Canada: Toronto Proposes A Development Permit System

What is the Development Permit System (DPS)?

Typically, zoning by-laws are used to implement the vision and objectives of a municipality's Official Plan. However, as an alternative to zoning, provincial legislation also allows for the use of a DPS as a means of implementing Official Plan policies. The role of the DPS is to prescribe development standards and criteria for an area that are in keeping with the desires and expectations of the community. Using a DPS provides greater certainty about how an area will develop over time by limiting the flexibility to accept site-specific development proposals that come forward in the future. As discussed below, the City of Toronto is now preparing to put forward a DPS in certain areas of the City, which is something that landowners and other interested parties should be following closely.

The following are some important features of a DPS that you should know:

  • The DPS by-law will set out development standards and criteria for development within a defined area of the municipality. Such standards can include minimum and maximum development heights, standards for shadow impacts, use of materials, community benefits, etc. Applications for a Development Permit will be assessed relative to the standards and criteria set out in the DPS by-law;
  • When a DPS by-law is in force for a particular area in the municipality, all by-laws passed under Section 34 of the Planning Act for that area, including associated minor variances, are deemed to be repealed;
  • No site-specific zoning amendments or minor variances may be made to a DPS by-law; and
  • When a DPS by-law is in force, only the Development Permit applicant may appeal a refusal to issue or conditions relating to a Development Permit to the OMB. Similarly, there are no opportunities for third party appeals of the issuance of a Development Permit.

In short, the proposed use of the DPS represents a radical change in how land use planning and development will be undertaken in the future. Readers should note that the DPS is by no means unique to Toronto. Ontario Regulation 608/06 allows all municipalities in the province to implement a DPS.

Status of Toronto's proposed Development Permit System

Toronto's first proposed DPS is moving very quickly through the approval process. City staff hosted a number of open houses and public meetings in each planning district last month. On April 10, 2014, the Planning and Growth Management Committee will consider a  report dated March 26, 2014 on the results of the consultation, revised recommendations and suggested criteria for determining areas that will be considered for implementation of a DPS by-law. Pilot areas for the use of a DPS by-law have not yet been determined, but staff were previously directed to consider the implementation of a DPS by-law in King/Spadina.

In selecting areas in which to implement a DPS by-law, the planners have suggested the use of the following criteria:

  • Areas of growth with Secondary Plans or where background studies have been completed supporting a vision for the area;
  • Areas of growth where there is intense development pressure;
  • Major roads designated as Mixed Use Areas; and
  • Stable residential neighbourhoods (which might have a less onerous review process).

Required fees for DPS applications have not yet been identified by the City of Toronto and may vary by area. Plan requirements for a complete application are set out in Schedule 1 to Ontario Regulation 608/06 and are similar to those currently required for rezoning and site plan approval applications.

Key dates

  • April 10, 2014: Planning and Growth Management Committee to consider the March 26, 2014 staff report on the results of the stakeholder consultation, revised recommendations and suggested criteria for determining areas that will be considered for implementation of a DPS by-law;
  • June 9, 2014: Statutory Open House;
  • June 19, 2014: Planning and Growth Management Committee Statutory Public meeting to consider the final Official Plan Amendment for the implementation of a DPS;
  • July 8 and 9, 2014: City Council consideration of the new DPS Official Plan policies; and
  • 20 day statutory appeal period.

Do not miss the opportunity to protect your appeal rights

Any changes to Official Plan policies may impact development permissions and the value of lands. Landowners and other interested parties will have two opportunities to appeal the DPS requirements; firstly at the Official Plan policy stage and later at the individual DPS by-law stage.

Any landowner who fails to express concerns or issues with the proposed new Official Plan policies, and later at the DPS by-law stage, prior to the adoption and passage respectively 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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