Committee of Adjustment
Committee of Adjustment Panels
The Committee of Adjustment (CofA) is a quasi-judicial City of Toronto body comprised of 35 citizen members appointed by City Council. It mainly considers minor variances related to municipal zoning bylaws and grants consents required by the Planning Act.
For information on the review and approvals process, download Getting to Know the City of Toronto Committee of Adjustment brochure and the Committee of Adjustment Rules of Procedure.
The Committee is divided into smaller panels and is administered out of four districts. Each panel generally consists of five members, though can be three or four members, including a chairperson. They regularly hold public hearings to consider applications for minor variances, permissions and consents.
Additional information about each panel – contact information and Meeting Schedule is available on the City of Toronto Committee of Adjustment website. Links are provided from that webpage to additional material on types of applications, review procedures, virtual meetings, and application requirements.
Committee of Adjustment Hearings
Hearings are generally held every two weeks but a detailed schedule is available by Panel for the calendar year on the Committee of Adjustment webpage. To automatically receive an email 10 business days in advance of the Committee of Adjustment hearings with the list of applications to be heard, you should REGISTER to receive the Notices.
For your district (Toronto East York, North York, Scarborough or Etobicoke York), go to the City of Toronto Committee of Adjustment webpage and email the Manager of your District (in the right hand column) asking that your Association be added to the list to receive emailed Agendas for the CofA hearings.
By Provincial Legislation, the CofA is required by law to give Notice of a hearing to adjacent property owners 10 days before the hearing date but the City has mandated that the four panels should issue the Notices 20 calendar days in advance. The Panel is to update the website with the Decisions within 7 calendar days after the Hearing.
Committee of Adjustment hearings were cancelled as of March 17, 2020 due to COVID-19 but Virtual meetings commenced as of June 23, 2020. The Committee has been instructed by City Council to speed up processing to deal with applications generally within 30 days of receipt. Where Hearings used to be held every two weeks, they are often scheduling hearings every week and sometimes two days in the week.
There are three ways to participate in Virtual Public Hearings:
- Submit written comments in PDF format via email.
- Join a Webex virtual meeting.
- Follow along live on YouTube or watch the recorded meeting at a later date. Watch on the Toronto City Planning YouTube Channel.
The rules for Virtual meetings also establish setback dates by which a concerned neighbour has to submit their opinion (5 business days prior to the actual hearing). They must also Register to speak at the Hearing 2 days in advance. The process and the deadline dates are detailed in the Notice of Meeting documents. All this makes it more difficult for Residents’ Associations and concerned neighbours to review and respond to the applications. At some of the hearings, registered speakers were never allowed to speak. FoNTRA and their member Residents’ Associations are very concerned about public participation being seriously hampered by these arrangements.
Guides/assistance for 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 this tribunal review process. We thank all of the organizations that have allowed us to reproduce and share their knowledge and expertise. Individual RAs have developed processes to help their neighbours understand and deal with CofA applications. Go to Operations & Practices: Dealing with CofA applications to learn more.
Application Information Centre (AIC)
The Agenda provided in the Notice of a Hearing will link to the Application Information Centre (AIC) for each application – you need to access the AIC to view, download or print the documents. The most important documents will be the Notice which lists the specific variances that are being requested as well as the one labelled Plans – it will show all floors/all measurements/placement of the driveway/HVAC location/deck and walk-out measurements, etc.
For further instructions and guidance on how to work with the AIC, go to the Resources page for Tips for the Residents’ Association.
FoNTRA Issues with the CofA
FoNTRA has, over several years, been engaged in discussing concerns about the current processes with City Planning staff focused on the Committee of Adjustment, TLAB and LPAT (now OLT).
On Sept 17, 2019 the Planning and Housing Committee reviewed the Report for Action and the Presentation on End-to-End Review of the Development Review Process. The Next Step was defined as creating a dedicated Implementation Team led by the Director of Business Transformation to lead a multi-year, interdivisional effort to transform the City’s development review process and the management structures and practices in place to support the process by end of Q4, 2019.
FoNTRA submitted their comments on Sept.14, 2019 concerning the fact that ‘public consultation’ did not involve the public and/or residents who are impacted by the development being reviewed and who pay for the processes that are being reviewed. It was also noted that the End-to End-Review should also include directions regarding reporting back on the review of the Committee of Adjustment and related processes as directed by the Executive Committee at its June 19, 2018 meeting and the review of the feasibility of CofA hearings commencing at 1 p.m. with proceedings to continue into evening hours, to improve accessibility for residents. FoNTRA recommended that the Planning and Housing Committee refer the End-to-End-Review report back to staff with direction that staff ensure a comprehensive analysis including past City Council direction, and that public consultation be undertaken before coming back to Committee.
Committee of Adjustment Applications Analyses and Service Improvements were discussed as Item PH11.14 at the Planning and Housing Committee on November 21, 2019. The Report for Action was presented. The recommendations adopted by the PHC with amendments were adopted by City Council on December 17, 2019 without amendments.
FoNTRA submitted a letter accompanied by a document of Committee of Adjustment Applications Analysis and Services Improvement with FoNTRA Annotations as well as a FoNTRA Working Document on “Minor” Residential Planning and Development Decision-Making in Toronto. It was recognized that some process improvements, including efforts to standardize procedures across the districts, have been accomplished but the overall question remains – are the outcomes intended by the Official Plan being met? The need is for a comprehensive “end to end” review of “minor land use planning” which involves both City Planning and Toronto Building Divisions – not just the Committee of Adjustment. FoNTRA recommended that the review recommended by the Special Committee on Governance be undertaken “in partnership with a post-secondary institution” be a comprehensive End to End Review focused on outcomes (as referenced in the FoNTRA Report) and that residents be consulted in the review. Detailed comments and suggestions to increase the ability of residents to engage in the process were also provided.
An Update on Committee of Adjustment Virtual Public Hearings was heard by the Planning and Housing Committee on April 22, 2021.
In their April 21, 2021 letter, FoNTRA stated that the report responds to City Council direction and requests related to the COVID related matters which focus on four operational matters: application volume; staffing and panel member capacity; notification improvements, and participation at virtual public hearings. “The Report’s basic message is all about efficiency in handling volume, not about making decisions that are fair, that are based on input from neighbours, and that respect and maintain the neighbourhood character. The Report does not address the underlying issues with the Committee of Adjustment that residents have been continually raising for years.”
A number of motions were approved including “retaining a consultant” but no specific timelines were defined for any of the directives.
A Status Update was provided at the Planning and Housing Committee on November 24, 2021 advising that discussions have been held with the consultant retained for the End-to-End Review. A proposed work plan has been scoped-out. It is expected that when retained, the consultant can complete the work by the end of Q1 of 2022 and staff will be in a position to report soon after.
In their Nov. 24, 2021 letter, FoNTRA reminded staff that the report was requested due to concerns expressed by many residents over multiple issues – these concerns were a key driver behind the Council direction for a review of the Committee of Adjustment. Despite this, the report does not speak to the community engagement that will be undertaken. FonTRA asked that this key expectation be communicated to the consultant.
In Spring, 2021, City Council directed that the City Planning retain a consultant to conduct a review of the Committee of Adjustment to identify recommendations to improve the effective participation of both the public and applicants in the public hearing process, among other related topics. KPMG has been retained to carry out the review.
Stakeholder engagement is a critical part of this work. The resident organizations are important stakeholders. This is an opportunity to provide input on current challenges and ways to improve the process. To this end, KPMG is facilitated two 90-minute virtual sessions to identify strengths, pain points and improvement opportunities in June, 2022.
Residents’ Survey – Fairness at the Committee of Adjustment
In addition to the two virtual meetings on June 2 and 13, FoNTRA decided to conduct a survey of residents’ organizations and residents with experience in dealing with the CofA, in order to have a strong basis for comments.
The experience survey is modified from an approach described by the office of the Ombudsperson, B.C. Ombudsman offices across Canada routinely review the operations of administrative tribunals, like the CofA, using the lens of procedural fairness. We used a simple checklist approach using a questionnaire format that asks 20 questions related to procedural fairness. We have adapted the published approach for this Toronto CofA survey.
The target respondents for this questionnaire were residents or advocates that have appeared in opposition at one or more CofA hearings over the last five years.
The survey closed on May 31, 2022, with 112 respondents. The results have been tabulated and summarized. On the whole, respondents seemed to feel that the Committee of Adjustment process was not impartial, that the panels did not provide sufficiently clear and meaningful reasons for their decisions, that decisions were often not made in accordance with applicable laws, rules and policies, that decisions did not reflect the evidence provided by all parties and that the panels were not applying the four planning tests in order to determine the planning merit of the proposed application. In short, the responses indicated a high level of dissatisfaction with the process, and many respondents felt that it is very biased in favour of developers, with panel members often having made up their minds before hearing any evidence.
C of A Feedback – further submissions
In addition to the two virtual sessions for residents’ associations held in June, 2022, KPMG requested that any written feedback from residents’ associations be submitted by June 30, 2022. FoNTRA has prepared two documents:
- Committee of Adjustment Issues List
- Four Hearings and a Scorecard
FoNTRA members South Eglinton Residents’ Association, South Armour Heights Residents’ Association and Don Mills Residents Inc. have also prepared submissions.
CofA Information and Data
Toronto and East York
Toronto City Hall Ground Floor, West Tower
100 Queen Street West Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
North York Civic Centre Ground Floor
5100 Yonge Street Toronto, ON M2N 5V7
Etobicoke Civic Centre 4th Floor
2 Civic Centre Court Toronto, ON M9C 5A3
Scarborough Civic Centre 3rd Floor
150 Borough Drive Toronto, ON M1P 4N7
On March 29, 2017, City Council passed Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 142 creating the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) with an effective date of May 3, 2017. An appeal of a Consent and/or Minor Variance application appeal will no longer be adjudicated at the Ontario Municipal Board/Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) / now called the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). Toronto has set up its own appeal body.
Starting May 3, 2017, appeals for Minor Variances and Consents from the Committee of Adjustment go to the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB). Procedure By-law 1-2017 governs the calling, place and proceedings of business meetings and public consultation meetings.
There are many legislative documents (Bills, Acts, Plans, and Reports) at both the Provincial and City of Toronto levels that define the powers, processes, and guiding legislation for dealing with land use matters. Review the List of Public Documents for a complete list of Provincial and City of Toronto Public Documents as well as Governing Legislation. Please note: as of this writing, the link to the Provincial Policy Statement (2014) in the list is outdated. Please refer to the 2020 Provincial Policy Statement instead.
The Public Guide provides information about the TLAB and its processes. For information about how to appeal a decision from the Committee of Adjustment, or for a general overview of the TLAB, this guide is a good place to start.
Review the Revised Rules of Practice and Procedure (PDF) as adopted by the Toronto Local Appeal Body, pursuant to the Statutory Powers Procedure Act to understand the process, timing, rules, requirements and forms. These Rules apply to all proceedings brought before the Toronto Local Appeal Body subsequent to December 2, 2020 or later.
Obtain information on the TLAB Schedule or review documents filed for an Appeal.
Once an Appeal has been scheduled, a Notice of Hearing will be published. It sets the date, time, location, and length of hearing. It also defines specific dates within a 45 day period from the Notice Date for the submission of the required Forms.
TLAB Annual Reports
The Court Services Division submits an Annual Report, prepared by the Chair of TLAB, to the Planning and Housing Committee and City Council, generally in May of each year. The Report covers activities from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of the previous year.
The annual report includes the following sections: Chair’s Opening Remarks, Panel Member Biographies, TLAB Milestones, Key Principles of TLAB, the TLAB appeal process, business meetings and external consultations, performance metrics and summary statistics, practice directions and going forward recommendations.
FoNTRA submitted a Letter to the June 8, 2021 City Council meeting expressing concerns that the rules and procedures are complex and there is wide disparity in decision outcomes compared with CofA decisions. A recommendation was put forward asking for review of TLAB’s operations relative to its original intent, with public engagement, with a view to simplifying the hearing process, removing barriers to resident participation, and reducing cost of operations.
Motions were approved by City Council on June 8, 2021 as follows:
- Report to Planning and Housing Committee by Q1 2022 on amending the Fees, Licences and Charges By-law to incorporate a ‘Toronto Local Appeal Body Review Request Fee’.
- Report back through the 2022 Budget process on the financial implications of amending the decision writing stipend from $200 per decision to a varied rate with a maximum of $400.
- To report to Planning and Housing Committee by Q1 2022 on the feasibility of:
- Extending compensation to the Chair and Vice-Chair for hearing time in Review Requests
- The Chair, TLAB to be included in the preparation of the annual TLAB tribunal budget in consultation with Court Services
- Review TLAB’s operations relative to its original intent, with public engagement, with the intended outcome of simplifying the hearing process and increasing public participation
The TLAB 2019 Annual Report from the Chair was adopted by Council on July 28 and 29, 2020.
FoNTRA submitted a Letter on July 23, 2020 to City Council meeting expressing concerns that the (1) the time to deal with appeals has greatly increased and this means increased workload for all involved (2) the rules and procedures are increasingly complex which result in increased workload for adjudicators and staff and (3) wide disparity in decision outcomes compared with CofA decisions. A recommendation was put forward asking for review of TLAB’s operations relative to its original intent, with public engagement, with a view to simplifying the hearing process, removing barriers to resident participation, and reducing cost of operations.
- The 2018 Annual Report from the Chair of the Toronto Local Appeal Body was adopted by Council on May 14, 2019.
- The 2017 Annual Report from the Chair of the Toronto Local Appeal Body was adopted by Council on June 26, 27, 28 and 29, 2018.
TLAB Business Meetings
The Toronto Local Appeal Body holds 4 to 5 business meetings each year. The business meetings are open to the public. Agendas are posted seven calendar days in advance of the meeting date. Minutes of the business meetings are available as well.
In 2021, meetings were held on Feb 10, 2021 and May 7, 2021.
FoNTRA submitted a Letter on Feb 7, 2021 requesting that the following items be discussed at the Feb 10, 2021 Business Meeting:
- Awaiting the Chair’s response to FoNTRA’s letter on Sept 19, 2020 regarding the 2019 Annual Report suggesting that the TLAB Annual Report be formally received and approved at a Business Meeting. A request was also made that the Minutes of the Business Meetings be posted on the TLAB website.
- Recommending that the evaluation process should consider all sides of the appeal process (appellant representative, City staff, residents/resident associations) and that the evaluation process should include representatives of all interested parties other than TLAB Members, such as members of the public.
FoNTRA and Annex Residents’ Association Communications were discussed at the May 7, 2021 meeting. The response from the Chair to FoNTRA’s July 23, 2020 letter re TLAB’s 2019 Annual Report is included in the supporting material to the agenda along with the response to TLAB’s Feb 25, 2021 letter by the Annex Residents’ Association. Rita Bilerman, Chair, ARA spoke to their letter.
TLAB organized the TLAB Public Business Meeting for November 16, 2021 to be a TLAB Panel Training and Education session held In Camera, as permitted by TLAB’s Procedural By-law 1-2017. FoNTRA’s letter of Nov. 15, 2021 commends TLAB in its efforts to promote and enhance public understanding and education regarding its mandate and role in the City’s Land Use Planning system. As justice for Self-Represented Parties is a particular concern for tribunals, FoNTRA encouraged TLAB to also address this matter in their Panel training and development program. FoNTRA also requested:
- That the presentation material from City Planning and Urban Forestry for TLAB training be made publicly available, and
- That video segments of their presentations be made available on YouTube or other accessible video media.
Items of discussions at the December 10, 2021, TLAB Business Meeting included Public Guide Revisions and TLAB Rules Principles. FoNTRA submitted comments on the Public Guide Revisions in their December 9, 2021 letter. FoNTRA views the Public Guide as an important contribution to public education especially as it related to self-represented parties and/or parties appearing for the first time at TLAB. It was suggested that perhaps in the new year TLAB might consider hosting an open session for the public to walk through the changes and gather feedback on more ideas for the next edition of the Public Guide. FoNTRA stated that it was helpful to see TLAB Rules Principles published and once approved, suggested that the Rules be made available on the public website.
Toronto Local Appeal Body
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Second Floor, Suite 211
Toronto ON M4B 1R9
Hours: Mondays to Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.