Toronto Planning Review Panel: About the Panel
The Toronto Planning Review Panel is an exciting initiative to improve public engagement by capturing input from a broader segment of the population. It was created so that a representative group of Torontonians could help the City Planning Division guide growth and change in Toronto.
The Panel began in 2015 with 28 members randomly selected via Civic Lottery. They were asked to work together over the course of two years to provide City Planning with informed public input on major planning initiatives.
The Panel was created to complement, not replace, other methods of public consultation. We realize that our traditional consultation methods don’t always allow us to hear from Toronto’s many diverse communities equally.
The Planning Review Panel has been specially designed to bring a balance of new voices into the planning process, to offer members access to city planners, independent experts, and stakeholders over the course of sixteen day-long meetings, and to support members as they work together to produce informed, representative public input on major city planning initiatives shaping Toronto.
The first Panel concluded its two-year mandate on November 18th, 2017 and through another Civic Lottery process, the City has recruited 32 new panellists to participate in the second Panel.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Planning Review Panel?
The Planning Review Panel is a group of residents brought together to learn about, discuss, and provide input to City Planning staff on important city planning issues. Thirty-two randomly selected Torontonians were appointed to the Panel as volunteers across 2018-2019. The Panel will develop its input as a group and will work to reflect the interests of all Torontonians.
What is a Civic Lottery?
The members of the Toronto Planning Review Panel are selected through a Civic Lottery in which thousands of invitations are sent to randomly selected households across Toronto. Invitations are distributed across the city in rough proportion to the population living in the different areas of Toronto, and are transferable to anyone aged 18 or over living in the household. Those who receive a letter are asked to donate their time as a form of public service. Volunteers are not offered payment to participate, but any cost incurred (such as childcare, eldercare, food and travel) will be covered by the City.
In November 2017, 10,000 randomly-selected Toronto households received a letter in the mail from the Planning Division inviting them to volunteer to become a member of the Panel. Over 425 Torontonians applied, and 32 were randomly selected to sit on the Panel, in a manner that ensured proportionate representation of Torontonians of different ages, genders, household tenures, and geographies, proportionate representation of racialized people, as well as guaranteed inclusion of Indigenous and disabled individuals. The Panel’s recruitment method reaches out beyond those who usually participate in a standard public meeting, and brings in the voices of individuals who often do not.
What is the City of Toronto's Planning Division?
The City Planning Division provides advice to City Council to help guide growth across Toronto. We shape how the city looks and feels, and develop plans that ensure residents can work, live, play, and move throughout the city. We review applications for new buildings; promote well-designed streets, parks and open spaces; guide how buildings are located, organized, and shaped; plan transportation; work to transform Toronto’s waterfront; and undertake in-depth research used by other City Divisions on land use, housing, community services, and the environment.
Why Have a Planning Review Panel in Toronto?
Toronto is changing fast. Each year 20,000 net new residents make the city their home, and they all need places to live, work, and play. This means we need to build or upgrade new and existing buildings, public spaces and infrastructure to meet the city’s changing needs. The Planning Review Panel is a new way for residents to share their perspectives on how best to direct this growth and change. The City of Toronto’s Planning Division believes the input of residents like you, and the expert knowledge you have about the communities you live in, is essential for good decision-making. The insights and local expertise of the Panel will complement other forms of community consultation and help to ensure that growth occurs in ways that reflect the values and priorities of Toronto’s residents.
What is the Role of Members of the Planning Review Panel?
Members of the Panel will learn first-hand about the city and its planning process from independent experts as well as City staff; contribute their own perspectives and learn about the views of others; and provide input to the Planning Division on important issues shaping the city.
The Planning Division will request input from the Planning Review Panel on issues such as transportation plans, the desired density and character of different neighbourhoods, the importance of historic buildings and public art, and the location of new community amenities like parks, libraries, and community centres. Members will not review individual development applications.
What Happens with the Panel's Input?
The Planning Review Panel is intended to be an influential body and an important source of input that will help the Planning Division provide effective advice to City Council. The Panel’s perspectives, insights, and priorities will be referenced in reports to Council and published on the City of Toronto’s website.
If I'm Not Chosen for the Planning Review Panel, Can I Still Be Involved in City Government?
Absolutely. The City of Toronto hosts a variety of public consultations each year on a range of local and city-wide subjects. A list of upcoming consultations can be found here at Get Involved.