Summary Reports from the 2018-2019 Panel

The Planning Review Panel is a representative group of 32 randomly selected Torontonians that help the City Planning Division guide growth and change in Toronto. They have been asked by the Chief Planner to work together over the course of two years to provide City Planning with informed public input on major planning initiatives. Members are tasked, in particular, with helping to ensure that these initiatives are aligned with the values and priorities of all Torontonians.

2019 Meeting Dates:

  • January 19, 2019
  • March 2, 2019
  • April 13, 2019
  • June 15, 2019
  • September 21, 2019
  • November 2, 2019
  • December 7, 2019

Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, presented to the Panel about a City Council motion instructing the City Planning Division to explore options to increase housing options and grant more planning permissions in areas of Toronto designated as Neighbourhoods in the Official Plan. He explained how the City’s Official Plan and current zoning determine the types of housing that can be built in Toronto’s neighbourhoods and showed how much of Toronto’s total area is zoned for detached houses versus other forms of housing. The City would like to explore changing permissions to enable the building of more forms of ‘gentle density’ in Neighbourhoods, including duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, and small walk-up apartments, with the goal of increasing the quantity and diversity of the City’s housing stock while helping to improve housing affordability.

The Division is in the early stages of studying the issue and developing options, and visited the Panel to gather preliminary feedback from a broader city-wide perspective on the appropriate proportion of ‘missing middle’ type housing in the areas designated as Neighbourhoods, as well as what concerns or issues may need to be addressed as a result.


Panelists were organized into four groups, and each group was assigned to one planning district of Toronto: Etobicoke York, North York, Scarborough, and Toronto and East York. The Panel then discussed the following in small groups:

  1. Discuss and develop a group recommendation about what you think the ideal mix of homes should be for a neighbourhood in this district between single detached and ‘missing middle’ types. Explain why your table recommends this mix.
  2. What actions should the City take to offset possible negative side-effects from changing the mix of homes in this area?

Overall, Panelists supported increasing the amount of ‘gentle density’ in areas of Toronto currently designated for lower-scale residential uses in the Official Plan. While the exact split varied from table to table, most Panelists suggested something closer to a 50/50 split between detached houses and forms of ‘missing middle’ housing like duplexes, triplexes, walk-up apartments, and townhouses in Neighbourhoods. Panelists tended to suggest a higher ratio of medium to low density homes in Toronto and East York and Scarborough (roughly 2/3 missing middle and 1/3 detached houses for these areas), while proposing closer to a 50/50 split for Etobicoke and North York.

Panelists were broadly sympathetic to the idea that a better balance needs to be struck between the needs of people living in detached houses and Torontonians who are struggling to find secure housing.

A few Panelists disagreed with the majority of the Panel and argued that detached houses add character and are better for families, and that the housing mix should therefore stay largely as is.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Missing Middle Master Plan – December 7, 2019

The City is currently developing a Digital Infrastructure Plan to help regulate the use of digital technologies and data use in city life. This Plan would apply both to the internal decisions and policies of the City, as well as to external applications received by the City that are related to the digital realm. Michael Noble, Senior Planner at the Waterfront Secretariat, presented to the Panel about the forthcoming Plan and asked the Panel for their input on the Plan’s draft guiding principles.

The draft guiding principles provided to the Panel were:

  • Equity and Inclusion. Digital infrastructure will be used to create and sustain equity and inclusion in its operations and outcomes. Digital infrastructure will be flexible, adaptable and responsive to the needs of all Torontonians, including equity-seeking groups, Indigenous people, those with accessibility needs, and vulnerable populations.
  • A Well-run City. Digital infrastructure will enable high quality, resilient and innovative public services, and support evidence-based decision-making.
  • Social, Economic, and Environmental Benefits. Digital Infrastructure will contribute to positive social, economic, and environmental benefits by supporting the success of Toronto’s residents, businesses, academic institutions and community organizations.
  • Privacy Security. Toronto’s Digital Infrastructure must operate in a way that protects the privacy of individuals in accordance with privacy laws, and be safe from misuse, hacks, theft, or breaches.
  • Democracy and Transparency. Decisions about Digital Infrastructure will be made democratically, in a way that is ethical, accountable, transparent and subject to oversight. Torontonians will be provided with understandable, timely, and accurate information about the technologies in their city, and opportunities to shape the digital domain.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Digital Innovation Plan – December 7, 2019

Melanie Melnyk and Dan Nicholson from the City Planning Division attended the Panel to present on the City’s Master Plan process for Exhibition Place. City staff have been directed by Council to write a new Master Plan for the site that also aligns with emerging plans for the adjacent provincially-owned Ontario Place. Staff have been working since June to gather input from various stakeholders and the general public to inform the draft Master Plan.
Exhibition Place is a 192-acre site on the waterfront that hosts many of Toronto’s most significant conventions and exhibitions. It is also home to several sports venues, including BMO Field and the Coliseum. The site has various heritage properties as well as some entertainment venues and public parkland. Exhibition Place faces challenges related to its size and location, primarily that it is not well-connected in terms of transit, cycling and pedestrian access, and feels separated from the surrounding area due to being bordered by Lake Ontario on one side and Lakeshore Blvd on the other.
The project team presented the Panel with five broad principles that they hope to accomplish in the new Master Plan:

  • Removing barriers, making connections and prioritizing transit;
  • Building a network of spectacular waterfront parks and public spaces;
  • Promoting a clean and green environment;
  • Creating dynamic and diverse new places; and
  • Openness, transparency, and responsiveness to the broader community and stakeholders.

For each principle, the project team then described several specific ideas to help illustrate how these principles might be realized in the Master Plan.

The project team also sought feedback from the Panel on four ‘Big Ideas’. These ideas were: 1) Enhancing the ‘gateways’ to the site, 2) Building an elevated multi-use promenade that would go the entire length of the site; 3) Making Exhibition Place a sustainability and innovation zone; and 4) Creating a new major gathering place.

Following this presentation, the project team posed three questions to the Panel:

  1. Would the City’s proposed features, elements, and ‘Big Ideas’ for Exhibition Place make it an appealing place for all Torontonians to visit? Why or why not?
  2. What other features and elements might be missing from the plan?
  3. Will this draft plan ensure an appropriate balance between providing public space and providing exhibition space? Should one be emphasized more than the other in the Master Plan?

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Exhibition Place Master Plan – November 2, 2019

Sara Phipps and Michelle Drylie from the City Planning Division presented to the Panel about the King-Parliament Secondary Plan Review. The City is in the process of drafting a new secondary plan for the neighbourhood. The King-Parliament Secondary Plan must consider recent changes to the Planning Act, and must also incorporate directions from the recently-approved Downtown Plan.

Recent provincial policy changes have impacted how community benefits are categorized and funded, meaning that in the Secondary Plan the City may need to prioritize between different types of benefits to the public realm. The project team sought the Panel’s input on how to prioritize and balance these trade-offs in different parts of the neighbourhood.

The project team presented background on the legislation that affects their ability to make public realm improvements, discussed the Downtown Plan, and outlined the King-Parliament Study Area and the neighbourhoods included therein. They also presented maps of the location of current and potential heritage buildings, currently existing parks and public land, and some of the City’s planned “Big Moves” for the area.

Because the context and built form of the King-Parliament area vary by neighbourhood, the types of public realm benefits that are most beneficial would likewise depend on the neighbourhood. For this reason, the project team presented three examples of different types of neighbourhoods in the King-Parliament area:

  1. King Street East from Jarvis to Parliament Streets (hereafter referred to as King East)
  2. Queen Street East from Sherbourne to Parliament Streets (hereafter referred to as Queen East)
  3. The complex intersection and underpasses at King Street and Sumach Street/ the “King-Sumach Pedestrian Plaza” (hereafter referred to as the King-Sumach Plaza)

These three areas had different features and characteristics, and were presented as archetypes for other, similar areas to which the Panel’s recommendations could also apply.

The Panel was also presented with six examples of public realm community benefits that the City may need to trade-off:

  1. Parkland dedication
  2. Privately owned publicly accessible spaces (POPS)
  3. Mid-block connections
  4. Wider sidewalks
  5. Street trees
  6. Pedestrian and cyclist amenities

The project team explained each benefit and described where they’re most needed or where they’re most often seen.

In groups, Panelists were then asked to review each of the three neighbourhoods again and select three benefits they would prioritize for each area, and explain their rationale for these choices. Following this activity, Panelists were also asked to describe some overall.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for King Parliament Secondary Plan – November 2, 2019

Kensington Market Restaurant and Bar Study Summary of Advice from the Planning Review Panel, September 21, 2019

Panelist Advice

Planning Division staff visited the Panel to consult on proposed interventions to mitigate different issues caused by a proliferation of restaurants and bars in Kensington in recent years. There are two primary issues being considered: noise and nuisance caused by late night bar patrons, and deterioration of the mix of uses within Kensington Market.

  • Panelists identified valuable and essential elements which, in their view, should be preserved or fostered in Kensington Market. The Panel overwhelmingly prioritized preservation of the heritage and character of Kensington Market, promoting a mix of uses, and ensuring thriving local businesses. They also emphasized that Kensington should be an appealing place for non-residents to visit.
  • Panelists assessed seven planning intervention options for Kensington Market and one set of community-based interventions, all suggested by City staff.
    • Broadly, Panelists supported four of the planning interventions: further limiting restaurant sizes, loosening zoning to allow retail in residential areas, limiting accessory uses, and restricting building frontage. Panelists felt that all of these options would help to reduce nuisances, encourage a greater mix of uses in the neighbourhood, and maintain Kensington’s character. Panelists were also strongly supportive of introducing community-based solutions like pop-up retail and public realm improvements.
    • Panelists had mixed feedback on the three remaining planning intervention options. They did not agree on restricting patio uses because of impacts to the character of the Market. Panelists also had mixed reactions to introducing separation distances and concentration caps because of skepticism about their efficacy in addressing nuisance issues. Panelists were also broadly not supportive of the community-based solution of setting up a resident-staff steering committee, because they felt it might unnecessarily duplicate other engagement strategies.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Kensington Market – September 21, 2019

Summary of Advice from the Planning Review Panel Meeting held June 15, 2019

Panelist Advice

Planning Division staff visited the Panel to consult on the preliminary vision for the first four sites of the Housing Now affordable housing strategy. Staff asked the Panel for their reflections on whether current plans for one of the sites, Wilson Heights, strikes an appropriate balance between competing priorities, as well as what planning elements and public benefits the City should extend across all eleven Housing Now sites.

  • The Panel largely approved of the current site plan for Wilson Heights and particularly appreciated the provision of green space and community space. They felt that a crucial priority is to maximize the amount of available affordable housing while still providing a functional, complete community with a mix of amenities. They also specifically noted the importance of exploring how to appropriately accommodate the site’s current use as commuter parking, given the benefits of park-and-ride to the broader city.
  • However, the Panel acknowledged there are trade-offs in providing on-site amenities and maximizing the amount of affordable housing. They felt that further contextual analysis of the surrounding area would be required to be able to determine what amenities (such as parking) should be accommodated on site vs nearby.
  • Panelists also specifically noted the importance of ensuring flexibility in the design of the site to accommodate as-of-yet unknown future needs.
  • Panelists agreed that connectivity, flexibility, and sustainability are key public benefits that should be maximized across all 11 Housing Now sites. They also suggested that while it may be outside of the immediate scope of this project team, that the City needs to consider how to move people along the housing spectrum when their ability to afford market rent changes, in order to maximize the benefits of these affordable units to as many people as possible.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Housing Now – June 15, 2019

Summary of Advice from the Planning Review Panel Meeting held June 15, 2019

Panelist Advice

The City of Toronto is designing new public notices for the Committee of Adjustment with the goal of making them more engaging, informative, accessible, and attractive. Staff from the Planning Division and Committee of Adjustment provided the Panel with two updated design options — Sign 1, in landscape, and Sign 2, in portrait. The Panel provided input on what they found effective and ineffective about each, which sign they preferred, and high level general feedback on design, layout, and content. the Panel identified five primary recommendations for the Committee of Adjustment sign redesign:

  1. Use simple language. Most Panelists felt that Sign 2 (the portrait design) did the best job of avoiding jargon, but also noted that both signs still used inaccessible language
  2. Organize the information so that the most important information goes closer to the top of the sign. Most Panelists felt that the most important information was the public meeting details
  3. Include calls to action such as “Give your feedback” that tells the public what the City wants them to do with the information on the sign
  4. Combine the organized, visual look of Sign 2 with the landscape orientation of Sign 1 and try to incorporate more white space if possible
  5. Improve the prominence and clarity of the icons to help the public quickly spot and understand the most important pieces of information

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Committee of Adjustment Development Notices: Signage Redesign – June 15, 2019

Summary of Advice from the Planning Review Panel Meeting held April 13, 2019

Panelist Advice

The City of Toronto is currently conducting a Secondary Plan Study of the Golden Mile. The Secondary Plan will manage development that is anticipated to result from several new stops on the Eglinton Crosstown Line between Victoria Park Ave and Warden Ave. The study is at the end stages, and the planning team visited the Panel to get feedback on whether their plan appropriately includes the most important planning ingredients to support the growth of a mixed-use neighbourhood, and appropriately addresses potential planning shortfalls.

The Panel identified three key ingredients that the City should ensure is included in their plan for Golden Mile, as well as one potential shortfall that they should be sure to address.

1. Ingredient: Walkability

Panelists felt that it is essential that the Golden Mile transition from a primarily car-centric neighbourhood to one that is easily accessed and enjoyed by pedestrians and transit users. They felt that the City’s current plan does address walkability, though greater improvements to the safety of crossing Eglinton Ave E could be made.

2. Ingredient: Community Character

Panelists stressed the need to both retain pieces of the community’s existing character, while also ensuring that the Golden Mile develops a unique new character that makes it a notable and complimentary part of Toronto’s quilt of neighbourhoods. Panelists were not sure that this ingredient is yet addressed in the City’s plan, but noted that there may be opportunities to build this ingredient into the plan’s design guidelines.

3. Shortfall: Affordability

Panelists were concerned about the long-term affordability of the Golden Mile area as new transit, residences, and public amenities move in. Based on the information they received, panelists did not feel affordability was sufficiently addressed in the plan, though they acknowledged the City has only some mechanisms to control the variables that create unaffordability. They emphasized that the City should make sure to use the tools at their disposal to ensure a percentage of affordable residences, as well as a range of businesses and amenities that cater to all income levels, both for local residents and the surrounding communities.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report Golden Mile Secondary Plan Study – June 13, 2019

Summary of Advice from the Planning Review Panel Meeting held April 13, 2019

Panelist Advice

The City of Toronto is in the early stages of drafting a new 10-year housing strategy for 2020-2030. Panelists were presented with the latest research on Toronto’s current and projected housing challenges and asked to provide input on principles that the City should use as guidance when selecting actions for the strategy. They were also asked to brainstorm a list of possible actions that the City could take to address Toronto’s housing challenges, and select the ones they considered most promising.

  • Most Panelists agreed that an important principle for the housing strategy is to move people along the housing spectrum towards ownership or stable rentership as much as possible. They felt this will encourage greater housing stability for more people, while opening space in affordable units for those most in need.
  • Most Panelists also agreed that the housing strategy should prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable in Toronto’s population, including low-income people, the homeless and people at risk of homelessness, the elderly, and people living with disabilities.
  • Most Panelists agreed that resources should be invested across the housing spectrum in order to help ensure people can move between points on the spectrum if their circumstances change. A few Panelists disagreed with this prioritization and felt that the City should instead make highly targeted investments to get more out of the City’s limited resources by investing more in a few areas where the greatest impact would be felt.

In terms of specific ideas to address housing, there were five ideas that the Panelists felt were most strategic for the City to pursue:

  1. Continue to develop inclusionary zoning as a policy tool to create more purpose-built affordable homes
  2. Use existing land and buildings more creatively and efficiently
  3. Explore cheaper construction methods and materials
  4. Invest in programs that encourage home ownership
  5. Encourage and incentivize new ways of living together

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report Housing Strategy 2020-2030 – April 13, 2019

Summary of Advice from the Planning Review Panel Meeting held March 2, 2019

Panelist Advice

The City of Toronto Planning Division has drafted the city’s first-ever biodiversity strategy, aimed at protecting and enhancing Toronto’s biodiversity in the face of ongoing species and habitat loss, invasive species, human impacts, and climate change. The draft strategy has nineteen action items, included in this report as an Appendix.

Panelists were asked to reflect on whether the proposed actions in the draft strategy adequately address biodiversity loss in Toronto and serve the interests of all Torontonians, and then make recommendations on possible amendments and additions to these items.

  • Panelists broadly supported most of the existing action items, particularly the elements that focus on community engagement, inter- and intra- governmental collaboration, and approaches that address other community needs alongside promoting biodiversity;
  • Panelists had several proposed amendments to the action items. Many amendments focused on clarifying and defining language in the existing action items to make them more accessible to a public audience. Other recommended changes were focused on ensuring that a broad, cross section of the community and community groups can participate in the biodiversity strategy, such as by ensuring that ‘community groups’ are defined, that the scope of involvement defined in the strategy is not unnecessarily limiting, and that there are activities available for all ages;
    • Panelists also made suggestions on how to amend existing action items to ensure that spaces can be effectively repurposed to incorporate biodiversity, thinking beyond just hydro corridors and including spaces like bike corridors and underpasses;
  • Panelists proposed several new action items for the strategy, which focused on promoting public engagement and education about biodiversity among the general public. Panelists want to see the City use existing resources, like regular community environmental days, and new additions to the Division’s biodiversity handbook series, to expand their regular community outreach. Panelists also proposed including an item that helps Torontonians take practical, simple first steps to protect biodiversity.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Biodiversity Strategy – March 2, 2019

Summary of Advice from the Planning Review Panel Meeting held March 2, 2019

Panelist Advice

The City of Toronto is currently reviewing certain aspects of the Official Plan that relate to transportation. The transportation policies currently under review are related to transit, cycling, automated vehicles, shared mobility services, and are generally found in sections 2.2 and 2.4 of the Official Plan. Panelists were presented with the proposed revisions and were asked:

  • To consider whether the policy changes presented were appropriate and likely to meet the expectations of Torontonians
  • To explain why or why not, and to suggest changes and additions

Panelists reached broad agreement that all policies presented, as far as they were able to understand them given the time available, were generally appropriate and likely to meet the expectations of Torontonians.

With respect to transit policies, Panelists supported the idea of a more systematic process for planning higher-order transit improvements, and agreed that greater emphasis on the work of the bus and streetcar network was important. They also suggested there be greater clarity and consistency concerning the way “quality transit” was described, and suggested including more consistent reference in transit policies to a transit system that is accessible, affordable, equitable, safe, and resilient.

With respect to cycling policies, Panelists agreed with the Official Plan’s expanded focus on growing cycling infrastructure throughout the city, and supported the policy that would seek to locate bicycle lanes within one kilometre of every Toronto resident. They also offered a number of suggestions for how to improve Draft Policy #14, with particular focus on increasing access to bike sharing and other cycling support facilities.

With respect to automated vehicles and shared mobility services, the Panel broadly agreed that these were important issues to address in the Official Plan. There was consensus among the Panelists that the City is taking the right approach by emphasizing the need to first assess the impact of these new technologies before drafting further policies. They also supported improvements to curbside management and access to shared parking. The Panel also suggested that road safety and reduced congestion could be given greater emphasis as primary policy goals for Automated Vehicles and Shared Mobility Policies.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Official Plan Transportation Policies Review Phase 2 – March 2, 2019

Summary of Advice from the Toronto Planning Review Panel Meeting held December 8, 2018

Panelist Reflections and Recommendations

The Panel was visited by the project team for TransformTO, Toronto’s climate change strategy. Toronto has set a long-term goal to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 80% by 2050. The project team is developing an implementation plan for the years 2020-2023, which will be presented to Council in 2019. The implementation plan proposes to focus on five key action areas: buildings, energy, transportation, waste, and engagement. They will select and promote actions in these areas that both reduce GHGs and provide one or more of four priority community benefits: health, equity, economic prosperity, and resilience.

The TransformTO team asked for the Panel’s input on how to select actions for the 2020-2023 implementation plan that both fight climate change and address community benefits that are most valued by all Torontonians.

  • Panelists did not feel strongly that any of the four community benefits was significantly more important than the others to focus on during the 2020-2023 Implementation Plan. Health received a slightly higher weighting out of the four because many Panelists felt that health is a determinant of other benefits. However, several other Panelists felt that all four benefits were equally interconnected and therefore important to focus on in a balanced way.
  • Most Panelists suggested that, of the five action areas, Engagement was the most important action area for the 2020-2023 Implementation Plan. Panelists observed that meeting the Toronto GHG reduction targets is too big a challenge for the government to tackle alone, and that while the City can provide significant leadership and resources, there must be deep collaboration with companies, non-profits, and residents in order to meet the 2050 GHG reduction goal. They felt that a sufficiently strong foundation of collaborative relationships has yet to be built, and thus engagement was likely the most effective area to focus on in the 2020-2023 Implementation Plan. Engagement would then lead to more effective action within the other four action areas (buildings, energy, transportation, waste).
  • Some Panelists also suggested that focusing, between 2020-2023, on improving the quality and sustainability of buildings, as Toronto’s biggest generator of GHG emissions, would have positive impacts on health and equity in particular, and address the affordability of quality housing – a key challenge for many Torontonians.
  • Panelists brainstormed additional ideas for how actions in each of the five action areas could advance the four community benefits while also reducing GHGs in Toronto. A full list of ideas is captured in the Appendix at the end of the report.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for TransformTO – December 8, 2018

Summary of Advice from the Toronto Planning Review Panel Meeting held December 8, 2018

Panelist Reflections and Recommendations

The City of Toronto is developing Pet Friendly Design Guidelines to help developers better accommodate pets in multi-unit, high density communities. The project team first visited the Planning Review Panel in May 2018 to collect preliminary advice from Panelists, and were returning to get the Panel’s final feedback on the near-completed document.

Panelists were broadly satisfied with the draft guidelines and felt that the document adequately addresses the opportunities and challenges presented by pets in high-density communities. They noted that while neighbourhood, building, and unit design can address many challenges, there are unresolved issues around owner etiquette and education that may require additional interventions from the City that lie primarily outside the Guidelines.

Panelists had several minor recommendations for the guidelines:

  • Include more explicit acknowledgement of the perspectives of non-pet owners and people who don’t like or feel safe around animals;
  • Provide clear signage in pet zones to help people understand the intended use of spaces and avoid them if desired;
  • Consider ways to reduce pet noise at the unit door, especially when owners are absent;
  • Ensure that building and unit amenities are still aesthetically pleasing;
  • Continue to consider ways to avoid passing additional cost for these interventions on to residents, especially non-pet owning residents.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Pet Friendly Guidelines for High Density Communities – December 8, 2018

Summary of Results from the Toronto Planning Review Panel Meeting, held May 5, 2018

Panel’s Suggestions

  • Panelists concluded that it is important to accommodate pets in high-density communities and develop pet-friendly guidelines, because pets provide many emotional and psychological benefits to owners. There are already high numbers of pets living in these communities, which if managed poorly, could pose challenges to the wellbeing of both pets and people.
  • The Pet Friendly Design Guidelines will need to address challenges such as the management of animal waste; provision of adequate recreation space; management of noise and odour levels; cleanliness of shared spaces; and strategies to ensure the comfort and safety of people who do not like or feel safe around animals.
  • The proposed Pet Friendly Design Guidelines should avoid incurring unreasonable costs to residents and developers, discourage irresponsible pet ownership, and ensure that residents who don’t like or feel comfortable around animals still feel safe in their communities.
  • ● Panelists proposed a variety of possible design ideas for units, buildings, and neighbourhoods. A few of the most suggested ideas were:
    • New areas for pets to relieve themselves on patios or green roofs;
    • Providing more pet exercise and recreation facilities and parks; and
    • Designating specific units or floors for pets, and including design elements like improved soundproofing and ventilation in buildings.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Pet Friendly Design Guidelines for High Density Communities – May 5, 2018

Summary of Advice from the Toronto Planning Review Panel Meeting held November 3, 2018

Panelist Reflections and Recommendations

Heritage Preservation Services visited the Panel to discuss a potential city-wide survey of all of Toronto’s heritage resources. Such a survey would likely take several years to complete, so the Heritage team will not be able to study everything that requires its urgent attention right away. The project team asked the Panel to review seven criteria and help them determine which criteria are most important, so they can in turn decide which areas to study first. The seven criteria were: amount of development activity; fragility of an area; archaeology; potential cultural heritage value; planning priorities; equitable distribution of study areas; and equitable distribution of eras.
While there was not complete consensus on how to prioritize the criteria, most Panelists agreed with the following recommendations:

While there was not complete consensus on how to prioritize the criteria, most Panelists agreed with the following recommendations:

  • High priority criteria included amount of development activity, planning priorities, and potential cultural heritage. Panelists felt that high levels of development activity presents an obvious and pressing threat to heritage properties. Focusing on areas that are priorities for planning studies will enable the city to be more proactive about preserving heritage. Cultural heritage is important because places of cultural value are important for understanding the different stories of communities in Toronto, and often represent community values.
  • Medium priority criteria included fragility of an area and archaeology. Several panelists felt strongly that places where there may be Indigenous archaeology, in particular, should be prioritized for the survey, as it is an under-recognized aspect of Toronto’s history and should be surveyed for more proactively. They felt fragile areas are important because they face a more immediate threat of being lost.
  • Low priority criteria included equitable distribution of study areas, and equitable distribution of study eras. Panelists felt that it was necessary to trade-off prioritizing study areas in order to focus on areas of high development pressure. Panelists thought that equitable distribution of eras was already captured by other criteria, and that it was less important than study areas.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Heritage Survey – November 3, 2018

Summary of Advice from the Toronto Planning Review Panel Meeting held November 3, 2018

Panelist Reflections and Recommendations

The Automated Vehicles (AV) team of the Transportation Services Division visited the Panel to present a set of draft directional statements and goals, which will form the basis of a tactical plan on Automated Vehicles for the City of Toronto. The Automated Vehicles team wanted the Panel’s input as to whether these draft statements and goals sufficiently address the opportunities and issues raised by the imminent introduction of AV technology in the City of Toronto.

Most Panelists agreed that the draft directional statements and goals are broadly appropriate, but they proposed several additions and clarifications related to some of the goals and statements:

  • Panelists suggested that the economic development statement should address the need to ensure Toronto’s local economy benefits from the introduction of Automated Vehicle technology. Panelists suggested the City support local businesses and sectors to participate in this emerging sector, and that the tactical plan include a strategy that ensures that the benefits and profits are not mostly captured by foreign companies;
  • Panelists suggested that the economic development statement and/or public sector vehicle statement address the economic disruption of Automated Vehicles, specifically on workers in the transportation sector. Panelists emphasized the importance of preparing workers and the public for this transition;
  • Panelists emphasized that the City’s goal for road safety should be to leverage Automated Vehicles to eliminate traffic injuries and fatalities, not just reduce them;
  • Panelists were concerned about personal safety while using Automated Vehicles, which they felt should be addressed somewhere in the tactical plan. Some suggested that the City consider having human attendants present in public transit Automated Vehicles when first introduced to help riders feel safer, both to protect against possible dangers posed by other riders, and also to serve as a fail-safe in case of technological failure;
  • Panelists felt that the privacy and security section should emphasize high privacy standards. Some specifically suggested that the data be held by a public entity, and that its use be strongly regulated. Panelists also thought that the tactical plan should acknowledge and prepare to mitigate the possible negative impacts of data collection on marginalized communities, even at the aggregate level;

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Automated Vehicles – November 3, 208

Summary of Advice from the Toronto Planning Review Panel Meeting held September 15, 2018

Panelist Reflections and Recommendations

Panelists made recommendations to the City as to how to balance different considerations for Toronto’s forthcoming inclusionary zoning policy.

  • Panelists expressed some hesitation to provide detailed recommendations without more data about likely impacts in Toronto.
  • Most panelists agreed that maximizing the number of available affordable units is important, since demand for affordable units will almost certainly outpace supply, and that the city should find ways to ensure the inclusionary zoning policy benefits the most people possible.
  • Panelists were also generally willing to accept shallower affordability in exchange for other benefits, such as larger unit size or a longer affordability period.
  • Panelists who argued for larger units felt it was important in order to be able to support more families.
  • Panelists who wanted longer affordability periods felt it was important in order to maintain and grow Toronto’s stock of affordable housing, and benefit the most people possible.
  • Panelists broadly supported providing incentives in exchange for more stock of affordable housing, but felt it was difficult to do a full analysis of the trade-offs without better information about what the incentives would entail and what else those incentives could be used to achieve.
  • Most Panelists were concerned about people whose incomes may increase over time being able to stay in below-market rent units, and requested more information on how common it is for people’s incomes to rise and how common it is for them to stay in below-market units for extended periods of time after their incomes rise.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Inclusionary Zoning for Affordable Housing – September 15, 2018

Summary of Advice from the Toronto Planning Review Panel Meeting held September 15, 2018

Panel’s Recommendations

  • Panelists learned and deliberated about a development proposal for the Wellesley-Parliament Square neighbourhood, and considered how much importance the City should give to a variety of different benefits and drawbacks posed by the project, when seeking to determine whether the application is in the public interest.
  • Panelists broadly approve of increasing density in downtown neighbourhoods, including St James Town, and broadly approve of the increased housing supply the proposed development would bring to the city as well as the improved facilities, amenities, and services that the proposed development would bring to the neighbourhood.
  • Panelists were concerned about the potential impact of increased density on already-strained community facilities, schools, and services, as well as certain transportation links. Additional density in a low-income area like St. James Town was not thought to be acceptable if it reduced the access existing residents have to these services and facilities.
  • Panelists urged the City to find ways to support and maintain important components of community identity, especially given the high number of recent immigrants in St. James Town, such as familiar local businesses.
  • Panelists provided some additional suggestions for the City, which included ensuring there is sufficient supporting infrastructure and services in the community, providing more flexible community spaces, working to keep the unique character of the neighbourhood, adjusting the heights of some of the towers, and ensuring there is adequate parking, electric car charging, and bicycle storage.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Wellesley-Parliament Square – September 15, 2018

Summary of Results from the Toronto Planning Review Panel Meeting, held June 23, 2018

The Panel’s Suggestions

  1. Focus on power outages
    The Panel concluded that power outages are perhaps the most important threat to the City, due to the frequency with which they can occur and the widely-felt consequences for citizens, especially vulnerable populations. Since cold and heat shocks can be alleviated by access to power, not having access to this vital resource would drastically impact a person’s ability to cope with weather-related shocks.
  2. Broaden focus beyond climate shocks
    In addition to climate related shocks (cold, heat, wind), the Panel suggested that the Resilience Strategy include preparations for economic shocks (eg: a global recession), public health emergencies (eg: epidemics), and public safety crises (eg: gun violence).
  3. Continue focus on six major stresses
    The Panel agreed with the six stresses that the Resilience Strategy proposes to focus on; poverty and inequality; access to housing; getting around; aging infrastructure; long-term municipal financial sustainability; and emergency preparedness. They also suggested including mental health and accessibility as major stresses to address.
  4. Consider including a variety of actions in resilience strategy
    The Panelists proposed action items to improve Toronto’s Resilience, highlighting the need for improved City governance, strengthened community bonds, improved individual resilience, better contingency planning and preparedness, and improved physical infrastructure.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report on Toronto Resilience Strategy – June 23, 2018

Summary of Results from the Toronto Planning Review Panel Meeting, held March 24, 2018

The Panel’s Suggestions

Panelists generally encouraged the City to use its scarce park resources wisely. Broadly, they agreed that the City should focus on:

  • Buying small parkettes and walkways that provide increased access and help to connect our park system
  • Buying parkland where it is less expensive and growth is anticipated rather than where the population is already most dense and land is most expensive;
  • Considering what proportion of neighbourhood residents have access to private facilities and amenities, and which neighbourhoods would benefit most from more parkland (e.g. those with lower incomes, those with higher numbers of seniors, and those with higher numbers of children);
  • Working to expand access to and improve use of local recreation lands that are not part of the park system, such as school playgrounds and fields;
  • Investing in ways to reduce barriers people experience getting to parks and using parks, rather than investing in buying expensive new parkland (e.g. addressing barriers for those with disabilities, safety and maintenance issues, and the lack of washrooms; improving the ease, speed, and cost of using transit to get to parks);
  • Designing, improving, and programming parks so that they are used extensively for multiple purposes (fitness, learning, community building, access to natural features, beauty, etc.) rather than adding special attractions and niche features;
  • Considering new funding streams such as private donations, and increasing parkland contributions from developers when possible;
  • Consulting and collaborating with Indigenous people so that parks planning incorporates Indigenous practices and parks are used as a means of educating the broader population about the history of the land; and
  • Using parks to strengthen urban ecology and resilience.
    Where possible, the Parkland Strategy should include these tactics. Other park improvement planning processes should consider this advice, where it applies.

Panel’s detailed advice is included in a full Summary Report for Parkland Strategy – March 24, 2018

Summary Reports from all meetings of the 2015-2017 Toronto Planning Review Panel. Session topics are in brackets.

  • January 23, 2016 (Townhouse and Low-Rise Apartment Guidelines)
  • April 2, 2016 (TOcore: Planning Downtown; Complete Streets)
  • May 14, 2016 (Parks & Recreation Facilities Master Plan; Growing Up: Planning for Children in Vertical Communities)
  • September 10, 2016 (Neighbourhood Urban Design Guidelines; Toronto Ravine Strategy)
  • October 15, 2016 (Evaluating the Panel Exercise)
  • November 26, 2016 (Parks & Recreation Facilities Master Plan; Development Review Signage)
  • January 14, 2017 (Preserving Heritage)
  • March 4, 2017 (TOcore; Scarborough Centre Transportation Master Plan)
  • April 22, 2017 (Don Mills Crossing; University of Toronto St George Campus Official Plan Amendment)
  • June 10, 2017 (Bathurst Quay Streetscape & Public Realm Improvement Plan; Laird in Focus)
  • September 16, 2017 (Rail Corridor Planning Framework; Parkland Acquisition Strategy)