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Bill 108: For the people or for developers?

It's getting more and more difficult to not dedicate each of these weekly e-blasts to provincial politics instead of City Hall. Every day we learn of a new action by the provincial government that impacts the way my team and I are trying to serve you. This week in Council On Tuesday, Council reviewed a report from the City Manager and motions from Mayor Tory on the $177 million the province wants to rip out of our City's 2019 Budget. The provincial government wants Toronto to continue delivering Public Health, Childcare services and Ambulance services while they claw back an enormous share of the costs, leaving us with a gaping hole in our Budget. While we were discussing this up in the Council chamber, the phones began to ring and emails started pouring in to our Ward 17 office. Parents whose children attend the St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Armenian Saturday School hosted in Forest Manor Public School were calling us in a panic. The TDSB hosts Saturday language schools across Toronto and have done so for years – now they are facing $42 million in cuts from the province as well as inflationary pressures that bring the total cut to $67.8 million. This means so-called "nice-to-haves" like Saturday language schools will have to go. Never mind that these programs build intellectual capacity while helping children strengthen healthy ties to their own family heritage. Bill 108 On Wednesday, calls and emails continued to pour in from the Armenian community while I went up to the Chambers for day two of our Council meeting. I had to leave Ani Dergalstanian in our office working on a course of action to help our Armenian community, as I needed most of the day to grapple with a presentation from the City’s Chief Planner on the impacts of Ontario's Bill 108. I believe Housing Minister Steve Clark is simply hoping you won't be interested in a piece of legislation detailing how planners and developers interact. It's even titled "More Homes, More Choice" so that you might not even bother with it. I think you'll feel differently once you read between the lines – look at this visual of just one major change the Bill proposes: Current regulations Toronto has done nothing but absorb growth, especially over the past decade. It's been a challenge for everyone, but we have been effective in using planning regulations to make sure growth pays for growth. That's because currently, developers make their profits even after they pay for infrastructure in three different ways: 1 Firstly, we collect development charges that are pooled and used to build hard infrastructure city-wide. This is so things as basic as water pipes and transit stations can be improved for everyone's benefit. 2 Second, we collect spaces for parks either in the form of the land itself or through cash that can be used to create more green space in the area. This is because we believe all density needs to be balanced with livable green space. 3 Lastly, we collect Section 37 funds which are then used very locally to mitigate the impact of new development in the immediate neighbourhood. Bill 108 removes the fairness of the three approaches above and replaces them with just one Community Benefit calculation that is still unclear. If applied literally, it exposes almost a billion dollars a year in current growth benefits to reduction or outright elimination. Proposed changes I need you to join myself and my neighbouring councillors, John Filion and Jaye Robinson, to learn more about this. There is an urgent notice below for a community meeting we are holding on May 27th. Oh, and if you were planning on giving this meeting a pass, I'll let you know one more thing. Any resident living along the Sheppard subway line had long wished for the elimination of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). This tribunal existed so that developers could appeal and have a tribunal override any planning decisions by City Council. When the OMB was finally replaced in 2017 with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), we breathed a sigh of relief. LPAT was designed to force cities and developers to achieve a mutual settlement. It also worked to improve resident participation, providing them with a dedicated legal support centre. The LPAT residents’ support centre was removed shortly after the provincial election and now, Bill 108 re-instates the tribunal’s right to override City Council in favour of developers. In a particularly deceptive move, it will continue to be called the LPAT, but it will function exactly like the OMB did. Bill 108 is being rushed through the legislative process without consultation. If you care about managing growth in our community, you need to attend our meeting on Monday, May 27th to learn all about it. We’ll also be joined by our Chief Planner, Greg Lintern. Afterwards, we’ll help you reach your MPP and the Premier. Don Valley North is one of Toronto's fastest-growing communities. We need to ensure that growth is managed responsibly and collaboratively – if you agree, I need you at this meeting.


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