Planning - Frequently Asked Questions

The City of Toronto has a Planning Divison and planning processes which are guided by the Province of Ontario's Planning Act. For planning studies and processes, City Planning Staff are the technical experts and make decisions on whether the development is appropriate. As the local Councillor, I host public consultations prior to the approval from City Council to ensure that the existing community's concerns are addressed and that the existing community's needs are met. The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) however can overrule anything Planning, residents or the Councillor recommends.

Why does the City allow people to make applications that don't fit into the neighbourhood?

The City cannot deny or prevent applications from being made. The Provincial Planning Act permits any owner to submit any Planning application it desires.  The City Planning Division's role is to evaluate the application(s) by applying City Council approved policies, guidelines and good planning principles to make recommendations to City Council, who will make the decisions regarding the application(s).

What is the difference between an Avenue Study, Planning Study, a Visioning Study and an Area Study? 

An Avenue Study is a comprehensive assessment of a significant length of a main street (usually 1 to 2 kilometres) identified as “Avenues” on Map 2-Urban Structure of the Toronto Official Plan.  The purpose of the Study is to determine if/where opportunities exist for reurbanization along the Avenue segment through extensive background analysis of elements including,  lot configuration and sizes, community services and facilities, heritage resources, massing analysis, shadow analysis, traffic considerations, public realm considerations, open space considerations, and infrastructure assessments. 

A Planning Study/Visioning Study/Area Study will rely on the terms of reference of the study relating to the elements being assessed.  These studies are generally not as comprehensive in scope, breadth or the level of background information to analyze.

When do you use a Secondary Plan? 

Secondary Plans are typically used for large geographic areas, which show signs of development pressure and require guidance for growth, redevelopment, reinvestment and renewal.  As Bloor Street West and Dundas Street West are typical “Avenues”, where the Official Plan already anticipates and encourages growth, as other Avenues throughout the City have experienced or are experiencing, a Secondary Plan is not an appropriate tool for limited and linear segments of this nature.

What is an Interim Control By-Law?

An Interim Control By-law (ICBL) is a tool used to rethink/evaluate existing uses permitted by the Zoning By-law. An ICBL is a special and powerful tool that requires a direction to undertake a study prior to the enactment of such a By-law. An Interim Control By-law is in effect for a one year period but can be extended for an additional year prior to the expiry of the initial one year term. Once an area is subject to an Interim Control By-law, another Interim Control By-law cannot be passed to apply to the area for a minimum three year period following the expiry of the By-law.With respect to the zoning affecting Bloor Street West and Dundas Street West, it currently permits a mix of residential and commercial uses that are appropriate for a Main Street. Given the current Official Plan policies that encourage reurbanization along the Avenues, it would not be appropriate to use an Interim Control By-law to limit land uses that the Official Plan encourages.

Can you explain what a Heritage Conservation District (HCD) is?  

An Heritage District Conservation (HCD) is a concentration of heritage resources with special character or historical association that distinguishes it from its surroundings. They are designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act. 

How does the City Planning Division decide when a study is carried out?

All planning studies are prioritized according to the Planning Division's City-wide work program. Prioritization of studies is very much dependant on staff capacity and funding resources secured through the capital budget process.  

Avenues & Mid-Rise

The Province Of Ontario modfied the land use regulatory environment in Ontario with the Places to Grow Act, the Provincial Policy Statement and later the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.  Since then, the City of Toronto completed the Avenues and Mid-Rise Building Study to provide guidance to implement Official Plan policies and to conform with the provincial policies for reurbanization along the Avenues (Urban Transit Corridors), while protecting lower scale uses that typically abut Avenues, such as those in Neighbourhoods. Dundas Street West and Bloor Street West are examples of Avenues found in the Ward.

A review of the Avenues and Mid-Rise Buildings Study is currently underway by a dedicated City planning project team. Public consultations have been undertaken as part of this review.

Why are the Mid-Rise Guidelines used like Policy, when they have the word "Guidelines" in them? 

The Avenues and Mid-Rise Buildings Performance Standards are used as guidelines by staff, and are not applied as policy.  They are an effective tool to shape building mass and height to achieve the desired objective of protecting abutting properties from impacts related to reurbanization on the Avenues

Where are things in terms of removing Toronto from the OMB, and what can residents do to expedite this?

The City of Toronto has been granted the ability to establish a Local Appeal Board (LAB) to consider appeals of Consents and Minor Variance applications.  A report in this regard is expected to be presented to the June 2015 Planning and Growth Management Committee by the City Manager.

The Province is currently undertaking a review of the Planning Act and Ontario Municipal Board. Residents wishing to comment on these reviews can do so through their local Member of Provincial Parliament or by writing to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. 

What is the City doing to ensure that demands on the infrastructure from new buildings are taken care of?

Site specific development applications must demonstrate that the proposal can be accommodated by the City’s existing transportation and hard infrastructure (water, waste water, and stormwater) services. The details of the evaluation and analysis are completed through the Site Plan Approval process, as the proposal is refined and finalized. Should any improvements to these services be required, the applicant is responsible to provide and or pay for the improvements.