Communication is extremely important in any relationship, and the City of Toronto has been making big efforts of late to engage the ever-expanding populace in several different ways. As our city grows and intensifies we face more and more complex decisions that will shape what kind of city we become. Direction for future growth comes through the lens of our Official Plan. The plan is a publicly available document that sets down guidelines for everything from building a more livable urban region to supporting business and employment growth.

Now, as part of a mandatory every-5-year review process, the City is currently holding a series of public consultations on proposed changes to the Official Plan's economic policies and its land use designations for employment lands. The proposed changes more specifically reflect the City's desire to preserve current lands designated solely for business and economic purposes. As the downtown residential market seems to be going full steam ahead and commercial office space vacancy rates continue to shrink, the debate over the use of Toronto's traditional employment lands wheather they be in the Financial District our the West Don Lands is sure to be an interesting and important one.

One public consultation has already been held in Etobicoke and there are 3 more to be held:

  • Thursday, February, 14, 2013, Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive
    • Afternoon open house 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm, presentation and facilitated discussion at 3:30 pm
    • Evening open house 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, presentation and facilitated discussion at 7:00 pm
  • Tuesday February 19, 2013, North York Civic Centre, Members Lounge, 5100 Yonge St.
    • Afternoon open house 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm, presentation and facilitated discussion at 3:30 pm
    • Evening open house 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, presentation and facilitated discussion at 7:00 pm
  • Wednesday, February 27, 2013, City Hall, Council Chambers and Members Lounge, 100 Queen Street West.
    • Open house 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, presentation and question and answer period at 7:00 pm
    • will LIVE stream this meeting where you can tweet (#opreview) in your comments and questions. Bookmark RogersTV webpage for this public meeting.

Residences at the RCMI Under Construction, TorontoThe Residences at the RCMI squeezing into a foremerly employment only avenue, Image by Jack Landau

Now, if you are like we here at UrbanToronto and can't get enough of learning about and participating in our citiy's future, there's another important meeting on the 27th, an open house you might want to check out. This one is being held right before (and partially overlapping) the final Employment Lands consultation, but it's located a few blocks from City Hall at Metro Hall (so if you're a fast runner, you should be able to get to both!). This event concerns an update to city wide zoning by-laws, and covers everything from specific zoning exceptions for height (which many of the skyscraping buildings we cover here at UT have applied for) to zoning rules for entire neighbourhoods.

The open house will be held on Wednesday, February 27 from 4 to 8 p.m. in the rotunda at Metro Hall, 55 John St. It will be followed a week later by a statutory public meeting on Wednesday, March 6 at 9:30 a.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 100 Queen St. W.

Also, if you are curious about the different zoning by-laws for a specific property, the city has created interactive maps where you can punch in an address and see all the laws effecting that property. If you want to attend this consultation or learn more about the city's zoning by-laws check out more details here.

Aura at College Park Under Construction, TorontoNow under construction Aura at college park which is zoned to rise high above it's neighbours, Image by Jack Landau

Finally, a quick reminder of the City's most memorable campaign for public involvement, the aptly named "Feeling Congested". Feeling Congested is a campaign launched by the City at the end of January to engage Torontonians in a wide variety of discussions dealing with transportation issues in the city. So far these consultations have not just been focusing on TTC users but also people who drive, walk and bike to get around. The City's planning department plans to take advice from the public on how to make travel in the city more fluid and acccessable so that it can make accurate modifications to the Official Plan. The final meeting is ON NOW UNTIL 9 PM at City Hall in the Rotunda. For more information on the meeting and how to make your voice heard check out the Feeling Congested site here.

Morning Commute, TorontoMorning Commute, Image by rockandrollfreak