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Confederation of Resident and Ratepayer Associations in Toronto overview regarding Development Permit System

I’m not a member of any neighbourhood association nor am I connected with CORRA. I share the following information for the interest of visitors to the Preserved Stories website.

The following text is from CORRA (I have not included the attached files that accompanied the following message):

Confederation of Resident and Ratepayer Associations in Toronto

Our Official Newsletter The CORRA PRESS

The VOICE of resident and ratepayer associations in Toronto

Vol. 2014 no. 3

February 8, 2014

Re-Release with Updated Discussion Paper:

What is the DPS? Should Resident and Ratepayer Associations be concerned?

Please find attached the updated February 6, 2014 version of CORRA’s Discussion Paper – What is the Development Permit System? And Should Toronto aim to Implement this System? – written by CORRA Vice Chair Jessica Wilson (also President of Ossington Community Association).

In planning terms the letters ‘DPS’ stands for the ‘Development Permit System’, a process that would represent what Chief Planner Keesmaat calls “a fundamental shift” to planning in Toronto.

The stated intention in the Staff Report is that all of Toronto be subject to a DPS: “The policy establishes that the entire city be subject to a development permit system but that it will be implemented on an area by area basis.” (p.7) For these reasons, we all need to take time to learn what the DPS is all about, independently and critically.

Although there has been no publicly announced public consultation with residents, resident/ratepayer groups or the general public, Chief Planner Keesmaat introduced a Draft Official Plan Amendment to Implement a Development Permit System (DPS), agenda item PG29.5, at the Dec 4, 2013 Planning and Growth Management Committee (PGMC) meeting; an agenda item requiring action that would affect all wards in the city.

The link to PGMC agenda item PG29.5 is available here:
[http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2013.PG29.5]

The DPS is being promoted as a planning tool to replace site-by-site decision-making with “vision-based neighbourhood-scale planning” (that’s the hook) in exchange for a streamlined approval process that the Province describes as a ‘one-stop’ planning service (something the developers want). But who exactly benefits from the DPS and whether Toronto should be providing such a planning service requires closer scrutiny.

In a nutshell, the DPS as proposed by City Planning staff provides:

1. A streamlined approval process that

· Combines minor variance, zoning, and site plan into one application and one approval process.

· Allows for flexible standards – a specified range of minimum-maximum variations (eg. 5 to 11-storeys) combined with performance standards used to assess individual development proposals.

· Allows for maximum standards (height and/or density) to be exceeded in exchange for Section 37-style benefits.

· Speeds up the approval process to 45 days from the present 120 to 180 days for a zoning by-law amendment.

· Allows developers but no one else to appeal a decision or failure to make a decision under the DPS to the OMB.

2. Area-based planning that

· Establishes a single by-law for a given ‘neighbourhood-scale’ area which includes flexible minimum-maximum standards.

· Outlines Section 37-style benefits targets for exceeding the ‘maximums’ and identify other standards prior to Council approving a DPS by-law for the identified area.

· City staff provided a scenario where heights could vary between 12 to 30-storeys and the allowable height could effectively be determined by a performance standard similar to those found in the Avenues and Mid-rise Building Guidelines.

· Front-ends the consultation process via two public meetings – Open house info meeting and one feedback meeting – prior to adopting a DPS by-law for the entire area.

3. Once adopted, the area DPS by-law:

· Repeals all previous zoning by-laws for that area.

· Removes third party (residents, residents/ratepayer associations, local councillors and others) involvement for any individual development applications for a period of at least 5 years by:

o Eliminating community consultations, and

o Removing all rights to appeal, except for the developer

· Council would be required to decide all applications within 45 days.

· Council may also delegate the approval authority to a committee or a city employee; the staff suggests the Chief Planner be delegated this authority (describing the DPS to be similar to an approval of a site plan).

4. Other considerations:

· The initial adoption of a DPS by-law may be appealed by all involved in the process. However, once the DPS by-law is adopted, you lose your right to object to future development proposals within the DPS area, unless you are the developer.

· There is a stringent notice requirement to be sent to all property owners when a DPS by-law is to be enacted that must explicitly state: all third party rights to appeal will be removed for the area subject to a DPS by-law.

Concerns about how the DPS is being Introduced:

At the December 4, 2013 PGMC meeting CORRA decried the failure to provide notice for this “fundamental shift” to planning. On the substantive issues,

· CORRA informed the PGMC that the DPS was not a mandatory requirement of the Planning Act but optional. and

· That in establishing a DPS by-law all third party rights to appeal would be removed (a key feature completely downplayed in the staff materials).

· CORRA went on to support and defend the City’s highly integrative Official Plan policies that recognizes Secondary Plans and Area-specific policies (backed by contextual area specific by-laws) as planning tools that exists today to achieve the area-based planning that everyone wants without giving up fundamental rights.

· CORRA closed off by providing an example:

Suppose your home is located where the density and height ranges are higher than you think appropriate, you would have no right to appeal a DPS decision if a site was granted its maximum range in height and density. So if you thought the mass and bulk of the proposed building shadows your property inappropriately – under the DPS area by-law you would have no recourse to influence a better outcome.

[Note: Maximums under a DPS by-law may be exceeded by permitted variations in exchange for Section 37- style equivalents]

Councillor Vaughan of Ward 20 wanted the DPS for his King Street area. And Geoff Kettel, Co-Chair of FoNTRA (Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations) supported it for neighbourhoods. And two other speakers, thought the DPS was needed because of the immense development pressures they were facing.

Councillor Filion, PGMC member, modified the Chief Planner’s recommendation, by stepping the item down to consider an appropriate amendment that would bring the DPS issue back to PGMC following an improved consultation process with the public.

Summary:

Even though there has been no public consultation, Chief Planner Keesmaat introduced a draft Official Plan Policy which “establishes that the entire City is subject to a development permit system…on an area by area basis”. Public consultation is now called; however, it still presumes that the DPS will be implemented.

CORRA believes such a “fundamental shift” in planning should require that residents, ratepayers, and their associations and the broad general public be fully consulted and be provided sufficient time to analyse what is being proposed and not be treated as a fait accompli.

CORRA achieved what it set out to do: keep the dialogue open for Resident and Ratepayer Associations and groups to join the conversation – learn what is being proposed, ask questions, engage, and be informed when the DPS issue resurfaces at PGMC, this time with Notice.

Let us know your thoughts. Read CORRA’s DPS Discussion Paper.

Email CORRA at corratoronto@gmail.com:

Below are some questions to encourage you to think critically about what is being promoted by the City’s Planning Staff:

1. After reading the Discussion Paper do you come to the same conclusion?

2. How do residents benefit from the DPS?

3. How would the DPS work with the other planning mechanisms for area-based planning?

4. Would you surrender your rights to consultation, to notice, to appeal on all future development proposals for five years in exchange for a flexible range-based area-specific DPS by-law that gives the developers a fast approval process on what is essentially a zoning by-law amendment while retaining their rights to appeal?

5. Does the DPS work for areas designated Neighbourhood in the City’s Official Plan, where the existing context is the planned context which are supposed to be protected/remain stable?

6. What do the phrases ‘neighbourhood scale’, ‘vision-based’ or ‘visioning’ envision or mean?

7. Whether or not the DPS benefits areas of extreme growth – Would it not be more appropriate to allow local area residents and other neighbouring residents/ratepayers to weigh the pros/cons and the benefits/risks before designating an area for a DPS by-law?

8. Do you have questions of CORRA?

Please feel free to pass along “The CORRA PRESS” Re-release and the updated (February 6, 2014) Discussion Paper on the DPS to your members and others or publish CORRA’s release in whole or in part in your upcoming newsletters or communications to help others learn more and begin the conversation.

CORRA wants to hear your views on the proposed DPS.

Email CORRA at corratoronto@gmail.com

 

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2 Responses to Confederation of Resident and Ratepayer Associations in Toronto overview regarding Development Permit System

  1. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    Colleen O’Marra writes:

    Re:New strategies for future decisions on housing development(CORRA)
    How many acronyms can fit on the head of a pin ?No wonder turn out for
    these planning committees is so disappointing.The Rosetta Stone would
    be easier to decipher. ( C. O’Marra)

  2. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    Another name would make for a stronger brand.

    That being said, the idea of a confederation of grassroots organizations has much to be said for it.

    I very much like the idea of people working together on behalf of the interests of fellow residents.

    It’s great to have a forum, or forums, where people can figure out what they want to do in response to planning issues. That is a way to make a positive contribution to the well-being of the community.

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