Canada: Toronto Passes New City-Wide Zoning By-Law / Update On Toronto Official Plan 5-Year Review - New Employment Policies

Toronto's New City-wide Zoning By-law

Toronto City Council passed the new City-wide Zoning By-law on May 9, 2013.

The City is required by the Planning Act to give notice of the passing of the By-law, not later than 15 days after its passage. The notice of passing will start the clock on the statutory appeal period of 20 days within which persons or public bodies, who, before the By-law was passed, made oral submissions at a public meeting or written submissions to the Council. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is also entitled to file an appeal.

After the expiry of the appeal period, it will take staff some time to review the appeals to determine which appeals may lead to a negotiated settlement. Staff will also need to consider how best to organize the more complicated appeals with the goal of streamlining the eventual Ontario Municipal Board hearing process. We expect that this will keep City staff and their lawyers busy for quite some time.

Many submissions were made to the City during the consultation and statutory meetings and it is difficult to predict if the number and substance of the appeals will be much different from the 694 appeals filed against the City's first attempt at a consolidated Zoning By-law, By-law 1156-2010, which was subsequently repealed.

In the meantime, until such time as the appeals of the new Zoning By-law have been resolved, complete applications for building permits and various planning approvals not filed before the new Zoning By-law was passed, will be reviewed by City staff for compliance with both the former and the new Zoning By-law provisions. For zoning compliance purposes, the most restrictive provisions between the two By-laws will apply.

At some point, City staff will also turn their minds to proposed amendments to the new Zoning By-law to fill in the various "holes" on the zoning maps where the zoning of properties under the current pre-amalgamation zoning by-laws will prevail. The process to bring these excluded sites into the new Zoning By-law will be a public process with statutory rights of appeal.

Further Reporting on New Employment Policies and Conversion Requests and Consultation under the Toronto Official Plan 5-year Review

As directed by City Council, City staff initiated consultation on the proposed new Employment policies in January based on the directions of the  October 23, 2012 staff report entitled: "Planning for a Strong and Diverse Economy: Official Plan/Municipal Comprehensive Reviews-Draft Policies and Designations for Employment" on proposed changes to Official Plan policies and designations.

After a long period of stakeholder consultation, two new staff reports dated April 23, 2013 are scheduled to be considered by the Planning and Growth Management Committee on May 16, 2013.

The first  report contains the City's preliminary assessments of a further 36 of the approximately 120 requests received to date to convert lands from an Employment designation to another designation or to add site-specific policies to permit additional non-employment uses on a property. The requests were considered by City staff against the conversion criteria in Section of the provincial Growth Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement.

The second  report details the consultations undertaken on the draft policies and designations and changes to the recommended policy directions. Consultation to date has been on the basis of splitting the existing single designation of Employment into three new designations - Core Employment Area, General Employment Area and Retail Employment Area. Among other matters, the report now recommends that the General Employment Area and Retail Employment Area designations be consolidated and geographically refined to provide for a full range and scale of retail uses. The report also recommends that staff be directed to investigate policy approaches to address the impact of non-residential sensitive uses in Employment Areas and that staff report back to the September 12 meeting of the Planning and Growth Management Committee on this matter.

Depending on the directions given by the Planning and Growth Management Committee, the two reports may be considered by City Council on June 11, 2013.

Next Steps - Employment Policies-Further Reporting and Statutory Public Meeting

The April 23, 2013 staff reports set out the following timing for next steps:

  • June 20, 2013 Planning and Growth Management Committee meeting-City staff will report on additional conversion requests;
  • September 12, 2013 Planning and Growth Management Committee meeting-City staff will report on proposed Official Plan policies and designations for the Employment lands;
  • City-wide Statutory Open House (date not available); and
  • November 21, 2013 Planning and Growth Management Committee special statutory public meeting-City staff will report on final assessments of the conversion requests and final staff recommendations for new Employment policies and designations including policies relating to places of worship.

Status of Other Proposed Official Plan Policies

City staff has been busy developing other new Official Plan policies. On April 4, 2013, Toronto City Council endorsed new Public Realm and Heritage policies. These policies are now under circulation at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the final approval authority. Once the Ministry issues a Notice of Decision, there will be a statutory 20 day appeal period.

New Section 37 policies related to Affordable Housing were the subject of a statutory public meeting held by the Planning and Growth Management Committee on February 28, 2013. The Committee directed that staff report further to the Council meeting scheduled for June 11 and 12, 2013.

On the transportation front, broad consultation on proposed new Transportation policies for the Official Plan continues under the city's banner of Feeling Congested? A first round of stakeholder consultation regarding decision making criteria and potential funding tools has concluded. The next round of consultation respecting priority projects and refinements for other Official Plan transportation policies is expected to commence in June.

The City's consultation for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is also underway in parallel with Metrolinx's planning process. A status report is expected to be considered at the Planning and Growth Management Committee meeting on June 20, 2013. Recent consultation by Metrolinx will result in an addendum report to the Environmental Assessment work undertaken regarding potential station relocation/elimination between Laird Drive and Leslie Street. The report is expected to be considered by the City's Executive Committee and then City Council in July.

Do not miss the opportunity to protect your appeal rights

Any changes to Official Plan policies and land use designations, permitted uses, maximum densities, height limits and other zoning performance standards may impact development permissions and the value of lands. The proposed transition provisions may not adequately protect your property rights.

Some key points that you may want to take into consideration, whether or not you are seeking to develop or redevelop land, are as follows:

  • City staff has not undertaken a comprehensive review of how the new zoning impacts each parcel of land in Toronto; nor will they undertake this analysis for the new Official Plan provisions. The onus is on the landowners to stay informed and get involved;
  • Any landowner who fails to express concerns or issues with the proposed new zoning or Official Plan policies prior to their passage by City Council will not be able to maintain an appeal of either document and risks not being added as a party to an appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board; and
  • For sites not omitted from the new zoning-by-law or developments not otherwise exempted, after the new zoning by-law is passed and while it is under appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, the Chief Building Official is likely to treat the new zoning, as passed by City Council as "applicable law" when considering the issuance of building permits where new zoning is more restrictive than the existing zoning.

How Stikeman Elliott can help

Stikeman Elliott's municipal and land use planning team would be pleased to speak with you about the new zoning by-law and Official Plan policies and discuss strategies on how you can protect your land development investments and opportunities.

Our team can assist you with:

  • Opportunities to participate in the City's development of the new zoning by-law and Official Plan policies;
  • Examining the potential implications of changes to zoning and Official Plan policies and designations on your property; and
  • Safeguarding appeal rights and advocating your property interests at meetings with City staff and politicians, public meetings, municipal Council and at the Ontario Municipal Board.

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.

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