PLANNING PROCESS HEADS-UP:
Starting this week, City Planning is holding a series of open houses/public feedback meetings on the ‘Development Permit System’ (DPS), a pro-growth fast-track (45-day) development approval process which combines zoning amendment, minor variance, and site-plan processes. Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat said that the DPS would be a “fundamental shift” in how planning is done in Toronto. For City info and meeting dates, see the RHS column here:
Please try to attend at least one of the meetings, and encourage others you know to attend or otherwise weigh in on this significant initiative.
Details for the downtown meeting one week from today are as follows:
Saturday, March 22
Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge St, Toronto
Open House: 10:30am to 12:30pm
Public Meeting: 12:30 – 2:30pm
The DPS is being pushed as a pro-active, area-based alternative to site-by-site planning. Sounds great, right? But there are concerns about the (largely untested) DPS process. The 45-day timeline is made possible by means of “plug-and-chug” performance-based by-laws, which necessarily elide nuances of site-specific context. The subsumption of the minor variance process means that areas under a DPS will automatically get “up-zoned”—and that could just be the beginning of the “reset” in zoning that City Planning decides the target area should undergo. After a DPS by-law is passed for an area, then for 5 years there is no requirement for public notice or consultation for any development application, and residents and other third parties lose (while developers retain) their right to appeal specific application decisions to the OMB; inclining the process in the developer’s favor. Removal of public rights of consult and appeal is especially problematic given the uncertainty associated with specific applications of the performance-based bylaws, and the possibility of Section 37-style “tradeoffs” for increased height or density. The short timeline means that DPS decisions will typically be delegated to Planning staff—hence not just the public but their representatives are effectively removed from site-based planning in their communities. Moreover, there are existing pro-active area-based planning processes (e.g., Area Studies and associated Official Plan Amendments, as we just got for Ossington) that do not involve removal of public rights of consultation and appeal. One might also ask: what’s the big rush in implementing this “fundamental shift”? Just 4 open house/feedback meetings for the entire GTA—really?
Further information is available at the following links:
- City “Primer” on the DPS:
- City Presentation on the DPS:
- City Staff Report on the DPS, including Draft Official Plan Policies
- Planner Bob Lehman’s succinct and accurate presentation of pros and cons of DPS:
- CORRA discussion paper on the DPS (written by yours truly—I’m a Vice-Chair of CORRA):
- The Ontario regulation (O. Reg 608/06) on Development Permit Systems:
Please feel free to get in touch with any questions.