Years of unprecedented activity in Toronto's development industry have overwhelmed the underfunded Planning Department, and pushed more proposals into the Province's local planning and appeals process. Over 30,000 proposed residential units in well over 100 rezoning applications are currently held up in a backlog at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), while a housing shortage grows worse and a continued wave of new proposals threatens to compound the problems if the ability to process the applications is not addressed soon.

High-rise developments in Toronto, image by Forum contributor skycandy

The backlog extends beyond appealed proposals, also holding back recently appealed planning policies. Policies approved by City Council in 2013 to "enhance the social and economic well-being of the city and provide certainty in the planning process" remain under adjudication a full six years later.

Addressing the backlog, Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee and Toronto Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão announced this morning that she is introducing a motion to request a provincial funding increase for the LPAT to give priority to important City of Toronto policies. A statement from the Deputy Mayor reads "Unnecessary delays in the planning appeals process affect everyone, from residents looking to rent or buy their first home to businesses looking for confidence that there is enough housing for a growing workforce. Clearing the backlog in a fair and efficient manner could be the best tool the Province has to quickly bring more housing supply to market."

Ana Bailão speaking at a 2017 affordable housing announcement, image by Jack Landau

The pressure is now being put on the Province to increase funding, allowing the LPAT to hire the temporary staff needed to clear the building backlog. Brian Kelcey, VP Public Affairs at the Toronto Region Board of Trade, states that “This is a fixable problem if Queen’s Park can approach this backlog with the same urgency as they’re approaching other barriers to new housing supply. The payoff from fixing it should be thousands of new housing units approved for construction in just a matter of months, even if only a fraction of the projects in the backlog are approved on appeal.”

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