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More Homes for Everyone? My Advice Is to Read the Fine Print

May 19, 2022


In my Council highlights last week, I glossed over a couple of staff reports on Provincial policy changes that have huge impacts on the planning process for every municipality in Ontario. I promised I would dive into them this week, so here we go.


The two pieces of policy are Bills 108 and 109. They have pretty rosy titles: Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act (2019) and Bill 109, the More Homes For Everyone Act (2022). Both were pushed through the Legislature as fast as humanly possible without feedback from residents, city planners, Councillors, or anyone else for that matter.

Premier Ford announced the More Homes For Everyone Act this past March.


I know we have a range of interest levels when it comes to development in our neighbourhoods. Some of you get very involved in the process, while others aren’t as inclined. However you feel about development, these Bills have major impacts on the City’s bottom line and therefore on your wallets. You might want to voice your concern.


Bills 108 and 109 change the planning process in two main areas. The first, which has the greatest potential to impact your quality of life, is the changes to development charges and community benefits that help accommodate population growth in our city. The second, which is getting the most airplay, is the changes to the approval and appeals process at the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). Let’s start with development charges.

Development charges (DCs) exist to make sure that growth pays for growth. They cover the cost of upgrading our infrastructure, like our roads and sewers, to make sure they can accommodate thousands of new Torontonians every year. Since amalgamation, the City of Toronto has been struggling to make our development charges (DCs) match the real cost of growth.


When the Province ordered us to amalgamate, it gave the City one shot to set a DC rate. For whatever reason, that first Toronto City Council set our rates relatively low compared to the rest of the GTA. We get to review these charges every five years, and we’ve been incrementally raising our DCs ever since to try to catch up. Despite this, we’re still behind other GTA municipalities, and still slightly behind the rising cost of infrastructure.


Under Bill 108, the DCs and Section 37 Benefits we currently receive to accommodate growth will be combined into one single charge, called Community Benefit Charges (CBCs). Paired with changes from Bill 109, the direct financial compensation the City receives from developers to pay for growth will be reduced to about one third of what it is now.https://mcusercontent.com/20fc6cc5985488a0159b8fd0c/images/9f82381a-d0c1-2e60-16da-1a8e75ec3932.png

Click on the image to view a larger version.


These financial changes will take effect on January 1, 2023. Worse still, the changes will apply to developments based on when they’re approved by Council or the OLT, not based on when they first applied. Here in Don Valley North, we have development applications that are being held up at the OLT until as late as June 2023. Bill 108 means that if one of these developers had offered, for example, $2.5 million for community impacts when they applied in 2022, by the time the OLT hearing is complete in 2023 the developer will only have to pay about $850,000. I can’t stress enough how much of a loss this is for our community.


The second change has to deal with the appeals process itself. I understand that any Provincial government needs an appeals process. However, we need to ask ourselves who these rule changes are made for. In this case, the changes seem like they are very much for developers and not for the community.


To give a brief history lesson, in my time as Councillor the Provincial process for development appeals has gone from terrible, to slightly better, to really promising, and now we’re right back to terrible. It’s also gone through several name changes. The old Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) conducted what were called De Novo hearings, where they would consider an application from scratch and ignore any work that had been done with the community. Most OMB decisions were in favour of the developer.


In 2017, the OMB was abolished and replaced with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). Let me tell you, City planners jumped for joy when they heard the news. The new LPAT would only let developers appeal if they could prove that a municipality had made a legal error or contradicted the Province’s planning policy. Even more significantly, the LPAT required developers and cities to work together until a mutually agreed upon settlement could be reached on all planning appeals.

With the announcement of Bill 108 in 2019, our current Provincial government cut the collaborative LPAT process off at the knees when it had barely had time to prove itself. The LPAT was replaced with the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), which had several negative impacts on local planning. This included, but was not limited to:

  1. Requiring citizens who participate in OLT hearings to retain a professional and bring proper evidence according to policy, making it much, much harder for residents to be involved in the appeals process.

  2. Lowering the bar for filing an appeal, so that developers no longer have to prove an error in law. This effectively brings back the De Novo hearings from the OMB days.

  3. Reducing the amount of time an applicant has to wait to file an appeal, and reducing the amount of time a City is afforded to respond. Here in Don Valley North, we’ve already seen developers rush to file appeals before the community process has wrapped up.

  4. Introducing punitive legislation for Cities, requiring them to refund part or all of a developer’s application fees if the City does not respond within 120 days.

That last rule change, #4, has massive impacts here in Toronto. Currently, your local city planner costs you zero property tax dollars. When a developer applies, their application fees include the cost of reviewing the application, conducting a community consultation process, and engaging any additional professional advice as needed. For a large, high-density application like Bayview Village Mall, for instance, the application fee might be as much as $400,000. This year, Toronto will take in roughly $42 million in planning revenues to support our Planning department that is 470 strong. However, once these Bills come into effect, we risk losing all of that application fee revenue if City staff don’t get back to the applicant within 120 days. This means that City Planning will have to drastically reduce the amount of time they spend getting professional advice from Transportation Services, Toronto Water, TTC, and other departments. It will also reduce the amount of time they spend in community consultation.

The Provincial election is your chance to tell every party that you want developers held accountable and want neighbourhoods to have a say in the planning process.


The bottom line is that these changes will have massive ramifications for our city and our neighbourhoods. They mean developers are paying less for the growth at your expense, and that you have less of a say in the planning process. The Provincial Government did not seek your input, or mine, before introducing these changes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tell them how you feel now. Election Day is coming up, and this is your chance to let every party looking for your vote know that you don’t want your neighbourhood voice curtailed in the planning process and that you don’t want your hard-earned property tax dollars spent to save developers money. Growth should pay for growth, and developers should be held to account.

 


More Homes for Everyone? My Advice is to Read the Fine Print

In my Council highlights last week, I glossed over a couple of staff reports on Provincial policy changes that have huge impacts on the planning process for every municipality in Ontario. I promised I would dive into them this week, so here we go. The two pieces of policy are Bills 108 and 109. They have pretty rosy titles: Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act (2019) and Bill 109, the More Homes For Everyone Act (2022). Both were pushed through the Legislature as fast as humanly possible without feedback from residents, city planners, Councillors, or anyone else for that matter.

Premier Ford announced the More Homes For Everyone Act this past March.

I know we have a range of interest levels when it comes to development in our neighbourhoods. Some of you get very involved in the process, while others aren’t as inclined. However you feel about development, these Bills have major impacts on the City’s bottom line and therefore on your wallets. You might want to voice your concern. Bills 108 and 109 change the planning process in two main areas. The first, which has the greatest potential to impact your quality of life, is the changes to development charges and community benefits that help accommodate population growth in our city. The second, which is getting the most airplay, is the changes to the approval and appeals process at the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). Let’s start with development charges.

Development charges (DCs) exist to make sure that growth pays for growth. They cover the cost of upgrading our infrastructure, like our roads and sewers, to make sure they can accommodate thousands of new Torontonians every year. Since amalgamation, the City of Toronto has been struggling to make our development charges (DCs) match the real cost of growth. When the Province ordered us to amalgamate, it gave the City one shot to set a DC rate. For whatever reason, that first Toronto City Council set our rates relatively low compared to the rest of the GTA. We get to review these charges every five years, and we’ve been incrementally raising our DCs ever since to try to catch up. Despite this, we’re still behind other GTA municipalities, and still slightly behind the rising cost of infrastructure. Under Bill 108, the DCs and Section 37 Benefits we currently receive to accommodate growth will be combined into one single charge, called Community Benefit Charges (CBCs). Paired with changes from Bill 109, the direct financial compensation the City receives from developers to pay for growth will be reduced to about one third of what it is now.

Click on the image to view a larger version.

These financial changes will take effect on January 1, 2023. Worse still, the changes will apply to developments based on when they’re approved by Council or the OLT, not based on when they first applied. Here in Don Valley North, we have development applications that are being held up at the OLT until as late as June 2023. Bill 108 means that if one of these developers had offered, for example, $2.5 million for community impacts when they applied in 2022, by the time the OLT hearing is complete in 2023 the developer will only have to pay about $850,000. I can’t stress enough how much of a loss this is for our community. The second change has to deal with the appeals process itself. I understand that any Provincial government needs an appeals process. However, we need to ask ourselves who these rule changes are made for. In this case, the changes seem like they are very much for developers and not for the community. To give a brief history lesson, in my time as Councillor the Provincial process for development appeals has gone from terrible, to slightly better, to really promising, and now we’re right back to terrible. It’s also gone through several name changes. The old Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) conducted what were called De Novo hearings, where they would consider an application from scratch and ignore any work that had been done with the community. Most OMB decisions were in favour of the developer. In 2017, the OMB was abolished and replaced with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). Let me tell you, City planners jumped for joy when they heard the news. The new LPAT would only let developers appeal if they could prove that a municipality had made a legal error or contradicted the Province’s planning policy. Even more significantly, the LPAT required developers and cities to work together until a mutually agreed upon settlement could be reached on all planning appeals.

With the announcement of Bill 108 in 2019, our current Provincial government cut the collaborative LPAT process off at the knees when it had barely had time to prove itself. The LPAT was replaced with the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), which had several negative impacts on local planning. This included, but was not limited to:

  1. Requiring citizens who participate in OLT hearings to retain a professional and bring proper evidence according to policy, making it much, much harder for residents to be involved in the appeals process.

  2. Lowering the bar for filing an appeal, so that developers no longer have to prove an error in law. This effectively brings back the De Novo hearings from the OMB days.

  3. Reducing the amount of time an applicant has to wait to file an appeal, and reducing the amount of time a City is afforded to respond. Here in Don Valley North, we’ve already seen developers rush to file appeals before the community process has wrapped up.

  4. Introducing punitive legislation for Cities, requiring them to refund part or all of a developer’s application fees if the City does not respond within 120 days.

That last rule change, #4, has massive impacts here in Toronto. Currently, your local city planner costs you zero property tax dollars. When a developer applies, their application fees include the cost of reviewing the application, conducting a community consultation process, and engaging any additional professional advice as needed. For a large, high-density application like Bayview Village Mall, for instance, the application fee might be as much as $400,000. This year, Toronto will take in roughly $42 million in planning revenues to support our Planning department that is 470 strong. However, once these Bills come into effect, we risk losing all of that application fee revenue if City staff don’t get back to the applicant within 120 days. This means that City Planning will have to drastically reduce the amount of time they spend getting professional advice from Transportation Services, Toronto Water, TTC, and other departments. It will also reduce the amount of time they spend in community consultation.

The Provincial election is your chance to tell every party that you want developers held accountable and want neighbourhoods to have a say in the planning process.


The bottom line is that these changes will have massive ramifications for our city and our neighbourhoods. They mean developers are paying less for the growth at your expense, and that you have less of a say in the planning process. The Provincial Government did not seek your input, or mine, before introducing these changes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tell them how you feel now. Election Day is coming up, and this is your chance to let every party looking for your vote know that you don’t want your neighbourhood voice curtailed in the planning process and that you don’t want your hard-earned property tax dollars spent to save developers money. Growth should pay for growth, and developers should be held to account.

 

Planning & Development Updates

Coming to North York Community Council – May 24, 2022

3377 Bayview Avenue (Tyndale University)

Markee Developments and Tyndale University have filed an Ontario Land Tribunal appeal. As a result, City Planning and City Legal staff have written a Request for Directions report that recommends that Council direct City staff to attend in opposition to the application in its current form. In the report, City Planning outlines a number of issues, including but not limited to height, massing, parkland, heritage impact, site organization, and natural heritage conservation. As part of the OLT appeal process, the City will continue conversations with Markee and Tyndale to address these issues. The full Request for Directions report can be viewed here.


Interested parties can submit their feedback directly to North York Community Council on this item via email by clicking the report link above and clicking "Submit Comments" button at the top of the page.


Ultimately, the Ontario Land Tribunal is now the decision-making authority for this proposal. Residents interested in learning more about participating in the Ontario Land Tribunal process can access the Tribunal's own guide for participation here.


23 - 29 Greenbriar Road

A new development application on the east side of Greenbriar Road, south of Sheppard, is proposing to replace four two-storey rental buildings with a 10-storey residential building with 169 units, including the required 22 rental replacement units. The Preliminary Report, which outlines the application and only requests for City Planning to come out to consult with the community, is available here.


The meeting is currently being scheduled for some time in June. Notices will be mailed out by the City Clerk and we will include the registration details for the virtual meeting in a future E-Blast. Should you have any questions about the process for this application, please don't hesitate to be in touch. You can also sign-up for site-specific updates at the link in the title above.


For questions on the specifics of the application, you may contact the City's Planner reviewing the application directly: Michelle.Charkow@toronto.ca


Upcoming Community Meetings

City Planning staff will be hosting a number of virtual community meetings in the coming weeks to hear from residents about development applications in/around the ward and the Official Plan Review. You can join each meeting online (via WebEx) or call in by phone. Registration links are below:


22-36 Greenbriar Road

Wednesday, May 25 @ 6:30 PM

This application proposes the redevelopment of the eight existing 2-storey semi-detached dwellings with a new 24-storey residential building containing 351 dwelling units.


Please register here and you will receive further instructions by email.


500 Sheppard Avenue East:

Monday, June 6 @ 7:00 PM

This application proposes the redevelopment of the site with a 35- and 39-storey mixed use building with a total of 928 dwelling units.


Please register here and you will receive further instructions by email.


Official Plan Review – North York Town Hall

Monday, May 30 @ 6:00 PM

The City of Toronto is updating the Official Plan for Toronto 2051. The Official Plan is a City Planning document that acts as Toronto’s road map for land use and development. It sets out a long-term vision, shared values, and policies that help guide decision-making on land development, economic growth, the environment, and more.


Please register here and you will receive further instructions by email.


As always, our office will keep you informed and involved after the initial community consultation on each application.


 

Upcoming Vaccine Clinics in Don Valley North

Oriole Community Centre (2975 Don Mills Rd. W.) &

Parkway Forest Community Centre (55 Forest Manor Rd.)

North York General Hospital is running two walk-in vaccine clinics in our area in May and June:

  • Oriole Community Centre every Wednesday (12:00 - 3:00 PM) and Thursday (4:00 - 7:30 PM)

  • Parkway Forest Community Centre every Wednesday (4:00 - 7:30 PM)

First, second, third, and fourth doses are available for those eligible. For more information, visit the link below:



 


Meet Anne Lalonde, our Don Valley Northerner of the Week! Anne has been a volunteer with Meals on Wheels for nearly 20 years, delivering nutritious meals to vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities here in Don Valley North and across the city. Anne's commitment to improving food access in our neighbourhoods and looking out for those who are most in need is truly admirable.








Nominate a Neighbour!

Do you know someone in your neighbourhood who makes a difference? Nominate them for Don Valley Northerner of the Week!


To submit a nomination, please send a short blurb (~100 words) about the person you are nominatingto councillor_carroll@toronto.ca. My team will contact you if we select your nominee as Don Valley Northerner of the Week!

 

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