Update on Committee of Adjustment Virtual Public Hearings

10th floor, West Tower, City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Attention: Nancy Martins
Email: ac.ot1713907814norot1713907814@chp1713907814

RE: PH22.7 Update on Committee of Adjustment Virtual Public Hearings 

Dear Chair Ana Bailão and Members of Planning and Housing Committee,

The Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations (FoNTRA) is a non-profit, volunteer organization comprised of over 30 member associations in Midtown, North Toronto, and North York. FoNTRA has been active in bringing forward the concerns of residents across the area about the Committee of Adjustment, and interrelated processes in residential infill, such as neighbourhood planning guidelines, zoning review, TLAB appeals, and construction issues.

The Report responds to City Council direction and requests related to the COVID related measures taken by City Planning in the past year, which focus on four operational matters: application volume; staffing and panel member capacity; public 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 neighbourhood character. 

The Report does not address the underlying issues with the Committee of Adjustment that residents have been continually raising for years.  The measures taken, while intended to maintain “customer service” for applicants, do nothing to address quality and procedural issues, which judging from some data appear to be getting worse. Residents have an active interest in good planning of our City, one which ensures that the process is open, transparent and fair, and accessible to become engaged and participate at all stages. 

We recommend that the Committee request City Council to:

  • Direct the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, and the Chief Building Official to conduct a public review of the Committee of Adjustment including establishment of an advisory committee, and public engagement and to include the following:
    • Investigate and address residents’ concerns with the current processes;
    • Consider alternatives to the Committee of Adjustment process for minor variances and severances
    • Review and revise the Committee of Adjustment processes based on tribunal best practices, and quality assurance review practices
    • Education and training of Members (both procedures and substance of the Committee mandate).

Respectfully submitted,

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cathie Macdonald
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cc: Mayor John Tory,
Councillor Jaye Robinson,  
Tracey Cook, Deputy City Manager, Infrastructure and Development Services 
Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning Division
Will Johnston, Chief Building Official
Michael Mizzi, Director, Zoning and Committee of Adjustment