Canada: City Of Toronto's 5 Year Review And Update Process Of Official Plan Starts In 2011

Last Updated: October 18 2011
Article by Mark Piel

This fall, the City of Toronto will begin its mandatory 5 year review and update of the City of Toronto Official Plan (the "Official Plan"). This newsletter update will provide stakeholders with information regarding statutory requirements for this process, information regarding timing and the scope of the review and update, and, finally, rights of appeal regarding employment lands policies will be discussed.

What Does the Planning Act Require?

Under the Planning Act, the City is required to begin its Official Plan update process no later than the fifth anniversary of the coming into effect of its Official Plan. Although the Official Plan was adopted by City Council in 2002, appeals of the Official Plan to the Ontario Municipal Board meant the Official Plan was not in effect until 2006. Some policies are still the subject of appeals but the majority of the Official Plan is now in effect by order of the Board.

Generally speaking, the City has broad discretion to examine and revise any aspect of its Official Plan, however, under the Planning Act certain matters must be addressed. Pursuant to subsection 26(1) of the Planning Act, the City must revise its Official Plan to ensure that:

  • It conforms with provincial plans, including the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (the "Growth Plan"), the Rouge Plan, the Green Belt Plan and Metrolinx' Regional Transportation Plan, or does not conflict with them, as the case may be;
  • It has regard to matters of provincial interest under the Planning Act;
  • It is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement 2005; and
  • With respect to existing policies regarding areas of employment, including the designation of areas of employment and policies dealing with the removal of land from areas of employment, those policies are "confirmed or amended" (collectively referred to as the "conformity requirements").

"Revisions" are amendments which result in conformity with a provincial plan and satisfy both the "conformity requirements" and procedural requirements of a 5 year review and update process.

The 5 year review and update process comes with its own public consultation requirements. Before any "revisions" may be made, the Planning Act requires City Council to hold a special public meeting and, pursuant to subsection 26(5) of the Planning Act, City Council "shall have regard to any written submissions about what revisions may be required and shall give any person who attends the special meeting an opportunity to be heard on that subject".

City Planning Staff have their work cut out for them; the expectation is City Council will vote on amendment recommendations by the end of 2012.

Scope of 5 Year Review and Update Process

A City Planning Staff Report delivered to the Planning and Growth Management Committee (the "PGMC") earlier this year identified key implementation goals, policies of the Official Plan which require revisions, and indicated that a concurrent study of employment lands conversion issues would be carried out.

As a part of the 5 year review and update process, City Council has directed City Planning Staff to use this opportunity to implement key elements of the City's Avenues and Mid‐rise Buildings Study, elements of the City's Tower Renewal Program, policies that encourage the development of residential units for households with children in the downtown, and elements of the City's Climate Change Plan and Sustainable Energy Program. PGMC has also requested that mixed use developments require a minimum of mix of various types of development and the rezoning of community plazas or retail centres to require the retention of a similar amount and type of retail and commercial space on site.

Other planned revisions of note include rewriting existing policies regarding the preservation of heritage properties to reflect powers the City has under the Ontario Heritage Act which was passed into law in 2005.

Finally, City Planning Staff will also conduct a Municipal Comprehensive Review ("MCR") concurrently with the 5 year review and update process. The Growth Plan states the City can permit the conversion of employment lands to non‐employment uses only through an MCR and where it can be shown the City will meet the Province's employment forecasts, there is need for the conversion, the conversion will not adversely affect the viability of an Official employment area, infrastructure is in place to support and conversion and the lands in question are not needed in the long‐term for employment uses.

Employment Lands and Appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board

The City's decision to proceed with a concurrent MCR is no doubt related to its review of employment lands policies in the Official Plan. Official Plan policies 4.6.3 and 4.6.4 deal with the "removal of land" from areas of employment for the purposes of large‐scale and stand‐alone retail stores by way of amendments to the zoning bylaw and the Official Plan. As a part of the 5 year review and update process, the City Council must "amend or confirm" these existing policies. If City Council amends those policies that decision provides stakeholders with an opportunity to file an appeal where no right of appeal would otherwise lie.

For example, a landowner may consider a privately‐initiated development proposal on lands currently identified in the Official Plan as an Employment Area, however, pursuing that proposal by filing an Official Plan amendment application comes with considerable risk; the Planning Act does not provide an appeal right from a refusal decision of council in those cases. Municipalities have not been shy to refuse these types of privately‐initiated applications on the basis that the existing stock of employment lands is required to meet growth targets under the Growth Plan.

The 5 year update process therefore provides a window of opportunity to bring conversion of employment lands matters to the Board that otherwise would be statute‐barred. If a landowner disagrees with City Council's amendments to policies 4.6.3 and/or 4.6.4 or such other employment policies, the landowner may appeal those amendments provided they made oral submissions at a public meeting or written submissions to council before the amendment was adopted. An appeal may challenge any aspect of the amendment made by City Council and may include the presentation of policy alternatives for areas of employment. Those alternatives may include the merits behind an otherwise appeal‐barred privately‐initiated amendment about which evidence can be submitted to the Board and final arguments made on those submissions. Appellants should take note the City's MCR will likely provide it with ample policy studies and rationale against the conversion of these lands but the 5 year review and update process looks to be the only opportunity over the next 5 years to argue the merits of those studies before the Board.

About Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (FMC)

FMC is one of Canada's leading business and litigation law firms with more than 500 lawyers in six full-service offices located in the country's key business centres. We focus on providing outstanding service and value to our clients, and we strive to excel as a workplace of choice for our people. Regardless of where you choose to do business in Canada, our strong team of professionals possess knowledge and expertise on regional, national and cross-border matters. FMC's well-earned reputation for consistently delivering the highest quality legal services and counsel to our clients is complemented by an ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion to broaden our insight and perspective on our clients' needs. Visit:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
25 Nov 2016, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

On Thursday, September 22, 2016, Dentons hosted a panel discussion about the management of liabilities and risks associated with environmental crises, including potential liabilities for directors and officers and provided insight into risk and liability techniques associated with environmental crisis management.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.