Canada: Update On Toronto City-Wide Zoning By-law 569-2013 / Toronto Official Plan 5-Year Review - New Employment Policies

Toronto's New City-wide Zoning By-law

Toronto City Council passed new City-wide Zoning By-law 569-2013 on May 9, 2013.

By the end of the appeal period on June 4, 2013, the City had received appeals against Zoning By-law 569-2013 for approximately 325 properties. The overwhelming majority of the appeals were site-specific, others being more general in nature. The City's first attempt at a consolidated Zoning By-law, By-law 1156-2010, received 694 appeals and the lesser number of appeals this time around in part reflects the City's incorporation of more detailed transition provisions.

The Ontario Municipal Board is currently working with the City to organize the appeals and to find a venue for the proceedings. City staff, as part of the organization of the appeals into categories, are also considering which appeals may lead to a negotiated settlement. Formal proceedings before the Ontario Municipal Board to scope and organize the eventual hearing on the appeals are not expected before the latter part of this year.

On July 18, 2013, City Council passed By-law 1054-2013 to amend Zoning By-law 569-2013 to make minor corrections to various site-specific exceptions and to exempt additional properties from Zoning By-law 569-2013 for which complete applications for building permits and various approvals had been filed prior to May 9, 2013.

A further staff report recommending both technical amendments to Zoning By-law 1156-2013 and potential settlement issues is expected to be considered by the Planning and Growth Management Committee in the fall.

The Planning and Growth Management Committee is also expected to consider amendments to Zoning By-law 569-2013 pertaining to group homes and rooming houses at its October 22, 2013 meeting.

For sites not omitted from the new Zoning By-law or developments not otherwise exempted when the new Zoning By-law was 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.

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 period of stakeholder consultation, staff reported to the Planning and Growth Management Committee in May in their April 23, 2013 report on the results of the public consultations and on suggested refinements to the draft policies and designations. At its June 11-13, 2013 meeting, City Council directed staff to report on a number of additional matters including:

  • Consolidation of the General Employment and Retail Employment designations so that there will be two and not three Employment designations;
  • Investigation of policy approaches to address the impact of non-residential sensitive uses in Employment Areas;
  • Refining the policy of net gain of non-residential space in residential redevelopments in the Downtown, Centres and within walking distance of rapid transit stations to office buildings; and
  • Reviewing and considering the Provincial Growth Plan policy directing "major office" to the Downtown and four Centres, and specifically address how this policy would be implemented in the Centres, in order to protect existing commercial uses and to regulate additional commercial development, where appropriate, in close proximity to subway stations.

The August 20, 2013 staff report to be considered by the Planning and Growth Management Committee on September 12, 2013 addresses the matters referred to above. Notable refinements to the proposed policies include restrictions on sensitive land uses in Employment Areas, flexible policies respecting relocation of existing office space when lands are redeveloped in certain locations and the promotion of transit-related office development. City Council is expected to consider the Committee's recommendations at its October 8, 2013 meeting.

A special statutory public meeting will be held by the Committee on November 21, 2013, to consider the final staff recommendations on the new Employment policies and the proposed Official Plan amendment to implement those recommendations.

To date, staff have prepared preliminary assessments on the majority of the more than 120 requests to convert Employment lands to non-employment uses or to add additional non-employment uses. The first "wave" of conversion requests were considered by City Council in November of 2012. Two further "waves" were considered by City Council in June and July of this year. The requests were considered by City staff against the conversion criteria in Section of the Provincial Growth Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement. Additional conversion requests are expected to be reported on to the November 21, 2013 Planning and Growth Management Committee meeting.

Key dates summary - Employment policies - Further reporting and statutory public meeting

  • September 12, 2013 Planning and Growth Management Committee meeting to consider refinements to the proposed Employment policies as outlined in the August 20, 2013 staff report;
  • September 19, 2013 City-wide Statutory Open House at Metro Hall;
  • October 8, 2013 City Council to consider the Planning and Growth Management Committee's recommendations from their September 12, 2013 meeting;
  • November 21, 2013 Planning and Growth Management Committee is expected to hold a special statutory public meeting on staff's final recommendations for new Employment policies and designations. City staff will also report to this meeting on final assessments of the conversion requests;
  • December 16/17, 2013 potential City Council consideration/adoption of the final Employment policies and final recommendations on the conversion requests; and
  • Once approved by City Council, the final Employment policies will be forwarded to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing ("MMAH") who will issue a Notice of Approval which will trigger the statutory 20-day appeal period.

Status of other proposed Official Plan policies

City staff is developing other new Official Plan policies. On April 4, 2013, Toronto City Council endorsed new Public Realm and Heritage policies which were subsequently forwarded to the MMAH, the final approval authority. The Ministry circulated the proposed policies to various agencies and stakeholders for comment. While the Ministry has not yet issued a Notice of Approval triggering the 20-day statutory appeal period, it is their intention to do so prior to November 15, 2013, which is 180 days from their receipt of the policies.

New Section 37 policies related to Affordable Housing were endorsed by City Council at its meeting of July 16-19, 2013 and forwarded to the MMAH for approval. These policies are now under agency and stakeholder circulation by the MMAH. Once the Ministry issues a Notice of Decision, there will be a statutory 20-day appeal period.

On the transportation front, broad consultation on proposed new transportation policies for the Official Plan continues under the city's banner of  Feeling Congested? To date, stakeholder consultation has concentrated on decision making criteria, potential funding tools, priority projects and refinements for other Official Plan transportation policies.

Do not miss the opportunity to protect your appeal rights

Any changes to Official Plan policies and land use designations including permitted uses, 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 Official Plan policies impact each parcel of land in Toronto. The onus is on the landowners to stay informed and get involved; and
  • Any landowner who fails to express concerns or issues with the proposed new Official Plan policies prior to their passage by City Council will not be able to maintain an appeal and risks not being added as a party to an appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board.  

How Stikeman Elliott can help

Stikeman Elliott's Municipal & 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 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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