Over the years, I've received countless emails from Ward 25 residents concerned about disruptive residential infill construction sites in their neighbourhoods.
At the June 2014 meeting of the Planning and Growth Management Committee, I moved a series of motions directing Toronto Building to improve the City's response to problematic sites and ensure that buildings are constructed according to approved plans and permissions.
Thanks to the invaluable input from Ward 25 residents, I was able to spearhead the development of a comprehensive, interdivisional Residential Infill Construction Strategy. The Strategy focuses on three major areas: streamlining the City's complaint management process, encouraging good construction practices, and improving communication with residents. Several aspects of this strategy have already been implemented, including:
- Additional Building Inspection—In 2017, Toronto Building implemented a required introductory inspection to set out expectations and consequences at the outset of the construction process.
- Inter-Divisional Working Group—Established to create a complaint tracking policy and procedure to enable the City to respond more quickly and effectively to resident complaints.
- As-built Survery—Builders are required to submit an as-built survey completed by a certified Ontario Land Surveyor prior to the construction of the first-floor walls to confirm the location and height of the building.
- Training for Inspectors—Building Inspectors are now being trained to recognize zoning issues to ensure that buildings are in compliance with approved plans and permits.
An update on the new Residential Infill Construction Strategy was adopted by the Planning and Growth Management Committee in May 2018. This update specifically included the recommendations to:
- Require builders to provide a public notice sign on site, including contact and building permit information. The purpose is to provide the public with a gateway to real-time information about permissions and enforcements. This policy will be enforced by requiring builders to submit a photo of the sign posted on site.
- Continue and expand the Dedicated Enforcement Unit, an inter-divisional unit to survey properties across the City and identify all outstanding issues. In the 2017 summer pilot program, 117 of the 139 sites that required follow-up achieved compliance within two weeks.
- Empower Toronto Building Inspectors to levy fines for construction fencing infractions. Currently, only Transportation Services or Municipal Licensing & Standards are able to enforce fencing by-laws. This amendment will make the inspection process more efficient, as only the Building Inspector will need to visit the site.
The Residential Infill Construction Strategy has also included the production of several new online and printed resources for Torontonians, including a dedicated residential infill construction website providing links to all relevant information. Residents can now find the current status of all building permits and inspections on the Building Permit Status page.
The Good Neighbour Guide and Homeowner's Guide to Building Permits are also fantastic resources for residents looking to learn more about residential infill construction in their neighbourhoods.
After four years, I am pleased to see the regulations inspired by my original motion finally being implemented. I'm hopeful that these initiatives will improve transparency and accessibility for Ward 25ers throughout the residential infill construction process