On May 20, 2016, the City of Toronto released a proposed
Official Plan amendment (OPA) to further regulate tall building
setbacks in downtown Toronto. Accompanying zoning by-law amendments
(ZBAs) to the old and new zoning bylaws containing specific
numerical standards will be released closer to the June 14, 2016,
Toronto and East York Community Council meeting at which both the
OPA and the ZBAs will be considered.
The new OPA will entrench standards provided to date in the Tall
Building Design Guidelines, which the City alleges is often
neglected during the approvals process. The policies are to apply
to all lands located on land generally bounded by Bathurst Street,
Lake Ontario, the Don River, Rosedale Valley Road and the CPR
tracks. There are very few carve-outs.
Although the OPA is general in nature and does not refer to any
specific numerical standards, it does indicate that tall building
development is to meet a number of subjective standards, including
high-quality comfortable public realm improvements, access to
natural light and a reasonable level of privacy and
pedestrian-level views of the sky between the towers. The OPA also
sets out that sites where proposed tall buildings do not meet these
standards will not be considered suitable for tall building
development. Proposed developments are also to conform to the
streetwall context of the block in which the proposed tall building
Although the City engaged the industry for comment prior to the
release of the OPA and ZBAs, there are still several concerns that
arise from the proposals. For instance, it is unclear how the
ZBAs' proposed tower setbacks will fit with the proposed OPA
requirement to meet existing or planned streetwall experiences,
which may vary across downtown Toronto. Entrenching numerical
standards in the ZBAs that were previously only located in the Tall
Building Design guidelines will surely reduce flexibility and the
ability to respond to local context and increase the number of
zoning by-law amendments.
The policies are currently open for comment.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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