Ready, Set, Midtown: Zoning Review Status Report

10th floor, West Tower, City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Attention: Nancy Martins

RE: PH29.11 – Ready, Set, Midtown: Zoning Review – Status Report

Dear Deputy Mayor Ana Bailao, Chair and Members, Planning and Housing Committee

FoNTRA is in general support of the recommendations for the Midtown Zoning Review and specifically, that:

  • the Chief Planner consider feedback obtained to-date from the public and key stakeholders in a preparation of the draft Zoning By-law and to undertake further consultation.
  • the City Planning Division to report back in the second quarter of 2022 with a recommended Zoning By-law.

We support the statement that “the Secondary Plan provides a framework for establishing a complete community in Midtown that supports overall quality of life for people of all ages, abilities, and incomes. This will be achieved through improved access to a range of mobility options, community service facilities, local stores, services and employment, housing including affordable housing, an attractive and vibrant public realm and publicly accessible parks, open spaces and recreational facilities.” 

And we welcome the stated objective of the updated Zoning By-law “ to support complete and inclusive Midtown communities”.

We appreciate the development of a “zoning framework” and the three areas of work that must be completed to achieve an updated Zoning By-law for this area. We understand that the review team has to contend with many challenges such as the various existing City By-laws, hundreds of site-specific exceptions, and now the requirement for conformity with OPA 405.

The report mentions that there were an estimated 62,000 residents in 2016 on the Yonge-Eglinton (Y-E) Secondary Plan area and based on the estimated build out of the Secondary Plan would increase to an estimated 156,000 residents, a 150% increase. It also mentions that this increase is being evaluated as part of the Midtown Infrastructure Implementation Strategy (MIIS).

Our concern is how the Zoning By-law regulations will intersect with the MIIS and depending on that, whether the real life impacts of the infrastructure assessment will need to be reflected in the Zoning By-law, and the process to accomplish that.

There are two aspects that need to be considered:

First, the distribution of the current and future population in midtown is concentrated in a number of compact neighbourhoods such as the Soudan, Roehampton-Broadway-Erskine, and Davisville apartment neighbourhoods, immediately adjacent to Midtown Cores. OPA 405 is directing the majority of the projected growth to these areas. As an example, the Soudan apartment neighbourhood is only 0.225 sq. km., and according to the 2016 (census) housed 6,600 residents. Based on currently submitted applications it is projected to grow to 18,000 residents, which amounts to growth of 270% and a density of 80,000 residents/ Similarly, the Davisville apartment neighbourhood (9000 residents in 2016) is projected to grow to 20,000 residents (also approx. 0.225 sq. km.…89,000 residents/sq. km.).

As per OPA 405 more applications are permitted in or immediately adjacent to these areas.

Second, these apartment areas are currently deficient in all aspects of a Complete Community (i.e. schools, parks, public realm, recreational facilities, social services) and there is a lack of available land to accommodate these infrastructure elements.

Unless dramatic action is taken, such as requested by the Midtown community for the City owned Canada Square site, the goal of providing for a Complete Community in midtown is not a physical reality. The question is whether the Zoning By-law will include placeholders to ensure there are opportunities to accommodate MIIS requirements once they are determined (community services, facilities, amenities, parks, etc.) with the stated objective of achieving complete communities?

Yours truly,

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cathie Macdonald
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cc:  Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning Division
Matt Armstrong, Senior Planner, Strategic Initiatives, Policy & Analysis, City Planning Division