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Toronto’s harmonized zoning bylaw now in effect

September 2nd, 2010 · 3 Comments

By Perry King

At 9:47 p.m. on Aug. 25, Toronto city council voted 37–0 to approve the hotly debated harmonized zoning bylaw.

The new bylaw, arising from an eight-year harmonization exercise, now regulates the use of land and buildings, including their height, size, bulk, and location. Written with a common terminology and set of defined zoning terms, the bylaw consolidates 43 former bylaws that were grandfathered from pre-amalgamation Toronto.

The new bylaw maintains current development standards —like height and density—as much as possible in order to preserve and protect existing neighbourhoods.

Key parts of the bylaw include a transition protocol that aims to protect existing development permissions and prevent development application delays, and regulations that protect ravines.

The bylaw was the first item tabled by Mayor David Miller for city council’s last session before municipal elections in October. If the bylaw were not approved, the matter would have been deferred to a committee meeting in February 2011.

“Staff have laboured four years, invested some $7 million in that labour, to produce a document that will help this city prepare itself for the challenges of the 21st century,” said Councillor Norm Kelly (Ward 40, Scarborough-Agincourt), who chairs the Planning and Growth committee. “This is one of the foundation blocks of this city that will enable it to face the many and varied and complex challenges.”

In November 2009, the matter of approving the bylaw was deferred for further consultation and revision. Although a final draft was released in late May—and a final public meeting for June was arranged—the matter was further delayed because deputees exposed numerous problems with the bylaw.

In the final Planning and Growth management public meeting Aug. 19, 68 deputees, residents and lawyers—mostly representing commercial properties—brought forward their site-specific concerns.

Signe Leisk, a U of T legal representative, wanted clarification on how the bylaw would change the definition of a post-secondary institution. Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) said that a university plan was under way to assess the capacity for student housing for post-secondary institutions.

Adam Carson, who represents 20 fraternity and sorority houses in the Annex, had two objections: the matters of classifying these houses as rooming homes, and regulating these houses, which he said would interfere with the operation of the Greek houses. “These properties do not fall under the definition set out in the bylaw, and the planning act does not allow for class of property by association or gender,” he said.

Rules applying to rooming houses, including those set out for fraternity and sorority homes, are replicated from existing provisions in the new bylaw. Vaughan says the fraternity exemption was removed from the rooming house bylaw earlier this year.

“This bylaw will never be perfect. It’s the reason why we have the committee of adjustment, it’s the reason why we go through re-zonings. Every property owner wants exceptional conditions to apply to their property. This bylaw proposes to change some of the dynamics, the metrics, the language, to make it more consistent,” said Vaughan to city council. “There will be problems where people pull billing permits and suddenly realize that problems that they thought they wrapped up and approved suddenly trip into variances and we’re going to have to deal with it.”

Tags: News · General

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Vincent Clement // Sep 6, 2010 at 9:15 am

    For the record, the new by-law is not yet in effect.
    First, the City Clerk has to give written notice of passing of the by-law no later than 15 days after the by-law was passed. A 20-day appeal begins the day after the notice is given.

    If there are no appeals, the by-law is deemed to be in effect on the day it was approved by Council.

  • 2 Lyndon Than // Dec 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    I’m trying to apply for a permit at the city of North York. They are extremely slow.
    They are also enforcing both the old and the new bylaw – I find this truly incredible. Many features are conflicting in those documents – so how can both be enforced simultaneously? I suspect virtually no permits have been issued without adjustment for quite some time now. We’ve gone to a lot of effort and expense to comply with the old zoning bylaw – and now they want to enforce both. I don’t mind the new one – but both!

  • 3 Lyndon Than // Dec 7, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    And I swear there is a media blackout on this issue. I can find no-one who writes about this or finds this objectionable.