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Culture

Changing the Planning Process: Toronto Considers A Development Permit System

Posted October 24, 2014 by Anonymous

Urban

Toronto’s current planning process can be confusing for residents eager to know how their neighbourhoods will be developed. The bylaws governing zoning, height and other standards are routinely amended in order to permit a proposed development that would not have met these criteria, which promotes deviation from supposedly accepted rules. Ever since the introduction of the Province of Ontario’s Places To Grow Act in 2005, the height and density restrictions in Toronto’s zoning bylaws have been rendered somewhat obsolete by the Act’s requirement that cities intensify. City officials now spend months negotiating with developers and engaging in public consultation to establish just how much intensification will be allowed for each application. The patchwork of rules and amendments results in uncertainty and long timelines for everyone involved.

This is why the City of Toronto is considering a complete overhaul of the rules and regulations that now guide the planning process. The adoption of Ontario Regulation 608/06 in 2007 under the Planning Act gives municipalities the power to implement a Development Permit System (DPS). The DPS eliminates the need for separate zoning, site plan and minor variance processes, combining them all into one application and approval process. The DPS is, in essence, an alternative to the current use of zoning as a means of implementing the Official Plan. It is designed to reflect the needs and desires of local communities. As such, it is applied neighbourhood by neighbourhood, with residents providing their vision and objectives to guide development in the area. 

Discussion was held at Ryerson's engineering building, image by Marcus MitanisThe discussion was held at Ryerson University’s engineering building, image by Marcus Mitanis

Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development held a discussion on Monday about the impacts and issues related to implementing a DPS in Toronto. In attendance were:  Joe D’Abramo, Former Director of Zoning and Environmental Planning at the City of Toronto; Bob Blazevski, Executive Vice President of DiamondCorp;  Bernie Steiger, Manager of Development Services, Planning and Infrastructure at the City of Brampton; and Brian Bogley, President of the Upper Jarvis Neighbourhood Association. The event was hosted by David Amborski, the Director of the Centre for Urban Research and Land Development. 

Before a DPS can be implemented, the Official Plan needs to contain detailed policies. It must include the area where a DP bylaw could be enacted, goals, objectives and policies of the DPS, the criteria for evaluating the proposed development, types of conditions that may be imposed, and opportunities for delegation. The policies may also include requirements for section 37 community benefits. 

Once a DP bylaw is enacted, all developments must conform to the standards and policies set within. That means that if there is a specified maximum building height of 100 metres, no development can exceed that limit. The bylaw could however specify ranges in building heights and other standards, leading to more flexibility. Section 37 benefits would be given in exchange for the “specified height” or maximum height listed in the DPS. A DP bylaw could include a specified amount of money the applicant must pay per building storey for example, up to the maximum. In terms of building use, the bylaw would set out which uses are permitted, but can also include “discretionary uses” that would be permitted. The bylaw may also include a variety of measures designed to protect public health and the environment by imposing conditions on the development.

The DP bylaw would essentially include all the standards and rules that a development would have to meet in order to be approved. If an application meets the standards outlined in the bylaw, it would be approved quickly. Any development that does not conform to these standards will be rejected.

City Planning has dubbed the proposed DPS 'Reset TO', image by City of TorontoCity Planning has dubbed the proposed DPS ‘Reset TO’, image courtesy of the City of Toronto

The DP bylaw, once in place, replaces the zoning, site plan and minor variance requirements for the area. However, there seems to be a lack of clarity regarding whether site-specific amendments would be permitted. City Planning says they would not be, yet lawyers have indicated the Planning Act states that DPS policies cannot prevent site-specific amendments. Seeking a site-specific amendment under the new system would be more difficult than under the current system, but not impossible.

On the issues of the current system, D’Abramo said that due to the sheer amount of zoning bylaw amendments, “we’re not really sure where we’re going.” He stated that there is a lack of consistency and no vision for how we want our communities to be developed, agreeing with the City that a DPS could help solve the current uncertainty. 

One of the most appealing and most touted aspects of a DPS is the streamlining of the review process. Since the local DP bylaw is established by the community, consultation about a development that meets all of the criteria would not be required. A decision on a DP would have to be made within 45 days, compared to the current 120 days when seeking a zoning bylaw amendment. Also, if a development proposal meets the criteria listed in the bylaw, third parties cannot appeal the issuance of a permit. In addition, only the applicant can appeal against the rejection of the application or the conditions attached to it. 

Several cities in Canada have already implemented a DPS. In Ontario, the City of Brampton recently adopted a city-wide DP bylaw, though it has since been appealed. Steiger said that the framework will help Brampton “retain its heritage resources, allow for more range of uses and create more street activity.” The Township of Lake of Bays in Muskoka has also instituted a DPS along its waterfront. 

David Amborski poses questions to the panel, image by Marcus MitanisDavid Amborski poses questions to the panel, image by Marcus Mitanis

Bob Blazevski of DiamondCorp. had some concerns about the proposed initiative, stating that “implementing a DPS is a questionable mandate; it may limit creativity.” He also questioned why the City would implement such a system after harmonizing the zoning bylaws of the pre-amalgmation boroughs of Toronto. Blazevski suggested that the system could first be adopted in one particular neighbourhood as a pilot project rather than implementing it city-wide. 

Brian Bogley recalled his visioning exercise with the Upper Jarvis Neighbourhood Association. Similar to a DPS, he asked residents to explain how they wanted their community to develop. Both residents and developers would then have an idea of what the community wanted, helping to provide some clarity amongst the lengthy and intimidating planning process. On implementing a DPS, he said it “could be a benefit to the community.”

Countering this sentiment was former Councillor Kyle Rae, who spoke during the question and answer period following the panel discussion. He expressed concern that local DP bylaws could prevent tall buildings and intensification. D’Abramo argued that the impact of developments on infrastructure is often overlooked and thus, “the DPS is absolutely necessary for the City of Toronto.”

The discussion left those in attendance with a better idea of what a DPS is, though many were still confused about the implications the process would have on Section 37 benefits and the Ontario Municipal Board’s role in the process. If implemented, the system would require a major culture change at City Hall within a department that is already overworked. 

For more information about the proposed system, visit Reset TO.

Do you have an opinion on whether a DPS in Toronto would solve many of our current planning issues? Leave a comment in the field below to have your say. 

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Culture

The CBC Respects Dignity Better than Corporate Media

Posted October 24, 2014 by Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Corporate media, being owned by corporations, needs to maximize shareholder wealth. That means news is a loss leader. News is about generating sensationalism, excitement or hysteria. News is about generating ratings to charge more for advertising to maximize shareholder wealth. Thus, when the CBC characteristically doesn’t sensationalize something, it’s noted around the world. CBC is […]

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Culture

Daily Headlines: News From the Internet for October 24, 2014

Posted October 24, 2014 by Jack Landau

Urban

John Tory racks up endorsements from fashion insiders, Olivia Chow buys ads and Doug Ford works Rexdale; Old and new clash in Markham election that could see a changing of the guard; Development plan divides Simcoe County village; and more news…

Doug Ford denies calling Toronto reporter a ‘little b—h’ as John Tory and Olivia Chow demand he apologize (National Post)

Tory still the target in Toronto’s final mayoral debate (Globe and Mail)

John Tory racks up endorsements from fashion insiders, Olivia Chow buys ads and Doug Ford works Rexdale (National Post)

Development plan divides Simcoe County village (Toronto Star)

Old and new clash in Markham election that could see a changing of the guard (National Post)

China proposes to cut ties with Toronto school board ahead of vote (Globe and Mail)

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Culture

Winners Announced at 40th Annual Heritage Toronto Awards

Posted October 23, 2014 by Anonymous

Urban

Despite the loss of many significant heritage buildings in the past, there is a recognition that the architectural, cultural and natural heritage of the city is worth preserving. Heritage Toronto is an organization that promotes the protection of these assets through a series of events including walking tours and plaque presentations. Their most prestigious event, the Heritage Toronto Awards, celebrates individuals, organizations and corporations that have contributed to the shared historical fabric of the city. The event, now in its 40th year, was held on Tuesday at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Kroner Hall.

40th annual Heritage Toronto Awards held at Kroner Hall, image by Marcus MitanisThe 40th annual Heritage Toronto Awards were held at Kroner Hall, image by Marcus Mitanis

The awards are split into several categories. The Book category honours non-fiction works that explore the city’s heritage. The Award of Excellence is the highest honour, followed by the Award of Merit and Honourable Mentions. Author Charlotte Gray won the top prize with her book The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Country. The book revolves around the murder of Albert Massey by housemaid Carrie Davies, the resulting trial, the class divisions and the customs of 1915. The Award of Merit went to The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement, which tells the story of ‘The Stop’, an agency that transformed itself from a traditional food bank into a community centre with gardens, a greenhouse and a farmer’s market. Along the Shore: Rediscovering Toronto’s Waterfront Heritage and Setting a Fine Table: Historical Desserts and Drinks from the Officers’ Kitchens at Fort York received Honourable Mentions. 

Similar to the Book category, the Short Publication category recognizes online and print non-fiction articles and booklets that focus on Toronto’s rich heritage. In 1859, the first man-made flying object visited Toronto. That Time a Giant Gas Balloon Dazzled Toronto by blogTO’s Chris Bateman showcases the event through maps and illustrations, resulting in a compelling story the jury felt deserved the Award of Excellence. Historicist: Straitlaced Toronto – Corsets, Tight-lacing, and the Changing Role of Women in 19th Century Toronto received the Award of Merit with Chris Raible’s Mackenzie Wrote Here? taking home an Honourable Mention. 

Nominated books were on sale outside the auditorium, image by Marcus MitanisNominated books were on sale outside the auditorium, image by Marcus Mitanis

The Media category recognizes videos, films, websites and digital applications that educate the public about the city’s history. The diverse category featured several potential winners, but was topped by Wendy Smith and her work, The Toronto Park Lot Project. The interactive website explores the early years of Toronto’s history through the use of maps and clickable markers which display information about aboriginal trails, waterways and the 32 park lots of the 1700’s. The Award of Merit went to Historical Maps of Toronto, which showcases digitized maps from the 18th century to the Victorian era. 

The Community Heritage category honours volunteer organizations which aim to protect heritage in their neighbourhood or across the city. The Harbord Village Resident’s Association took home the Members’ Choice Award for its innovative work in educating people about the area’s history. The Village of Islington BIA was recognized with an award for its unique murals gracing the walls of its low-rises on Dundas Street West as was La Société d’histoire de Toronto for its work increasing awareness about the city’s francophone history. 

John F. Taylor House snags Award of Excellence, image by Marcus MitanisThe John F. Taylor House is recognized with the Award of Excellence, image by Marcus Mitanis

The final award of the night, the William Greer Architectural Conservation And Craftmanship category recognizes property owners who have restored or adapted heritage buildings. The John F. Taylor House – Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto Residence received the Award of Excellence after an extensive restoration of the 1885 building. Alterations and additions were removed to bring the building back to its original condition. Woodcliffe Landmark PropertiesMarket Street Redevelopment also received an Award of Excellence for its conservation and revitalization of the properties adjacent to St. Lawrence Market. Awards of Merit went to the O’Connor Estate Buildings and the Goldring Student Centre with the Lassonde Mining Innovation Centre picking up an Honourable Mention. 

Market Street received the Award of Excellence, image by Marcus MitanisThe Market Street Redevelopment received the Award of Excellence, image by Marcus Mitanis

The William Kilbourn Memorial Lecture, named after the historian, politician and writer, followed the awards ceremony. Several distinguished speakers have hosted the lecture in the past, including Adrienne Clarkson, David Crombie and Ursula Franklin. The speaker this year was Jack Diamond of Diamond Schmitt Architects, who passionately lectured about the need for evidenced-based planning and policies. Bemoaning the loss of the long-form census and the continuing politicization of issues, he stated that a change in governance, including an elimination of the current first-past-the-post voting system, was needed. Despite the changes he would like to see, he said Toronto is a city of great opportunity that needs to solve its pressing issues to truly become a global centre. 

Jack Diamond at William Kilbourn Memorial Lecture, image by Marcus MitanisJack Diamond speaks as part of the William Kilbourn Memorial Lecture, image by Marcus Mitanis

The event demonstrates that heritage is still an important topic in Toronto that is deserving of more attention. The vast amount of literature, combined with organizations and property owners dedicated to conservation demonstrates that Toronto’s heritage is worth protecting. With the municipal election next week, the next four years may provide an opportunity for increased awareness of our shared architectural, cultural and natural history. For more information about Heritage Toronto, visit their official website.


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Culture

ISIS, Walking Dead and Our Zombie Moral Compass

Posted October 23, 2014 by Evan Derkacz

Honestly, after a good bit of Googling I’m surprised to find just…

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Culture

Daily Headlines: News From the Internet for October 23, 2014

Posted October 23, 2014 by Jack Landau

Urban

Wards to watch: A cornucopia of credible choices to replace Karen Stintz in Eglinton-Lawrence; John Tory doubles his lead over Doug Ford in new poll as Toronto mayoral race nears end; GTA’s lesser-known candidates and races hold plenty of excitement; and more news…

John Tory doubles his lead over Doug Ford in new poll as Toronto mayoral race nears end (National Post)

Toronto backlog causes two-year wait for parking ticket date (Toronto Star)

It’s time to re-examine the scope of municipal powers (Globe and Mail)

Toronto election debates are running short of gotcha moments for candidates (National Post)

GTA’s lesser-known candidates and races hold plenty of excitement (Toronto Star)

Wards to watch: A cornucopia of credible choices to replace Karen Stintz in Eglinton-Lawrence (National Post)

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Culture

Daily Headlines: News From the Internet for October 22, 2014

Posted October 22, 2014 by Jack Landau

Urban

Neon palm tree El Mocambo sign up for sale on eBay; Doug Ford took a rather embarrassing photo with a gentleman he didn’t realize was mocking him; Incumbents mostly no-shows at Caledon’s Canadian Tire debate; and more news…

Doug Ford took a rather embarrassing photo with a gentleman he didn’t realize was mocking him (National Post)

Race for Toronto city councillor heats up in Ward 18 (Globe and Mail)

Incumbents mostly no-shows at Caledon’s Canadian Tire debate (Toronto Star)

John Tory’s campaign says it has raised more than $2M (National Post)

Halton Hills mayoral race reignites debate over quarry (Globe and Mail)

Neon palm tree El Mocambo sign up for sale on eBay (Toronto Star)

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Allan's Perspective

Saturday Morning Confusion About Censorship!

Posted October 18, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: As you know, your often maligned reporter goes on rants and raves about stuff that seems grossly unfair, unjust, or just plain ridiculous. I have campaigned against the far left, far right, feminists, (especially the femi-nazi’s) special interest groups, animals lovers and vegetarians, bigots, racists, survivalists, cops, minorities, immigrants, liberals and conservatives, lobbyists, […]

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Activism

What I Am Thankful For

Posted October 13, 2014 by Stephen Elliott-Buckley

This weekend, I am thankful for folks in Seattle who know how to transform the imperialist Columbus Day into Indigenous Peoples’ Day. May we all learn this for next year! “We are all citizens in a democracy, we are all here to work with each other, and by making this Indigenous People’s Day, we are […]

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Allan's Perspective

We got trouble in River City folks!

Posted August 24, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers; I should warn you from the get-go that this article will not be politically correct or even nice! It might even border on the racist and elitist according to some, but I am going to say things that need to be said! Ya see, these last few weeks is one of those periods […]

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Culture

Feudal System

Posted August 14, 2014 by Anonymous

Gjon Mhilli doesn’t leave his house out of fear he’ll be killed. Photo by the author

Gjon Mhilli peered out through his curtains at the countryside near Shkodër, in northwestern Albania. Outside it was sunny, warm—buc…

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Allan's Perspective

Stop, BANG, or I’ll shoot!

Posted July 24, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Well, well, just like dash cameras lessened incidents of violence during police traffic stops, so too will personal cameras on individual cops alleviate many of the problems associated with “police officers” shooting and beating on civilians …………………….., whether they deserve it or not! That, combined with the judicious use of Tasers instead of guns, will […]

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Allan's Perspective

Saturday Morning Confusion #17

Posted July 19, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Folks, a lot of confusion about stuff like climate change, evolution, and a whole bunch of other scientific issues lately! This article discusses how equal time is not really appropriate for a clearly false or uninformed position! The metaphor that a coin has two sides is a powerful one, and the temptation to look at […]

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Allan's Perspective

Lets get things back into Perspective here! #1

Posted July 18, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Folks, let’s get things back into perspective here! Your humble and overworked reporter has to set things right on certain occasions, so we here at the Perspective Research Department, along with the staff at Naked News, are going to provide a regular feature here on BlogsCanada.ca called…………………………, LET’S GET THINGS BACK INTO PERSPECTIVE HERE! We […]

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Allan's Perspective

Great lines from great movies!

Posted July 10, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

The weekend is coming and the Mrs. Herself and I have decided to go to the movies. We have a method that keeps everybody happy folks! The Mrs. Herself checks the movie times and finds two movies in the same cineplex, at about the same time, that we can see! For example, she wants to […]

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Allan's Perspective

I’m Normal!

Posted July 8, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

So ya say that life is getting you down! Your wife is a bitch, and your son is a clown. The mother-in-law is crazy, and last night is real hazy! Even the job is the pits, and life is the shits! There’s no money to spend, and ya don’t have a friend! IS THAT WHAT’S […]

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Allan's Perspective

Convert to Islam or face the sword!

Posted June 23, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Christianity is on the run in the Middle-East folks! Won’t be long before Israel is the only place they will be safe! “Iraqi Christians flee cities captured by extremists known to kill non-Muslims:” That was the stark message Christians in the Syrian city of Raqqa received when ultra-fundamentalist Sunni extremists, proclaiming themselves to be members […]

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Allan's Perspective

Dick Cheney is a real Dick!

Posted June 20, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Folks, I have said many times in the past that Dick Cheney is one person who who actually scares me! I can’t say he is totally evil since I don’t believe in the devil, but there is something fundamentally NASTY about him! And, after the disasters he got the United States into during Bush’s term, […]

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