When six former municipalities amalgamated in 1998 to form the
new City of Toronto, the City inherited 43 individual zoning
by-laws applying to its former municipalities. Each of these 43
zoning by-laws came with its own unique set of permitted uses,
definitions and performance standards (such as maximum permitted
heights, setbacks, gross floor area, etc.). Since 2002, municipal
staff in Toronto have attempted to address the patchwork of current
zoning by-laws by undertaking the "Harmonized Zoning By-law
Project". Its goal: to create a single, comprehensive,
city-wide zoning by-law. The City recently announced that the first
draft of the new zoning by-law will be available
on-line for review and comment in May 2009.
How Will the New Zoning By-law Impact You?
It is important for all owners and developers of land, buildings
and structures in the City of Toronto to assess the impact of the
proposed zoning by-law on existing developments and land use
permissions. The new zoning by-law for the City of Toronto is
generally intended to reflect the "intent" of the
existing 43 zoning by-laws while creating common zoning standards.
However, a number of substantive changes are expected, including
new standards for large format, stand-alone (big box) retail; new
performance standards for 'tall' buildings; new performance
standards for land uses that store dangerous substances on site;
and new performance standards (e.g., new massing and scale
standards) in the City's designated growth areas, such as
Impacts on Land Use Permissions and Land Value
The new zoning by-law for the City of Toronto, once it comes
into force, will potentially impact existing development
permissions and opportunities and, in turn, may impact land values
across the City. For existing developments, the new zoning by-law
may impose new restrictions on the expansion or redevelopment
potential of sites. While the new zoning bylaw will allow the
continued legal use of existing buildings and structures,
initiating any subsequent development approvals process will likely
trigger the requirement to bring any "legal
non-conforming" situation into conformity with the standards
of the new zoning by-law. In the absence of specific exemptions or
other such provisions in the new zoning by-law, land currently
approved for redevelopment (pursuant to a minor variance approval
or a site-specific zoning by-law amendment), but for which a
building permit has not been issued, will be required to comply
with the new zoning by-law when it comes into force.
Consultation and Approval Process
When the draft city-wide zoning by-law is released on-line in
May 2009, interested land owners and developers may participate in
the public consultation process and raise questions and concerns,
as prescribed by the Planning Act, which includes appeal rights to
the Ontario Municipal Board. The consultation period is anticipated
to be complete in October 2009, when municipal staff will convene a
special public meeting of City Council and present a final report
with recommendations on the new zoning by-law.
How Stikeman Elliott Can Help?
Our team of municipal and real estate lawyers and land use
planners at Stikeman Elliott LLP are able to assist you with:
understanding your existing zoning and development permissions
(as set out in the parent zoning, site-specific zoning by-law
amendments and/or minor variances) relative to the new zoning
by-law permissions proposed by the City; and
evaluating the extent to which existing development rights and
opportunities for buildings, structures and land in Toronto will be
We can assist by advocating for and protecting your property
interests at all stages of the new zoning by-law's municipal
public consultation and approval processes and at the Ontario
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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