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Date: 30 July 1999

To: Members of Community Councils

From: Councillor John Filion

Ward 10

Re: Suggested Amendments to the Planning Process

At the July meeting of the Planning and Transportation Committee I proposed a number of amendments which the Committee asked be forwarded to Community Councils for their consideration.

For some parts of the new city, the proposals put forward by the Planning staff represent a major reduction in the level of community and local Councillor involvement in the planning process. Attached are my suggested amendments, along with a brief rationale for each.

Site Plan

It appears that each former municipality has slightly different ways of dealing with site plans. In North York, site plan is required not only for large-scale developments but also for townhouse construction and even for single family homes created by severance, on ravine lots and in Special Policy Areas.

The site plan process, now standard across the new city, requires that Councillors are fully apprised and have opportunity to comment on site plans before a building permit is issued. If there is a difference of opinion the site plan can be Abumped up@ to the Community Council for a decision. This allows Councillors to meet with surrounding residents and give them an opportunity to comment on such issues as tree preservation, landscaping, fencing, drainage and building design.

Staff is proposing that site plan be eliminated for smaller developments and that Councillors no longer need to sign off on them. Under what is being proposed, Councillors could still request a bump up within 14 days of site plan circulation. But this obviously does not allow time to determine whether there are legitimate community concerns which the applicant refuses to address. The result would be that Councillors would need to automatically bump up every site plan in order to preserve the right to do so.

My suggestion is that sections 3 (i) and 3(ii) be struck out so that the process continues as it is now.

Staff Discussions with Applicants

The report recommends Aroundtable@ discussions with applicants and staff very early in the process. This, in itself, is probably a good idea, but needs to be balanced by community participation at an equally early stage. Otherwise, there is a strong risk that the staff and the applicant reach conclusions prior to any community dialogue, which makes a sham of the latter.

My suggested amendment to 2(v) is that Asimilar roundtable meetings be held with registered ratepayer organizations or other interested individuals who indicate interest in the application or who are identified by the local Councillor(s) prior to any preliminary reports being signed@.

Notification of Residents

The report recommends the minimum required notice area, unless somebody (Councillors or the applicant) pays for a wider notification. With a recent application in my ward, the standard notice area for a 30-storey building covered only the adjacent properties in the redevelopment area but not the single family homes on the adjoining block.

There are also many instances in which the notice prepared by staff doesn=t provide sufficient detail so that residents could form an intelligent opinion about whether or not they had a concern.

My suggested amendment is that Astaff report on how the size of the notification area could be related to the area of impact of the proposed development@ and Athat any costs associated with an expanded circulation area be paid for by the applicant@.

Further, I suggest that the words Awith sufficient detail so that residents can form an opinion regarding the potential impact of the proposal@ be added to recommendation 2 (vi).

Preliminary Evaluation Reports

These reports, which are new to some parts of the city, are prepared by staff prior to any consultation with the community. In some instances, they go beyond a simple outlining of the issues and state a staff position with regard to such issues as density and building mass.

My suggestion is Athat preliminary evaluation reports not include staff comments which might prejudice the final staff recommendations which are made following formal and informal community input@.

Role of Councillors in Community Meetings

The report recommends that community meetings be chaired by the Planning staff. As someone who has always chaired community planning meetings in my ward, I find this suggestion insulting.

I propose that Amembers of Council continue to chair community meetings and that the Planning Department staff only do so if requested by the local Councillor(s)@.

The Fox Guarding the Henhouse

The staff report recommends that city staff no longer verify that a development has been built according to approved plans; instead the developer would hire a consultant who would verify this!! Enough said.


John Filion, Councillor

Ward 10, North York Centre



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