Canada: Update On Toronto City-Wide Zoning By-Law 569-2013/Toronto Official Plan 5-Year Review - New Economic Health And Employment Lands 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. The City received appeals against Zoning By-law 569-2013 for approximately 325 properties.

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, is also considering which appeals may lead to a negotiated settlement and have reached out to appellants to discuss their appeals. Formal proceedings before the Ontario Municipal Board to scope and organize the eventual hearing on the appeals are not expected before early 2014.

On July 19, 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. This By-law is also under appeal.

More recently, on October 22, 2013 the Planning and Growth Management Committee considered a City staff report recommending amendments to City-wide Zoning By-law 569-2013 regarding group homes. The Committee endorsed staff's recommendation to hold a public meeting in November to consult on the proposal to revise the definition of "group home" by deleting the minimum number of three persons and to eliminate the 250 metre separation requirement between group homes and between larger residences containing more than 10 persons which are classified as residential care homes. After the public meeting, City staff will report back with a final report and draft by-law for the January 13, 2014 Planning and Growth Management Committee meeting.

For sites not exempt from the new Zoning By-law and while Zoning By-law 569-2013 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 Economic Health and Employment Lands 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 Official Plan Employment policies in January 2013 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".

The Planning and Growth Management Committee and City Council have considered a number of additional staff reports on both the proposed new Economic Health and Employment Lands policies and requests received by the City to convert Employment Lands to other uses, ie. residential uses. These reports are dated (April 23, 2013 (1), April 23, 2013 report (2), May 21, 2013, and August 20, 2013).

The City process is quickly coming to a conclusion and staff will be reporting to a Special Public Meeting of the Planning and Growth Management Committee on November 21, 2013 on the proposed Official Plan Amendment for new Economic Health and Employment Lands policies. Staff will also be reporting to this meeting on the final assessments of conversion requests filed before May 31, 2013 to convert Employment designated lands to other designations. City staff are considering the conversion requests against the conversion criteria in Section of the Provincial Growth Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement.

The City's Notice of the November 21, 2013 Special Public Meeting indicates that the proposed Official Plan Amendment containing the new policies and mapping will be available on October 31, 2013. The staff report on the new policies which will also provide the rationale for the final assessment of the majority of conversion requests will be posted on the City's website on November 15, 2013.

The proposed Official Plan Amendment will reflect, among other matters, the following:

  • Two Employment Designations - ie. General Employment and Core Employment (the current "Avenue" overlay on Employment Lands along major streets will be deleted);
  • The distinction between Employment Areas and Employment Districts will be eliminated;
  • Policies will be directed to achieving a net gain of non-residential space in residential redevelopment in the Downtown, Centres and within walking distance of rapid transit stations to office buildings; and
  • Policies will direct "major office" to the Downtown and four Centres, protection of existing commercial uses in the Centres and promoting additional commercial development, where appropriate, in close proximity to subway stations.

Key Dates Summary - Employment Policies-Further Reporting and Special Statutory Public Meeting

  • November 21, 2013 Planning and Growth Management Committee to hold a Special Statutory Public Meeting on staff's final recommendations for an Official Plan Amendment for new Economic Health and Employment Lands policies and designations. City staff will also report to this meeting on final assessments of the majority of conversion requests.

    This Special Public Meeting presents an opportunity for prospective appellants of the new Economic Health and Employment Lands policies to speak to the Planning and Growth Management Committee on any concerns that they may have;
  • December 16/17, 2013 potential City Council consideration/adoption of the final Official Plan Amendment and final recommendations on the majority of conversion requests; and
  • Subsequent to the City Council meeting, the Official Plan Amendment containing new Economic Health and Employment Lands policies will be forwarded to MMAH who will, after stakeholder circulation and comment, issue a Notice of Approval triggering the statutory 20 day appeal period. We expect that the appeal period will not likely be triggered until sometime in the spring.

Status of Other Proposed 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.

New Section 37 policies relating to Height and/or Density Incentives for 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. The City is also consulting stakeholders on their experiences of working with Section 37 policies in order to identify practical opportunities for improvement.

On the transportation front, 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. The next stakeholder consultation event is scheduled for November 4, 2013 and will focus on the outcomes of work undertaken to date, a new timeline and a discussion on how best to collaborate going forward.

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.

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 will 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.

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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