Development

Guide to the Committee of Adjustment

Renovations and new builds are a common feature on the streets of Ward 15. Many of these developments require the approval of the Committee of Adjustment, the citizen member board which holds public hearings on minor variance and consent applications in the City of Toronto.

Over my tenure as a City Councillor, I've worked closely with the Ward 15 community to improve accessibility and transparency for residents participating in the Committee of Adjustment process. Though we have made significant progress on this issue, we have a long way to go. I am continuing to advocate for much-needed improvements to the CoA and would welcome additional community feedback.

Last month, Ward 15 set a new record for Committee of Adjustment applications, with a total of 28 separate applications on the June agenda. You can view all of Ward 15's recent and upcoming Committee of Adjustment applications in map format, available on my website, here.

The City of Toronto's general guide to the Committee of Adjustment, available here, is a great resource for neighbours looking to get involved. As a result of motions I put forward this year in consultation with local ratepayers associations, City Planning now has a webpage with further information about Committee of Adjustment processes and participation, available here.

A useful starting point for anyone interested in development is the Application Information Centre (AIC). The AIC is the database for all areas of development projects in the City, including Committee of Adjustment applications, and is availablehere.

The AIC includes all materials that will be considered by the Committee, including the Zoning Notice, architectural plans, and land surveys. Any additional materials, including letters from the community or reports from City Staff, are uploaded periodically in advance of the scheduled hearing date.

In addition to attending and speaking at the hearing, submitting a letter to the Committee is an effective way to share your thoughts on an application. Should you wish to provide feedback to the Committee, letters or memos can be addressed to the Committee of Adjustment, or, if you'd prefer to use a formal letterhead format, to:

Daniel Antonacci
Manager & Deputy Secretary Treasurer
North York Committee of Adjustment
5100 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M2N 5V7

Letters and materials should also be submitted to the Application Technician assigned to the file. The Application Technician's name and contact information can be found on the Application Information Centre Page for the property. Letters can also include visual materials, such as photos of your property, the neighbourhood, drawings or diagrams. In the event you submit a letter to the CoA, please copy councillor_robinson@toronto.ca so I can stay informed. As a general guideline, I would recommend submitting the materials 5 business days in advance of the hearing date.

As the number and scope of Committee of Adjustment applications continue to increase in Ward 15, community engagement in the development review process is becoming more important than ever.

School Capacity in Ward 15

Even though summer has just begun, it (unfortunately) won't be long until the families of Don Valley West begin preparing for the upcoming school year. Limited school capacity is a critical issue for families across Ward 15, particularly in the neighbourhoods immediately north and south of Eglinton Avenue. While building new schools remains within the jurisdiction of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), I've worked closely with the TDSB to pursue new strategies to address school capacity issues in Ward 15 and across Toronto.

After a monumental community effort opposing the tower development at John Fisher Public School, the TDSB implemented a new policy to ensure they are involved in the evaluation of major development applications. In many cases, this means actively opposing development applications in neighbourhoods where the existing school capacity is not sufficient to accommodate new students in the area. I have raised the issue of school capacity during the development review process on several occasions but without direct involvement from the TDSB. Going forward, I'm optimistic that the TDSB's support will help us to secure better outcomes for our communities.

Over the past eight years, I've been advocating for a moratorium, or "hold", on development in neighbourhoods where there is inadequate infrastructure, community amenities, and schools to support a growing population. Last month, North York Community Council received a letter from the TDSB requesting a hold on the approval of a development proposal in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood for the first time. The TDSB's letter cited the lack of schools in the area and requested a pause on the application until it could be determined that there was sufficient school capacity to support the additional density.

As you may know, Provincial legislation prevents the TDSB from collecting educational development charges (EDCs). The current regulations prevent school boards with excess capacity in any area from accessing the money that developers pay to the schools' system when they build new sites. Due to declining enrollment in certain parts of Toronto, the TDSB will never meet this essential requirement. Funding from development charges could be used to improve school capacity in high-growth areas and support urgent school infrastructure needs.

Until we see major change on this front, I will continue to work with the TDSB to respond to development applications on a case-by-case basis in our neighbourhood. It's critical to ensure that the City has adequate hard and soft infrastructure to support additional residential density before issuing building permits.

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I was honoured to speak at the graduating ceremonies of several esteemed schools in Ward 15. I wish all the graduates of Bedford Park Public School, Hodgson Middle School, Northlea Public School, and Leaside High School (as well as those whose graduation I did not attend!) the very best in the next chapter of their lives.

Opposing Bill 108

On May 2, 2019, the Province tabled Bill 108: More Homes, More Choice Act in the legislature. Bill 108 includes major amendments to the planning processes used to review development applications in the City of Toronto. These changes are incredibly discouraging and, if passed, will have a significant impact on the future of our neighbourhoods.
 
After years of hard work fighting to protect our neighbourhoods and improve the accountability of the planning process for local residents, the proposed changes are extremely disheartening.
 
Over the past eight years, I've moved countless motions to improve the local planning process for residents. As you know, I've been a vocal opponent of the OMB, a quasi-judicial Provincial body that makes the final decision on development applications appealed in Toronto. From the townhouses on Bayview to the high-rises along Eglinton, most of the development applications in Ward 15 have been appealed to and approved by this unelected, unaccountable body.
 
In spring 2017, after significant advocacy from residents across Toronto – including many groups in Ward 15 – the province announced sweeping changes to the development appeal process through Bill 139. This legislation replaced the OMB with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), a true appeal body with limited power to overrule municipal decisions, and enacted new policies to give communities a stronger voice in the planning process.

If passed, the new provincial legislation, Bill 108, will walk back many of the neighbourhood-planning based reforms we fought for as a community. Significantly, this includes a return to the former OMB rules and procedures. Instead of reviewing appeals based on the existing, rigorously researched municipal and provincial planning policies, the revised LPAT would be able to issue a decision on a development independent of the municipalities and neighbourhoods affected.

Bill 108 proposes to reinstitute “de novo” hearings, or hearings started anew without reference to the City’s decision on an application. This change will limit the City’s ability to deny development applications and instead will expand the authority of the province to make decisions that impact our local neighbourhoods, without any consultation. The proposed legislation is essentially a reversion to the format of the former OMB hearings under the new LPAT name.
 
Bill 108 also proposes a major reduction in planning decision timelines. The proposed legislation would reduce timelines for consideration of Zoning Bylaw Amendment (ZBA) applications from 150 to 90 days and Official Plan Amendment (OPA) applications from 210 to 120 days. Reducing the time planners have to review applications and report to City Council will ultimately allow applicants the ability to appeal to the more developer-friendly LPAT system much earlier in the process, thereby circumventing the City’s rigorous development review process.
 
Additionally, Bill 108 proposes significant changes to the development charge process. Currently, under Sections 37 and 42 of the Planning Act, developers are required to contribute to neighbourhoods being affected by new development through financial provisions for community benefits such as parks, streetscape improvements, and neighbourhood services. Bill 108 proposes a provincially-determined cap on all parkland and community-related development charges.
 
At the May meeting of City Council, I introduced a series of successful motions:

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While the Province closed the official comment period on June 1, allowing less than a month for the public to respond to Bill 108, the City has requested the Province to provide more time for feedback. The City has also released a comprehensive report detailing the implications of Bill 108. You can access the full report here. In response to my Council motion, an online website and public guide is now available here.
 
I would encourage you to continue to share your thoughts on this concerning legislation with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing at minister.mah@ontario.ca.

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Along with my colleagues on City Council, I hosted a Planning Town Hall to discuss the impacts that Bill 108 will have on the City's development review process.  There was a fantastic turn-out at the meeting and Chief Planner Gregg Lintern kicked off the evening with a presentation on how the proposed legislation will affect Toronto's neighbourhoods.

Along with my colleagues on City Council, I hosted a Planning Town Hall to discuss the impacts that Bill 108 will have on the City's development review process.

There was a fantastic turn-out at the meeting and Chief Planner Gregg Lintern kicked off the evening with a presentation on how the proposed legislation will affect Toronto's neighbourhoods.

Update on the Province's Bill 108: More Homes, More Choices Act

After years of hard work and advocacy fighting to protect our local neighbourhoods and abolish the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), I'm extremely disheartened to be writing with an update on the Province's Bill 108: More Homes, More Choice Act, tabled in the legislature late yesterday afternoon.
 
Bill 108 includes major amendments to the planning processes used to review development applications in the City of Toronto. These changes are incredibly discouraging and, if passed, will have a significant impact on the future of our neighbourhoods.
 
Over the past eight years, I've moved countless motions to make our local planning processes more accessible and transparent for residents. As you know, I've been a vocal opponent of the OMB, a quasi-judicial Provincial body that makes the final decision on development applications appealed in Toronto. From the townhouses on Bayview to the towers at Yonge and Eglinton, most of the development applications in Ward 15 have been appealed to and approved by this unelected, unaccountable body.
 
In spring 2017, after significant advocacy from residents across Toronto – including many groups in Ward 15 – the Province announced sweeping changes to the development appeal process through Bill 139. This legislation replaced the OMB with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), a true appeal body with limited power to overrule municipal decisions, and enacted new policies to give communities a stronger voice in the planning process.
 
If passed, the new provincial legislation, Bill 108, will walk back many of the reforms we fought for as a community, including:
 
A return to the former OMB rules and procedures. While the LPAT would continue to function as the provincial development appeal body, the Province is proposing changes in line with the former OMB structure. This legislation would reinstitute "de novo" hearings, or hearings started anew without reference to the City's decision on an application. The Bill would also allow parties to introduce new evidence and to call and examine witnesses. The LPAT will issue a decision independent of the municipalities and neighbourhoods affected instead of reviewing appeals in the context of existing municipal plans and provincial planning policies. 
 
This change would reduce the weight of planning decisions made by City Council and expand the authority of provincial LPAT appointees to make decisions that impact our local neighbourhoods, without any consultation. The proposed changes are essentially a reversion back to the format of the former OMB hearings under the new LPAT name.
 
Changes to development charges. Under the current structure, Section 37 of the Planning Act, known as Community Benefits, requires developers to contribute to the neighbourhoods affected by new developments through provisions for community benefits such as park and streetscape improvements.
 
This system has been used to fund community projects and services across Toronto. Bill 108 proposes to make the costs more predictable for developers at the outset of the process by instituting a new authority that would combine and cap all community-related development charges. Parkland Dedication requirements, known as Section 42 funds, and funds to enhance local infrastructure would also be included in the total capped amount. This change would severely limit the City's ability to negotiate community benefits before approving an application.
 
Streamlining development approvals. The proposed planning decision timelines would reduce consideration of Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) applications from 150 to 90 days, and Official Plan Amendment (OPA) applications from 210 to 120 days.
 
Reducing the time Planners have to review applications and report to City Council will ultimately allow applicants the ability to appeal to the more developer-friendly LPAT system much earlier in the process, thereby circumventing the City's rigorous development review process.
 
Over the coming weeks, I will be working closely with senior staff as we develop the City's formal response to the Province's proposed legislation.
 
If you are interested, I would encourage you to review Bill 108 and the associated Action Plan and share any concerns with your Member of Provincial Parliament.
 
You can submit your comments on Bill 108 through the Environmental Registry of Ontario, here. I've been advised that the Province will only be accepting comments until June 1, 2019, so we must act quickly.
 
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

The Province’s LPASC is Closing

Last spring, the Province’s Local Planning Appeal Support Centre (LPASC) was introduced to provide expert advice and legal assistance to residents participating in the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) development appeal process. The LPASC was an integral part of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) reform passed by the Provincial Legislature in 2017.

In February, the Province suddenly announced that they would be permanently closing the LPASC. Effective immediately, the Centre will no longer be accepting new requests from the public.

Like many of you, I was shocked and disappointed by the Province’s decision. At the February meeting of City Council, I supported a motion strongly opposing the closure of the LPASC. In my remarks, I spoke at length about the lack of accessibility and transparency for residents participating in complex and expensive proceedings at the LPAT, formerly known as the OMB.

The appeal process is difficult to navigate and often leaves engaged neighbours feeling like they are in a David and Goliath battle against powerful, well-funded developers. While professional developers can assemble large teams of qualified experts, the costs of participating in LPAT mediation or hearings are often prohibitive for concerned neighbours and associations. I would encourage you to reach out to the Premier and Minister of Municipal Affairs to share your concerns about this decision.

Protecting our Leaside Business Park

The Leaside Business Park is a major industrial park in the heart of Toronto, with direct access to the Don Valley Parkway and Highway 401.
 
Since October's election, I've heard from neighbours across Leaside concerned about the future of the Business Park. Specifically, many Leasiders want to ensure that planning policies will protect the Park from an influx of condo buildings and other residential developments.
 
In January, the Government of Ontario announced their plans to introduce new amendments to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017. The Province proposed the implementation of a new designation, Provincially Significant Employment Zones (PSEZ), but only extended it to 67% of Toronto's current Employment Areas.
 
While the 67% percent of lands would receive additional protections, the remaining 33% could potentially be "unlocked" for redevelopment. The Leaside Business Park was not designated a PSEZ in the Province's initial plan.
 
My office caught this issue early and developed a strategy to ensure the Leaside Business Park would be included in City staff's recommendations to the Province. I am pleased to report that our efforts paid off and City Council adopted the staff report requesting the Province to designate the Leaside Business Park a PSEZ. In my remarks, I highlighted the importance of use compatibility and reiterated my commitment to protecting our Business Parks from residential incursions.
 
Though City Council has submitted their comments and recommendations on the proposed amendments, the ultimate decision lies with the Government of Ontario.
 
When I met with the Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, I request ed that the Province include the Leaside Business Park as a PSEZ in their final amendments to the Growth Plan. I specifically articulated the value of the employment provided by the Leaside Business Park and advocated for its continued protection.

The Minister seemed receptive to my comments and I am cautiously optimistic that the Province will make the changes necessary for the continued protection of Toronto's valued Employment Areas. Thank you to the Leaside Business Park Association (LPBA) and Leaside Property Owners' Association (LPOA) for their ongoing support.

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Update on the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan

As many of you know, I've been a vocal opponent of the out-of-control pace of development in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood. In the absence of a comprehensive and up-to-date Secondary Plan, development in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood has gone unchecked by the Province for many years.
 
The negative consequences of this rapid intensification include overcrowded transit, constant construction, traffic congestion, lack of sunlight, significant dust, and lack of green space.
 
Last summer, City Council voted to approve the new Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan, Official Plan Amendment (OPA) 405. You can read more about our community's successful efforts to amend the Secondary Plan and reduce the permitted building heights on my website, here.
 
The Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan requires approval by the Minister of Municipal Affairs before officially coming into effect. We've been advised that the Minister has recently extended his time period to make a decision until June 6, 2019.
 
In light of this impending deadline, I met with the Minister of Municipal Affairs immediately to advise him of our collective efforts on this file over the past eight years. While I cannot predict the Minister's ultimate decision with any certainty, he listened closely to my summary of the community's concerns. Specifically, we discussed how the flood of Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) approvals in this neighbourhood has placed an immense amount of pressure on our existing infrastructure.
 
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the residents of the north-east quadrant of Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood for your support throughout this process.

A Discouraging Update – The LPASC is Closing

In my last newsletter, I provided a brief introduction to the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre (LPASC). The LPASC was introduced to level the playing field for residents participating in the development appeal process.  
 
In February, the Province announced their decision to close the LPASC permanently. Effective immediately, the Centre will no longer be accepting new requests from the public.
 
Like many of you, I was shocked and disappointed by the Province's decision. At the February meeting of City Council, I endorsed the following motion:
 
That City Council advise the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that the City objects to the closure of the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre.
 
In my remarks to Council, I spoke at length about the lack of accessibility and transparency for residents participating in the complex and expensive development appeal process. The process is difficult to navigate and often leaves engaged neighbours feeling like they are in a David and Goliath battle against powerful, well-funded developers.
 
While professional developers can assemble large teams of qualified experts, the costs of participating in an OMB mediation or hearing are often prohibitive for concerned neighbours and residents' associations.
 
I would encourage you to reach out to the Premier and Minister of Municipal Affairs to share your concerns about this decision.

Provincial OMB Reform - Local Planning Appeal Support Centre (LPASC)

After many long years fighting against the Ontario Municipal Board, I am pleased to report that, as of April 3, 2018, all new planning appeals will be directed to the new Local Planning Appeals Tribunal.

My overriding concern with the prior OMB process was the lack of accessibility and transparency for residents. While developers can assemble large teams of qualified experts, the costs of participating in an OMB mediation or hearing were prohibitive for concerned neighbours and residents' associations. 
 
The planning reform legislation passed by the Province in December 2017 implemented new Local Planning Appeal Support Centres (LPASC) to provide free advice and support to residents on local planning matters.
 
In April, the Toronto LPASC opened its doors to the public for the first time. The LPASC is an independent agency of the Province of Ontario, accountable to a board of directors. The stated purpose of the organization is to help "people understand and navigate the land use planning and appeal process in Ontario." Chapter 4 of the LPSCA Act (2017) outlines the following support services:
 
1. Information on land use planning.
2. Guidance on Tribunal procedures.
3. Advice or representation.
4. Any other services prescribed by the regulations. 

I would encourage all residents concerned about a development application in their neighbourhood to contact the LPASC for more information about the appeal process. If applicable, the LPASC will also provide planning and legal support in certain cases.
 
Hours: Monday – Friday
            8:30am – 5:00pm
 
Address: 700 Bay Street, 12th Floor
 
Telephone: 647-499-1646 or Toll-free: 1-800-993-8410
 
Email: info@lpasc.ca
 
Web: www.lpasc.ca
 
If you are interested, you can read more about improvements to the land use planning and appeals system, here.

A New Plan to Regulate Construction Dust

Dust from residential construction is not only a major source of disruption, it can also have significant environmental and health impacts on our communities. With input from residents across Don Valley West, I moved a motion in May 2014 directing Toronto Building staff to develop a comprehensive strategy and enforcement plan to regulate the production of construction-related dust.
 
As a result of these efforts, I'm pleased to report that the City's first Dust By-law came into effect on September 4, 2018. Previously, construction dust was completely unregulated in the City of Toronto. Residents who contacted their political representatives were bounced between municipal and provincial offices with no tangible results or enforcement.
 
The new bylaw requires builders to take specific, preventative measures to minimize the generation and distribution of construction dust, including:

  • Wetting the construction material;

  • Using a wet saw or dustless saw technology;

  • Tarping or otherwise containing the source of dust;

  • Installing wind fencing or a fence filter; or

  • Using a vacuum attachment when cutting.

Failure to comply can lead to fines up to $100,000, with special fines where it is determined that the conduct could have resulted in economic advantage for the offender, to the detriment of the surrounding neighbourhood.
 
At the July meeting of City Council, I moved a series of motions to build on and strengthen the newly-established by-law. I directed Toronto Building to unite this strategy with the new residential infill construction strategy, and ensure that notice of the new bylaw is communicated to residents through on-site signage. As you may know, residential construction is regulated and enforced by Toronto Building inspectors. Dust suppression, however, will be enforced by Municipal Licensing & Standards by-law officers. My motion is intended to link the two departments to prevent overlap and encourage efficiency.
 
I also directed City staff to expand the scope of the City's dust regulation efforts by creating a strategy to regulate dust from large-scale construction projects including multi-residential buildings, subdivisions, and mixed-use developments. Finally, I requested a report back on the implementation and enforcement of the new bylaw. I'm expecting a staff report to be presented for consideration at City Council later this year. 

Housing: News from City Council

As most Torontonians will tell you, Toronto is a world class city and a great place to live. As our city continues to grow and attract new residents based on this reputation, it is important that we also take a close look at our housing needs.

At City Council last week, City Staff presented on the Housing Now initiative – a plan to address issues around affordable housing. As we know, Toronto's continued growth will place an increasing pressure on existing affordable housing. This plan, with the support of council, will unlock 11 City-owned properties to create 3,700 new affordable housing units by 2024. City Council approval is the first of many steps in this process, and residents will be consulted as planning on this project continues.

A New Secondary Plan for the Yonge-Eglinton Neighbourhood - Great News!

I've been a vocal opponent of the out-of-control pace of development in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood at City Council for many years. The Yonge-Eglinton Urban Growth Centre (UGC) is the most densely populated UGC in the Greater Golden horseshoe and ranks among the densest communities in Canada. Over the past several years, I've repeatedly asked the Chief Planner for a moratorium on new development applications until the City's infrastructure is improved to accommodate the rapid influx of new residents.
 
In the absence of a comprehensive and up-to-date Secondary Plan, development in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood has gone unchecked by the Province for many years. The negative consequences of this rapid intensification include overcrowded transit, constant construction, traffic congestion, lack of sunlight, significant dust, and lack of green space. In 2015, I moved a motion directing City staff to expand their study of the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood to address infrastructure capacity issues in the area.
 
On June 7, 2018, City Planning staff's new Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan was presented to the Planning and Growth Management Committee. While the Secondary Plan included many beneficial policies, I was very concerned by the permitted building heights proposed for the north-east quadrant of Yonge and Eglinton. If City staff's plan was adopted, building heights on Broadway Avenue, Roehampton Avenue and Eglinton Avenue would range from 32 to 56 storeys. I introduced a motion calling for further community consultation to ensure that the new Secondary Plan accurately reflected our vision for the future of this neighbourhood.
 
I assembled a working group of neighbours to create a revised plan lowering the permitted building heights in the north-east quadrant of Yonge-Eglinton to between 15 and 20 storeys. After an overwhelming show of community support, the Planning and Growth Management (PGM) Committee voted unanimously in favour of my motion to adopt reduced building heights on July 5, 2018. While the PGM Committee's decision was an important step forward, the amended Secondary Plan still needed to be considered by Toronto City Council.
 
In the interim weeks, the City received hundreds of letters from residents of the north-east quadrant asking City Council to support PGM Committee's decision to adopt our Option #3. I spent countless hours discussing the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan with my colleagues on City Council. I'm very pleased to report that as a result of our collective efforts, City Council voted in favour of the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan – Option #3.
 

When I first moved a motion asking for further consultation, I could never have predicted the unprecedented outpouring of community support for Option #3. The adoption of the amended Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan was an outstanding accomplishment for an area experiencing rapid intensification. This long-term Secondary Plan will shape the future of our neighbourhood for years to come. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this process—I am so proud of what we have achieved in just a few short months.

The Impacts of Lane Occupancy on City Streets

Lane occupations, whether related to development activity, utility work or capital works projects contribute significantly to congestion throughout the city. When space on the roadway has been permitted for construction purposes, transportation patterns are impacted, creating traffic and safety issues.
 
This term, I moved a motion directing Engineering & Construction Services and Transportation Services to report on the use of traffic management plans and street occupancy approvals to address traffic disruptions from construction projects.
 
Upon receiving this report, I requested that staff provide additional options to shorten the duration of street occupations, including escalating fees and increasing fees at the time of renewal. I also requested that staff consider imposing fees for congestion-related economic impacts, such as the city's time and productivity losses associated with lane occupations.
 
As a result, instead of a citywide flat fee, permit fee rates were changed to be based on the market rate for space on public roadways as informed by on-street metered parking rates. Although this was a step forward, there is still more work to be done.

Construction staging areas that occupy the curb lane, as most on-road occupations do, constrain the movement of vehicles in pinch points that can result in acute traffic congestion, particularly if several streets in the same area have concurrent lane closures.

As well, in December 2017, at the joint Licensing and Standards and Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, I requested Municipal Licensing and Standards with Transportation Services to address construction trucks and other vehicles parking on pedestrian sidewalks during construction projects.

I will continue to advocate for increased fees and penalties and a reduction in the number and duration of lane restrictions throughout the City of Toronto. We must reduce congestion on our City's streets and ensure safe walking routes for pedestrians.

Toronto's Congestion Management Plan

Traffic congestion is a major issue in Ward 25 and across the City of Toronto. According to C.D. Howe, congestion and gridlock could be costing our City up to $11 billion a year in lost productivity. I've repeatedly pushed to advance the Congestion Management Plan (CMP) to better manage gridlock by reducing delays and improving safety through innovations in policy, operations, and technology.
 
Since adopting the CMP in 2013, the City has undertaken several new projects to manage unusual traffic flows due to events, construction, or weather-related road closures. In 2017, the City partnered with the University of Toronto to pilot drones used to monitor diverted traffic during major planned events and adapt traffic signal cycles accordingly. For Ward 25 residents commuting to downtown, City staff are now in the process of designing a comprehensive strategy to facilitate traffic on the Bayview Avenue Extension during closures of the Don Valley Parkway and potential Lower Don River flooding events. 
 
Transportation staff are working to improve traffic signal systems throughout the City. Last year alone, 46 CCTV traffic monitoring cameras were installed, with another 120 planned for 2019 and 2020. Our state-of-the-art Traffic Operations Centre uses these cameras to monitor traffic conditions in real-time and adjust signs and signals. Another 129 detection devices were installed to efficiently operate traffic control signals this year. The City is currently implementing a full Traffic Signal Coordination plan to improve traffic flow and reduce vehicle emissions.
 
The City has made significant strides forward in their collection of big data to inform traffic operations. The City's Big Data Innovation Team incorporates this data in their Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), which will be used to inform directional signs throughout the City. The Team is also currently working to develop Open Data Portal access to the City's real-time traffic signal control timings.
 
Though City staff are working to implement a number of new projects in addition to those listed above, traffic congestion remains a pressing issue in the City of Toronto. I've moved a number of motions at Community Council to improve traffic flow on our local streets and welcome any feedback or suggestions you may have.

Prioritizing the Downtown Relief Line

I ride the red rocket regularly on my commute to City Hall and observe first-hand the significant reliability and capacity issues on Line 1. I know all-to-well how frustrating overcrowding, sudden stoppages, and unforeseen delays can be for Ward 25-ers travelling to and from the downtown core. During peak hours, riders have to wait for multiple trains to pass by before there even is enough space to board the subway. These issues affect all three major transit stations in Ward 25: York Mills, Lawrence, and Eglinton. 
  
Since 2010, I've consistently advocated for the Downtown Relief Line and continue to believe that it should be City Council's top transit priority. As you may know, the Downtown Relief Line was divided into two separate projects, the Relief Line South (from Pape Station south to Queen Street) and the Relief Line North (from Pape Station north to Eglinton or Sheppard Avenue) in 2017. At Executive Committee, I moved a motion directing staff to accelerate planning of the Relief Line North.  
  
After several recent Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) approvals the population of the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood is due to grow exponentially. This influx of new residents will only exacerbate the existing issues on Line 1. As part of the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan, I created a motion with the Chair of Planning and Growth Management directing City staff to develop short and long-term strategies to ease crowding on Line 1. We also asked staff to report back on the feasibility of delivering the Relief Line North and South as one undertaking to improve transit connectivity across the City.  
  
Like many of you, I am very frustrated by the long delays and mounting costs associated with the Automatic Train Control (ATC) project. At City Council, I directed TTC staff to expedite the implementation of this much-needed technology. In response to the unacceptable delay, I also initiated a comprehensive review of the entire TTC organization focused on creating a more efficient, streamlined internal structure. While this process has been extremely slow, I look forward to the positive benefits of this technology. ATC will control train speed and separation automatically, without human intervention—significantly reducing travel time. When fully implemented, it is estimated that ATC will increase Line 1 capacity by cutting train headways from 2.5 to 2 minutes.  

City Council has approved the alignment and station locations for the Relief Line South.

City Council has approved the alignment and station locations for the Relief Line South.

City staff are currently studying the alignment and potential station locations for the Relief Line North.

City staff are currently studying the alignment and potential station locations for the Relief Line North.

Yonge Eglinton Secondary Plan Update

UPDATE: I'm pleased to announce that the Planning and Growth Management Committee voted unanimously in favour of my motion to adopt Option #3 – 20 and 15-storeys.
 
Thank you to everyone who wrote letters and attended the Committee meeting on July 5. I'm so impressed by how quickly the community mobilized around this issue—the Committee received almost 100 letters in support of Option #3. This an unprecedented victory for the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood that I will continue to fight for at City Council on July 23-25. 
 
I've included my letter asking the Planning and Growth Management Committee to support Option #3 below.

Improvements to the Committee of Adjustment

Many Ward 25 neighbours can relate to the experience of receiving a Committee of Adjustment (CoA) public notice in their mailboxes. Over the past eight years, CoA application volume has increased by approximately 96%, leading to significant deviations from the zoning by-law outside of the downtown core.  
 
Ward 25 is no exception to this concerning trend—there are a growing number of applications requesting long lists of variances from the established zoning by-law. Since January 2018, the CoA has considered 116 minor variance and consent applications for properties in Ward 25.
 
In 2014, I moved a series of motions intended to improve the CoA process and make it more accessible and transparent for residents. My motions were inspired and informed by feedback I received from the residents of Ward 25. Over the past four years, the City has implemented several new initiatives, including the following:

  • Application information is now posted months in advance of the hearing date on theApplication Information Centre. The CoA website also includes a FAQ page, Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) information, and key staff contacts.

  • CoA hearings are now video-recorded and are made available to the public upon request. City staff recently began livestreaming Toronto & East York district hearings in February 2018. City staff estimate that livestreaming will begin at North York Civic Centre in fall 2018.

  • Additional full-time and temporary City staff are being hired to review and make recommendations on CoA applications. City Planning now generates reports for close to 50% of the applications received.

  • City staff have implemented an enhanced training process for committee members including periodic training on key issues.

  • Practices and policies are being harmonized across the four districts.

Though we have made progress over the past four years, we have a long way to go. I am continuing to advocate for much-needed improvements to the CoA and would welcome additional community feedback. If you have any suggestions or comments, please contact my office at 416-395-6408 or councillor_robinson@toronto.ca.

Midtown in Focus - Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan

At the Planning and Growth Management Committee meeting in June, City Planning staff presented their recommended Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan. This Final Report was informed by the Midtown in Focus Planning Study which began as a public realm exercise to improve parks, open space, and streetscapes in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood. In 2015, I directed staff to expand the scope of the study to include a review of the area's infrastructure capacity, including transit, water, schools and utility services.  

While I recognize that there are many useful aspects of the draft Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan, I am concerned by the proposed permitted building heights and the parkland deficit in the north-east quadrant. I've spent many hours over the past few weeks consulting with senior City Staff, Chair of the Planning and Growth Management Committee, and most importantly, concerned neighbours.
 
On my behalf, the Chair of the Planning and Growth Management Committee moved a motion to defer consideration of the item until another community meeting is held. This meeting is intended to specifically address the permitted building heights in the north-east quadrant and the lack of green space in the area.
 
I have included the details below:
 
DATE: Thursday, June 21, 2018
 
TIME: 6:30-8:30pm
 
LOCATION: The Roehampton Hotel, Eglinton Room
                        808 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON
 
I worked closely with the Chair to develop the long list of motions he moved at Planning and Growth Management Committee on June 7. These motions address a number of outstanding issues, in addition to those identified above, including:

  • Permitted Heights: Lowering the permitted building heights to reduce the proposed density in the north-east quadrant and directing staff to list the heights in metres, rather than storeys.
  • Infrastructure: Requesting a report back on the appropriate use of holding provisions to ensure that there is sufficient infrastructure in the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan Area.
  • Parks: Determining potential parkland sites in the north-east quadrant of the Secondary Plan Area.
  • Transit: Directing City Staff to conduct a further assessment of short and long term service improvements to ease crowding on Line 1 and to consider delivering the Relief Line North and South as one undertaking.
  • Schools: Requesting City Staff to meet with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Municipal Affairs to explore a funding strategy to support the timely provision of local school facilities.
  • Employment: Exploring opportunities to increase employment opportunities in the study area.

The full series of motions can be found online, here.
 
If you haven't already, please let me know your thoughts on the draft Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan. You can email me directly at councillor_robinson@toronto.ca.