On July 11, 2014, at the end of a marathon four day Council meeting, Toronto City Council endorsed the City-wide implementation of a Development Permit System (DPS) through the adoption of Official Plan Amendment 258 ("OPA 258").
What does this mean?
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.
DPS by-laws under OPA 258 will prescribe development standards and criteria for an area that are in keeping with the desires and expectations of the community including minimum and maximum development heights, standards for shadow impacts, use of materials, community benefits, etc. The Chief Planner was requested by Council to report on the possibility of including affordable housing in all DPS areas.
Applications for a Development Permit will be assessed relative to the standards and criteria set out in the DPS by-law. 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.
What concerns were raised by interested parties about the use of the DPS?
The DPS framework in OPA 258 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 as Ontario Regulation 608/06 allows all municipalities in the province to implement a DPS. OPA 258 will allow DPS by-laws to be enacted throughout the City, and the use of the DPS on this scale in a dense and complex urban environment is unique and untested.
Many City Councillors expressed concern with the use of the DPS, but ultimately, rather than deferring consideration of the matter, voted to approve OPA 258 and have the Chief Planner report back to the Planning and Growth Management Committee with a more detailed analysis addressing outstanding issues from resident associations, property owners and planning/legal professionals and a broadened consultation process for DPS by-laws.
City Council received more than 55 submissions on the proposed use of the DPS. Concerns raised by various parties included:
- Uncertain status of new and active applications;
- Scope of interim control by-law and transitional provisions in OPA 258;
- Criteria for selecting areas for DPS by-laws;
- Lack of broad consultation on OPA 258 and broader consultation required for individual DPS by-laws;
- Opportunities for site specific amendments to a DPS by-law and "up-zoning" of areas by the Ontario Municipal Board as a result;
- Legal non-conformity issues including the loss of existing site-specific zoning and minor variance approvals;
- Minor variances may not be made to a DPS by-law;
- Uncertainty due to consultation requirements for Development Permit applications and delegation to Staff;
- Loss of third party appeal rights; and
- Limited transitional provisions in Ontario Regulation 608/06.
Priority areas for consideration of the implementation of DPS By-laws
City Council endorsed the following Staff-recommended areas for initial consideration of DPS By-laws:
- Etobicoke Centre Secondary Plan area
- Scarborough Centre Secondary Plan area
- North Yonge Secondary Plan area (amended by Council to delete the west side of Yonge Street from the review)
- Yonge Eglinton Centre area (after consultation with residents and all local residents' associations)
- King-Spadina Planning District
Several Councillors also put forward successful motions at Council to have consultation undertaken in additional areas for potential development of DPS by-laws. These areas include Bloor West Village, Eglinton Avenue West between Marlee and Spadina Avenue, and the Weston and Mount Dennis areas. Council also directed the Chief Planner to report to the Planning and Growth Management Committee on the possibility of including affordable housing in all DPS areas.
The City Clerk has just given Notice of Adoption of OPA 258 triggering the 20 day appeal period.
Landowners and other interested parties who raised issues with OPA 258 through the public process prior to its July 11, 2014 adoption by City Council, will have the right to appeal it. Those who failed to express concerns or issues with the proposed Official Plan policies prior to their adoption by City Council will not be able to maintain an appeal and risk not being added as a party to an appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board.
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, i.e. OPA 258, and later at the individual DPS by-law stage.
The last date to appeal OPA 258 is August 13, 2014.
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.