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Zoning Reform Ideas

Guest contribution within City Hall Watcher (highly recommended; worth the subscription!) on where the EHON work falls short:


“ Combined, the various EHON projects have produced the largest conceptual change¹² to Toronto’s housing policy in a generation. But EHON didn’t tackle exclusionary requirements related to lot size, coverage, and floor space index for most buildings. Or restrictions on semi-detached houses. So neighbourhoods with the worst zoning will likely be untouched by EHON.

I would describe EHON’s overall impact as smoothing down some of the hard edges of exclusionary zoning, while leaving it mostly intact.”

May I suggest Allen that you make clear that you are quoting from the piece above. You can do this by using screenshots, but otherwise, I might suggest both quotation marks and Italics, as it makes it clearer you're quoting the author vs posting your take.

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Here's my take on Damien's piece.

1) I think overall he's too harsh on EHON and understates the degree of change.

2) I think he has very valid points on FSI and even more so on lot coverage minimums. (I agree with removing the former on smaller proposals in neighbourhoods and the latter entirely)

3) He focuses a bit on the Bridle Path as the clear worst offender in terms of exclusionary zoning and he's entirely right on that. I have literally advocated in these pages for buying up the Bridle Path, and leveling anything that is designated heritage, and starting over. Even if it were left as an SFH subdivision, it could easily go from ~60 houses to ~360 houses and still be large homes on large lots. That said, It would make immense sense to be to do midrise on portions of Lawrence, and Bayview and potentially Post Road *

* I would really like to carefully consider the options for connecting Lawrence to Lawrence directly. It would be challenging (lots of big bridges) and could potentially adversely impact either York U's Glendon campus or Toronto French School's........still its worth a closer look.

If one did midrise at the edges of the Bridle Path, and some streets with luxury towns and or more conventional SFH etc. One could easily have triple 900 housing units which would be 15x the current number. That wouldn't make a dent in the City's housing crisis, but it would be a tangible gain and one that would make for great optics/symbolism.

5) I want to ask UT's zoning guru....... @innsertnamehere how a multiplex can be legal under EHON but a semi-detached is not. That seems silly, and contradictory.
 
May I suggest Allen that you make clear that you are quoting from the piece above. You can do this by using screenshots, but otherwise, I might suggest both quotation marks and Italics, as it makes it clearer you're quoting the author vs posting your take.
I’m sorry - it wasn’t my intention to somehow obscure the source. I’ll make sure to italicize as well to make it clear that the quoted section was from the article.
 
I’m sorry - it wasn’t my intention to somehow obscure the source. I’ll make sure to italicize as well to make it clear that the quoted section was from the article.

No worries. You're awesome. I just read it and at first wasn't sure, then I read the piece, and I was like, 'oh that bit was a quote'.
 
May I suggest Allen that you make clear that you are quoting from the piece above. You can do this by using screenshots, but otherwise, I might suggest both quotation marks and Italics, as it makes it clearer you're quoting the author vs posting your take.

****

Here's my take on Damien's piece.

1) I think overall he's too harsh on EHON and understates the degree of change.

2) I think he has very valid points on FSI and even more so on lot coverage minimums. (I agree with removing the former on smaller proposals in neighbourhoods and the latter entirely)

3) He focuses a bit on the Bridle Path as the clear worst offender in terms of exclusionary zoning and he's entirely right on that. I have literally advocated in these pages for buying up the Bridle Path, and leveling anything that is designated heritage, and starting over. Even if it were left as an SFH subdivision, it could easily go from ~60 houses to ~360 houses and still be large homes on large lots. That said, It would make immense sense to be to do midrise on portions of Lawrence, and Bayview and potentially Post Road *

* I would really like to carefully consider the options for connecting Lawrence to Lawrence directly. It would be challenging (lots of big bridges) and could potentially adversely impact either York U's Glendon campus or Toronto French School's........still its worth a closer look.

If one did midrise at the edges of the Bridle Path, and some streets with luxury towns and or more conventional SFH etc. One could easily have triple 900 housing units which would be 15x the current number. That wouldn't make a dent in the City's housing crisis, but it would be a tangible gain and one that would make for great optics/symbolism.

5) I want to ask UT's zoning guru....... @innsertnamehere how a multiplex can be legal under EHON but a semi-detached is not. That seems silly, and contradictory.
simple - multiplex is permitted, but semi-detached is not.

One example of how it can work in a more convoluted way - Hamilton recently passed similar legislation to Toronto opening up development in residential neighbourhoods.

The rules for one of the zoning categories are:

Minimum lot frontage:
Single-detached: 15m
Semi-detached: 7.5m
Townhouse: 5m

Result: you can build 1 detached, two semi-detached, or three townhouse units.

Want to build a 7.5m single-detached though? NOPE. It's stupid. The built form is basically the same, and a 7.5m single-detached is basically the Toronto special at this point down the QEW and results in the same density at a higher resale value that a 7.5m semi-detached would go for.. but not allowed! And good luck arguing a variance for it as it's "halving" the minimum lot frontage for the use, so I hope your end buyers like sharing walls!

Another issue I've seen with Toronto's multiplex by-law is that it does not override any existing site-specific regulations. So if there is a neighbourhood-specific standard regarding FSI or height or building depth or whatever, it continues to stand despite the base restrictions on those things being modified or removed. So while Toronto "legalized" multiplexes city-wide, the reality is that much of the City continues to have strict restrictions on these.

Ultimately most municipal zoning is way too prescriptive in general and needs vast simplification to enable intensification. Focus on simple performance standards like height and minimum setbacks from adjacent properties, and forget about differentiating how the buildings are divided on the interiors. Oh, and get rid of the old site-specific exceptions enforcing the old rules.

Toronto generally has by far and away the most complex zoning by-law in the province by several orders of magnitude. The City really needs to get a "zoning simplification team" put together to start pulling the by-law apart and simplifying it.
 
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2) I think he has very valid points on FSI and even more so on lot coverage minimums. (I agree with removing the former on smaller proposals in neighbourhoods and the latter entirely)

I honestly forgot that FSI still applied to proposals. I thought it was removed for plexes in the first tranche of EHON work? (Or perhaps all that was done was to harmonize the rules between detached and plex). Lot coverage minimums are nutty, and clearly exist to enforce a certain neighborhood ‘look’ and keep the poor(er) out.

Is there any appetite within Planning to look at either? I haven’t read anything to that effect publicly.

That said, It would make immense sense to be to do midrise on portions of Lawrence, and Bayview and potentially Post Road *

Yeah - nibbling at the edges would be a good way to start. I can’t imagine the furor if you went after the Bridle Path as a whole.

5) I want to ask UT's zoning guru....... @innsertnamehere how a multiplex can be legal under EHON but a semi-detached is not. That seems silly, and contradictory.

This was the most surprising point - and I should have explicitly called it out. I…didn’t even know this was possible? Isn’t a semi a form of plex? Is it called out explicitly?
 
Another issue I've seen with Toronto's multiplex by-law is that it does not override any existing site-specific regulations. So if there is a neighbourhood-specific standard regarding FSI or height or building depth or whatever, it continues to stand despite the base restrictions on those things being modified or removed. So while Toronto "legalized" multiplexes city-wide, the reality is that much of the City continues to have strict restrictions on these.

Ultimately most municipal zoning is way too prescriptive in general and needs vast simplification to enable intensification. Focus on simple performance standards like height and minimum setbacks from adjacent properties, and forget about differentiating how the buildings are divided on the interiors. Oh, and get rid of the old site-specific exceptions enforcing the old rules.

Toronto generally has by far and away the most complex zoning by-law in the province by several orders of magnitude. The City really needs to get a "zoning simplification team" put together to start pulling the by-law apart and simplifying it.

Thanks.

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I want to look at a couple of your points in greater detail:

Another issue I've seen with Toronto's multiplex by-law is that it does not override any existing site-specific regulations. So if there is a neighbourhood-specific standard regarding FSI or height or building depth or whatever, it continues to stand despite the base restrictions on those things being modified or removed. So while Toronto "legalized" multiplexes city-wide, the reality is that much of the City continues to have strict restrictions on these.

This is definitely a problem. I'm not sure if one can wipe out all of it with one stroke of a pen. I'm assuming you're generally referencing Secondary Plans above (correct me if I'm getting that wrong).

Some do have legitimate purposes, (for instance maintaining a certain character within a Heritage district) (yes, this has been misapplied, by Planning at the behest of Councillors but that's an entirely different discussion!)

But broadly, I agree, that Secondary Plans should not work at cross-purposes to City-wide goals.

Ultimately most municipal zoning is way too prescriptive in general and needs vast simplification to enable intensification. Focus on simple performance standards like height and minimum setbacks from adjacent properties, and forget about differentiating how the buildings are divided on the interiors. Oh, and get rid of the old site-specific exceptions enforcing the old rules.

I especially agree with the bolded.

Toronto generally has by far and away the most complex zoning by-law in the province by several orders of magnitude. The City really needs to get a "zoning simplification team" put together to start pulling the by-law apart and simplifying it

I like this point to and can get behind it.
 
IMG_3963.png


 
I have a question about the last-minute change to appeals by 3rd parties. Is the end result that they remain unchanged or was there still a meaningful change?



One of the significant amendments introduced by Bill 185 is the changes related to third-party appeal rights. Bill 185 limits third-party appeals to specific stakeholders only. Among those are the applicant, the Minister, public bodies, a “specified person” and /or registered owner of any land to which the Official Plan Amendment (“OPA”) or the Zoning By-law Amendment (“ZBLA”) would apply. The requirement for oral or written submissions to the respective municipal council prior to the adoption of the OPA or ZBLA will continue to be imposed in order to secure a right to appeal.

The new changes will also amend the Planning Act to expand the definition of “specified person”, which now includes other private and public bodies, such as holders of Aggregate Resources Act permits for lands within 300 metres of the licensed area.

Finally, except where a statutory exception applies, certain third-party appeals filed prior to the enactment of Bill 185 are to be dismissed where a hearing of the merits was not scheduled prior to April 10, 2024.


Hmm. Don’t RAs fall under the definition of “specified person”? (EDIT: as per detail in Dentons below, they do not.)
 
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Dentons has more details:


Expanded rights of appeal

The final version of Bill 185 restored certain appeal rights that the original version of the Bill sought to eliminate. In addition to public bodies and “specified persons” noted in the original version of Bill 185, registered landowners now maintain the right to appeal in relation to official plans and zoning by-laws that apply to their land, if the landowner made oral submissions at a public meeting or written submissions to the municipality prior to the municipality adopting the relevant official plan or zoning by-law.

However, it remains the case that existing “third-party” appeals (i.e. not by registered landowners) filed prior to the legislation coming into force will be dismissed, unless a hearing on the merits was scheduled prior to April 10, 2024, or a notice of appeal was filed by an exempt person or public body in respect of the same decision to which the appeal relates. In contrast, the recent updates allow existing appeals from “second parties” (i.e., registered landowners) to remain without being retroactively dismissed.

Importantly, the Ontario Land Tribunal Act and Ontario Land Tribunal Rules remain unchanged by Bill 185. As a result, third parties can still seek party status in existing Ontario Land Tribunal proceedings.


I think, functionally, RAs can still appeal and cause plenty of havoc, right? They can still seek third-party status at the OLT, and if you’re a member of an RA and you speak out at a public meeting against a proposal you can appeal the city’s decision.
 
I think, functionally, RAs can still appeal and cause plenty of havoc, right? They can still seek third-party status at the OLT, and if you’re a member of an RA and you speak out at a public meeting against a proposal you can appeal the city’s decision.

An RA as an entity cannot appeal as they are neither a specified person, nor, presumably, a registered land owner to whom an OPA or ZBA applies.

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I would be interested to hear from others on the wording's application in respect of neighbours.

The wording is

...,"registered landowners now maintain the right to appeal in relation to official plans and zoning by-laws that apply to their land, if the landowner made oral submissions at a public meeting or written submissions to the municipality prior to the municipality adopting the relevant official plan or zoning by-law."

Can you in fact make that argument if your land is not subject to the zoning/OP change? IF so, I imagine the linkage would be an immediate neighbour whose development or usage rights might be impeded.

Lets see if @innsertnamehere or @ProjectEnd have any thoughts.
 
registered landowners now maintain the right to appeal in relation to official plans and zoning by-laws that apply to their land, if the landowner made oral submissions at a public meeting or written submissions to the municipality prior to the municipality adopting the relevant official plan or zoning by-law
I wonder if this is tailored towards developers? Imagine if a zoning approval next door made intensifying their own land undeveloped (perhaps because of separation distance etc.)?

Also, (you’re asking this) if I own a property next door to an intensified piece of land, presumably I can still appeal for the usual reasons (traffic, shadowing, etc.)
 
This particular section actually refers to appealing official plans that apply to your land, not zoning bylaws that apply to your land. It's a bit of a maze of statutes, but after it's passed, the Planning Act will read:

Right to appeal​

(24) If the plan is exempt from approval, any of the following may, not later than 20 days after the day that the giving of notice under subsection (23) is completed, appeal all or part of the decision of council to adopt all or part of the plan to the Tribunal by filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the municipality:

1. A specified person who, before the plan was adopted, made oral submissions at a public meeting or written submissions to the council.
1.1 A public body that, before the plan was adopted, made oral submissions at a public meeting or written submissions to the council.
1.2 The registered owner of any land to which the plan would apply, if, before the plan was adopted, the owner made oral submissions at a public meeting or written submissions to the council.

So i think to the extent that the official plan encompasses the area in which the land you own is situated, you're captured by this, even if the provisions of the plan may not have any direct or specific impact on your land?
 
So i think to the extent that the official plan encompasses the area in which the land you own is situated, you're captured by this, even if the provisions of the plan may not have any direct or specific impact on your land?
I’m sorry - I’m still confused: it seems then, that this changes very little? Clearly I’m missing some important piece.
 
The intent of the legislation is to prevent neighbours from appealing your application, but preserve landowners rights to appeal and adjudicate Municipally-led OPAs and ZBAs like a secondary plan.

Neighbours, including if your neighbour is another developer, cannot appeal your application.

They CAN however still be parties to an appeal, if one occurs. So for example - council rejects your application, and you appeal that decision as the registered landowner for which the decision applies. The local RA can then ask the OLT to be a party to the appeal in the same way they would have before.

So there is a bit of extra incentive for developers to get approvals through council versus before, as going to the OLT opens you up to exposure to surrounding landowners through them being granted Party status.

Landowners will also continue to be able to appeal things like new Official Plans, ZBAs, etc. as long as they apply to their lands. Same with RAs, mind you..

So the appeal of council's approval of the Cummer Avenue rapid housing wouldn't happen any more, but Residents Associations can still appeal something like the multi-plex bylaw as long as they have a member who owns a property on which it applies.
 

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