All about proposals...the development kind, that is.

Source: https://mailchi.mp/toronto/city-planning-101?e=350984efda

There will be a lot of discussion about planning and development in these e-blasts throughout 2019. We are back in another development application boom, the likes of which we haven’t seen since just before the Global Financial Crisis. To prepare for these discussions, I'd like to provide you with a Planning 101 lesson. This would be a great topic to discuss with your Valentine tonight – just ask if they'd be interested in talking about proposals!

The city's role

The first thing to remember about planning and development is that every city in Ontario is a "creature of the province." This means our provincial government determines how Toronto governs and which provincial planning rules it must follow when considering development applications.

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City governments are allowed to create their own plans for growth and development, but these plans must be submitted and approved by the province. Keep in mind that our province's goal since the beginning of this millennium has been to figure out how to accommodate the doubling of the GTA's population.

That may give you an idea of how Toronto's City Planners feel every time another large development application is submitted. Planners know that increasing the density in a neighbourhood is stressful, but they also must consider proposals fairly as well as the provincial context.

The process

Anyone who owns land can apply, through their local City Planning office, to change their property. If you have a single-family home and just want to renovate and add to the home, you will go through a faster and less political process. Planning staff would review the application and put it before a citizen-appointed committee called the "Committee of Adjustment."

However, our biggest concern in Don Valley North is the many multi-residential applications we face. These applications go through much lengthier processes and then go to City Council for political approval. If the applicant isn't happy with Council's decision, they have the option of appealing through a provincial body known as the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT).

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The rules

But let’s slow down and look at these multi-residential proposals step-by-step. Often, when an application is first proposed, residents will ask me: "This is already a done deal, right?" However, at that stage it isn't – there is a long process to meet all the rules that apply.

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Impact on our Ward

You'll note I said "in a normal process." The process changed since the LPAT replaced the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) just last year. The LPAT has very different rules, some of which favour local City Councils and communities. Other changes are just beginning to be understood by planning and legal experts as the first few months of appeals go through the tribunals.

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Two local examples of how these changes have affected our ward is the proposal at Bayview Village Mall and the large application at 2450 Victoria Park Avenue, which I discussed in an earlier e-blast here. Decisions will need to be made on these projects before they are heard by the LPAT later this spring.

At the moment we are working with planners to determine when we can meet again with the community on these applications – I will discuss them with you in more detail next week and include an update on other applications across our ward. Stay tuned!

Ani Dergalstanian