and technology. The transformation of the City’s development review process will impact many City divisions and agencies as well as development applicants. For this reason, C2K is being implemented in phases. In support the City’s objective of meeting HousingTO Action Plan targets of 40,000 new affordable rental homes by 2030, Phase 1 of C2K is prioritizing affordable housing development applications.

The Report for Action provides a C2K Overview as well as C2K; initial work ramping up for a Pilot and the key changes to be incorporated in an Operational Pilot focused on affordable housing.

The C2K program presented a Q2 2021 Update report and a Presentation at the June 11, 2021 Planning and Housing Committee meeting. A supplemental report was prepared for the July 14 City Council meeting in response to questions posted at the June 11 Planning and Housing Committee meeting – the report provided additional site-specific information for each application being reviewed through Phase 1 of the C2K Program.

Specific accomplishments listed by the C2K Program for Phase 1 included:

  • Established four development application review teams to expedite affordable housing approvals.
  • Expedited 21 affordable housing projects with 2,269 new affordable housing units.
  • Reduced average circulation times from eight to three weeks.
  • Positive preliminary survey results from staff and applicants.

The objectives for Phase 2 were defined as:

  • Development application review teams will be established in Etobicoke-York in Q2 2021.
  • Geography provides variety of planning applications to test and refine team-based approach.
  • Objective is to test scalability of team-based approach and other process improvements.
  • Staff training and onboarding are underway. Initial results will be provided in the next quarterly report.

FoNTRA expressed their concern in their June 11, 2021 letter and in their comments at the meeting that there is a key concern that is not addressed. The Concept 2 Keys program focuses on reducing costs and increasing efficiency. But this singular focus is fundamentally flawed – as the City you exist to serve the public, not just customers, i.e. development applicants. What is missing is how the C2K process takes into account the concerns and interests of the public, and not just the applicant or stakeholders. The request was made that the C2K process reconsider how to ensure that resident concerns are properly taken into account.

The Planning and Housing Committee adopted the report without amendment on June 11 and it was adopted by City Council on July 14, 2021 without amendments and without debate.

Interim Results of the Priority Affordable Application Stream and Third Quarter Program Updates were adopted by the Planning and Housing Committee on October 18, 2021. The Report from Development and the Housing Secretariat details interim results of the Priority Affordable housing Application Stream as well as Third Quarter Program Updates.

The Planning and Housing Committee recommended that City Council direct the City Manager to transition the City-wide affordable housing priority application function from a pilot to a permanent service and report back to City Council in the first quarter of 2022 with a plan to expand the City-wide priority application stream.

The Report for Action dated Sept 30, 2021 prepared by Development and the Housing Secretariat was reviewed at the Nov. 9, 2021 City Council meeting. The report provided an update on Priority Application Stream focused on affordable housing and work undertaken by C2K over the last three months, highlighting upcoming deliverables. City Council directed the City Manager to transition the City wide affordable housing priority application function from a pilot to a permanent service and to report back in Q1 of 2022 on expanding the City-wide priority application stream.

The C2K program presented an update Report and an Attachment at the April 27, 2022, Planning and Housing Committee meeting.

Member Motion MM42.10 was approved by City Council on April 6, 2022, requesting that the City Manager report to each of the Planning and Housing Committee meetings with a Concept 2 Keys Dashboard which lists al, of the current Concept 2 Keys projects and their project status. The Attachment presents site-specific information for all affordable housing projects currently under review as part of the Priority Development Review Stream.

Contact Information

Please see Concept 2 Keys (C2K) – City of Toronto

Mandatory Pre-Application Consultation

Concept 2Keys (C2K) is changing how planning and development applications are reviewed at the City of Toronto be reimagining organizational structures, processes and technology.

On June 11, 2021 C2K and City Planning jointly brought forward a Proposals Report (with Attachment 1 and Attachment 2) to the Planning and Housing Committee to introduce potential amendments to the Official Plan and Municipal Code regarding mandatory pre-application consultation.

A recommendation of the End-to-End Review study was that the City “standardize a formal internal and external meeting cadence and project schedule to enhance cooperation and customer service” beginning with pre-application consultation. The intent of the Official Plan Amendment is to establish the mandatory requirement for pre-application consultation as a prerequisite to the submission of a planning application for Official Plan Amendments, Zoning By-law Amendments, Draft Plan of Subdivision and/or Site Plan Control. Administrative details and implementation will then be set out in a pre-application consultation by-law to be incorporated into Chapter 415 of the Municipal Code.

Today, pre-application consultation is voluntary for development applications. Making pre-application consultation mandatory provides an opportunity to improve and formalize an already well-used practice to support timely review of an application.

The City has stated the change to mandatory pre-application consultation with City staff will not impact the current practice where development applicants are encouraged to consult with local communities and the Ward Councillor prior to the submission of a formal development application. FoNTRA spoke to their letter at the June 11 Planning and Housing Committee conveying their strong support for mandatory pre-application consultation as this will help make the application approval process more efficient for all involved. However, they noted that the report only ‘encourages’ input from affected citizens, who can provide valuable information about the context and impacts of an application. FoNTRA recommended that mandatory pre-consultations should also be extended to the public and affected communities.

BiLD also expressed their support for this review and their working group has submitted preliminary comments on additional refinements that must accompany a mandatory process.

The legislative and policy definitions for requiring pre-application along with operational improvements needed to support implementation are expected to result in a city-wide roll-out of mandatory pre-application consultation in 2022, following a potential transition period once the Official Plan Amendment comes into effect.

City staff were directed by the Planning and Housing Committee to undertake stakeholder and public consultations on this proposal and to report back with a final report in the fourth quarter of 2021 to the Planning and Housing Committee. It was also requested that the Terms of Reference for the Planning Rationale Report be modified to require that applications containing residential uses contain an analysis of how the application will address and provide affordable rental or ownership housing; also include direction that the applicant as part of the pre-application process discuss affordable housing and how the application will address City policies related to providing a full range of housing.

On September 14, 2021 the City of Toronto hosted a public Open House to update the public on the process for the proposed Official Plan Amendment (Section 5.5) and bylaw (Chapter 415 of the Municipal Code), answer questions, and received feedback from the public. Over 55 participants joined the virtual meeting. Following opening remarks and housekeeping by Gladki Planning Associates, Michelle Drylie spoke on behalf of the project team.

Her presentation provided an overview of existing pre-application consultation practices, the legislative and policy context of the proposed changes and the objectives, scope, considerations for implementation and timeline of the proposed Official Plan Amendment and bylaw. Gladki Planning Associates prepared a Summary of the Open House Questions and Answers grouped under PAC Process, Development Interest, Data, Public and Councillor Engagement.

A Workshop was also arranged for FoNTRA RA Members on October 14, 2021.

In December, Planning advised that the materials related to the OPA and Municipal by-law were available on the C2K website. On December 23, 2021 a Notice of Public Meeting was distributed advising of a statutory meeting at the Planning and Housing Committee meeting on January 12, 2022.

On January 12, 2022, the Planning and Housing Committee considered the Final Report. The Report recommended adoption of the proposed Official Plan Amendment and an amendment to Chapter 415 of the Toronto Municipal Code to establish the legislative and policy basis for requiring pre-application consultation with an effective date of November 1, 2022.

A specific Recommendation directed Planning to include consultation with Councillor’s Offices, Business Improvement Areas, Residents Associations, Tenants Associations and other affected and immediate stakeholders in the Pre-Application Checklist.

The Planning and Housing Committee requested that Planning report directly to City Council on the matters raised in the public presentation from Building Industry and Land Development (BILD) regarding implementation of the process.

The FoNTRA submission repeated its statement of strong support for mandatory pre-application consultation as this will help make the application approval process more efficient for all involved. FoNTRA repeated their request to the Planning and Housing Committee in June 2021 that mandatory pre-consultations be extended to the public and affected communities. At a minimum, the pre-application consultation should include mandatory notification of affected Residents’ Associations.

The item was adopted with amendments by the Planning and Housing Committee on January 12, 2022.

A Supplementary Report was included in the Agenda released on January 28, 2022, for the City Council meeting on February 2, 2022, addressing the questions raised by BILD at the January 12, 2022, Planning and Housing Committee meeting.

The Recommendations and the Supplementary Report were adopted by City Council on February 2, 2022.

To allow for an adequate transition period that supports testing and implementation of improved pre-application consultation procedures, and alignment with other implementation considerations (e.g., a potential fee), the Code Amendment includes a future effective date of November 1, 2022.

On April 27, 2022, Planning presented a Report to the Planning and Housing Committee. The Official Plan Amendment came into full force and effect on March 8, 2022; those policy directions will be implemented through the Municipal Code Amendment which has an effective date of November 1, 2022. While administrative and technology improvements were reported to be on track for a November 1, 2022, effective date, Planning reported that “ongoing consultations with staff and the development industry, and recent Council direction to “improve the continuity of service delivery as a core principle of the operating model,” cause a need to ask for an extended transition period to support operational readiness and consistent customer service city-wide, particularly in regards to staffing. For this reason, staff are recommending the Municipal Code Amendment effective date be amended to April 3, 2023.” The motion was adopted without amendment by the Planning and Housing Committee and will be considered by City Council on May 11, 2022.

Contact Information

Please see City of Toronto Concept 2 Keys (C2K)

Planning Study Work Program

City Planning presents to the Planning and Housing Committee an annual update on its Study Work Program. The Study Work Program is one component of the City Building and Policy Development services. The Study Work Program captures a range of city building initiatives including area studies and Secondary Plans, Transportation Master Plans, Heritage Conservation Districts, city-wide urban design guidelines, Official Plan review and responses to changes in Provincial legislation. Other activities address local geographies such as waterfront revitalization, community service and facilities strategies, area-specific urban design guidelines, or work related to green design standards, and monitoring growth and demographics.

New initiatives are added to the Study Work Program either through requests from City Council or as identified in response to new strategic priorities, public investment, growth pressures, shifts in demographic and economic conditions or legislative changes.

Planning tracks an item as “complete” when it has achieved a major public milestone, usually a report to City Council via one of its Committees or Community Council.

Visit Planning Studies to review a list of all Active Studies with links to further information on each of those projects. 

The latest review by the Planning and Housing Committee was on January 12, 2022. The Report for Action for the Study Work Program Update was presented including:

Attachment 1: City Planning Study Work Program (2021) with status updates
Attachment 2: City Planning Study Work Program (2022 Forecast)
Attachment 3: City Planning Study Work Program (Beyond 2022 and Hold Items) 

For 2022, the Study Work Program deals with the City’s Corporate Strategic Plan’s 4 Strategic Priorities:

  • Affordable Housing and More Options
  • Keeping Toronto Moving
  • Investing in people and neighbourhoods
  • Taking Action on Climate Change and Building Resilience

The Planning and Housing Committee considered the report and it was adopted with an amendment directing Planning to continue the work but report back at the April 27, 2022 meeting of the Planning and Housing Committee on additional initiatives including Save Main Street and Small Businesses, the Downtown East Action Plan, Cultural Districts, and Ontario Line impacts.