Heritage Toronto was pleased to be an invited panelist at the Bill 108 Town Hall held this week at City Hall. It was very energizing to speak with a sold out crowd and hear from so many councillors in attendance including Kristyn Wong-Tam, Paula Fletcher, Josh Matlow, Gord Perks, Ana Bailão, Mike Layton and Brad Bradford.
Simultaneously, these councillors’ peers were speaking at a similar, sold out Town Hall in North York. Clearly, the Toronto public is alarmed by the incoming Bill 108 and the many implications of the 13 different statutes which will impact our city and the planning process, including how heritage buildings are conserved and how development applications are reviewed.
Our remarks focused on the changes to the Ontario Heritage Act. When the Act was originally enacted in 1975, it was on the central belief that that local people through their city councillors best knew what was important to be identified, protected, and preserved in their communities. Now, Bill 108 is about to strip all power away from our local city council and planners, and instead entrusts the provincial OMB/tribunal to decide what heritage properties are important and what shall be protected within our communities.
A June 6, 2019 CBC article is entitled: “Taller towers, more density, less sunlight: What the province’s housing changes mean for Toronto: Housing minister’s decision makes sweeping changes to city plans for midtown, downtown.”
Already, some say a few things are clear. Increased development is the common thread throughout Clark’s decisions, and it’s achieved by removing a cap on tower heights and ditching the city’s push to mandate wraparound supports for growing communities — changes many warn may spark growth, but stymie livability.
“The Wild West for the development sector has returned to Toronto. That is the fundamental takeaway here,” said Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents a downtown ward and whose staff spent much of Thursday poring over the changes.
Clark’s decisions are stripping the city’s ability to mandate social infrastructure — things like child care centres, schools, and parks — as part of new developments, he continued.