A proposed zoning framework to bring the City’s zoning by-laws into conformity with Official Plan Amendment 231 (OPA 231) was endorsed by the Planning and Housing Committee on December 10, 2019. There are two phases proposed: Phase 1 would remove zoning permissions for sensitive uses and other non-permitted uses in industrial zones in all former general zoning by-laws and the city-wide Zoning By-law for lands designated as Employment Areas in the Official Plan. Phase 2 would bring all lands designated as Employment Areas in the Official Plan into city-wide Zoning By-law 569-2013 and amend the permitted uses to ensure conformity with OPA 231.

Zoning Conformity Review

Zoning regulations in the city-wide Zoning By-law were written before the current Official Plan (OP) policies. As a result, the in-force Zoning By-laws permit many sensitive uses in what are called industrial zones.

The City is required by Provincial regulation to ensure that all of its Zoning By-laws conform with the City of Toronto OP. The City is working to bring its Zoning By-laws into conformity with the OP policies for Employment Areas. Phase 1 of the review to achieve the required conformity began in December 2019, and involves the removal of sensitive land uses, such as daycares and places of worship, as permitted uses in Zoning By-laws for lands designated as Employment Areas.

Existing uses that were lawfully established, and which are being recommended to be removed, may be considered legal non-conforming uses. Legal non-conforming uses can continue to operate, and may seek permissions to expand.

Why Employment Areas in Toronto are important

Employment Areas are places for businesses and economic activity. In 2020, they accommodated over 400,000 jobs, representing about 25% of all jobs in Toronto and about 87% of all manufacturing jobs in the City, which include food processing, textiles, electronics and vehicle parts.

Employment Areas provide locations for diverse employment options, keep the production of goods and shipping close to where people live, help maintain and grow the City’s economy, and help achieve a balance in the growth of population and employment.

There is a limited amount of land in Toronto that is suitable for industrial uses, which is why designated Employment Areas need to be protected.

Protecting Toronto’s Employment Areas

Toronto’s OP includes extensive policies that recognize the importance of these Employment Areas. In December 2013, the City of Toronto adopted OP policies (OPA 231) to further support and protect Toronto’s Employment Areas, including restrictions on sensitive uses.

The OP states that if sensitive land uses such as schools, places of worship or community services, are introduced into Employment Areas industries may be forced to change their operations, or even relocate, for example, when complaints are made about negative effects from industrial operations. While sensitive uses can locate in nearly all other areas of the city, industrial operations are limited to operating in carefully selected Employment Areas. OPA 231 clarified and strengthened land use policies directing that sensitive and incompatible land uses be located outside of Employment Areas.

What is happening through Phase 1 of the review?

At the time of enactment of city-wide Zoning By-law 569-2013 on May 9, 2013, lands with industrial zoning in the former general zoning by-laws that did not conform to the Employment Area policies of the Official Plan were left out of the city-wide Zoning By-law. As a result, the former general zoning by-laws are still in effect for these lands.

At its meeting on December 16, 17 and 18, 2013, City Council adopted Official Plan Amendment 231 (OPA 231) for Employment Areas as part of the five-year Official Plan and Municipal Comprehensive Review for Employment Lands. OPA 231 affirmed that sensitive uses should not locate in these areas.

The former general zoning by-laws permit a number of uses no longer contemplated for lands designated as Employment Areas in the Official Plan, including many sensitive uses, such as day nurseries, places of worship, education uses and hotels.

Phase 1 of the study proposes to remove zoning permissions for sensitive and other non-permitted uses in industrial zones in all former general zoning by-laws and the city-wide Zoning By-law for lands designated as Employment Areas in the Official Plan. The Phase 1 review was completed in spring of 2021.

A Final Recommendations Report with Zoning By-law Amendments was prepared for the June 28, 2021 meeting of the Planning and Housing Committee. This report also includes discussion regarding next steps on Phase 2 of the framework.

Two public consultation meetings were held on November 2 and November 4, 2020, where participants could learn more about this study, ask questions and share their comments. Based on the expert advice of our Medical Officer of Health to practice physical distancing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of Toronto residents and our staff, these meetings were online and phone-in only.

A copy of the presentation can be requested by contacting the staff contact on this page.

We would still like to hear from you. For questions, to comment, or for more information, contact Carola.Perez-Book@toronto.ca.

October 18, 2021 – Planning and Housing Committee

The reports and Zoning By-law amendments recommending removal of sensitive land uses, and other non-permitted uses in the employment-industrial zones, will be before the Planning and Housing Committee (PHC) for discussion and decision.

The recommended amendments will ensure that the Zoning By-laws are updated, as required by Provincial regulation, to reflect the Council-adopted OP policies that protect Employment Areas.

September 21, 2021 – Planning and Housing Committee

This item, including a Supplementary Report, was considered by Planning and Housing Committee on September 21, 2021. The Planning and Housing Committee postponed consideration of this item until the October 18, 2021 meeting of the Planning and Housing Committee at 10:30 a.m.

June 28, 2021 – Planning and Housing Committee

Staff prepared a final recommendations report with zoning by-law amendments for Phase 1 which was presented at the June 28, 2021 Planning and Housing Committee meeting.

The report summarizes the Phase 1 review and recommends amendments to all of the in-force zoning by-laws to remove permissions for sensitive land uses or other land uses that are not permitted in General Employment Areas or Core Employment Areas under the policy direction of OPA 231. The report also describes the next steps for Phase 2 of the review.

At its meeting of June 28, 2021, the Planning and Housing Committee adjourned the statutory public meeting under the Planning Act until the September 21, 2021 meeting of the Planning and Housing Committee, and requested the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, to provide a supplementary report to address some additional matters.

The draft zoning by-law amendments are available online.

December 10, 2019 – Planning and Housing Committee

The Planning and Housing Committee endorsed the proposed zoning framework outlined in the Staff Report as the basis for review to be undertaken to achieve conformity with Official Plan Amendment 231. Staff were directed to conduct public consultations on Phase 1 of the proposed zoning framework, which would remove zoning permissions for sensitive uses from lands designated as Employment Areas. A Final Recommendations Report with Zoning By-law Amendments for Phase 1 is anticipated in the first half of 2021, including next steps on Phase 2 of the framework.

Map showing Official Plan Employment Area (For an alternate format of the map, please email the staff contact on this page).