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Weston Consulting News: November 2016
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Image: SMV Architects

Kick-starting development on St. Clair West

The first mid-rise condominium along the unique stretch of St. Clair Avenue West east of Old Weston Road, Scoop Condos will add to the rejuvenation of this exciting neighbourhood, which is dotted with new restaurants, cafes, boutiques, art galleries and businesses.  The six-storey development will include 72 suites and new ground level retail with direct access to the St. Clair streetcar line. Amenities will include a gym, communal dining area, library, and dog wash station. 

Weston Consulting’s planning and design experience and expertise was paramount in securing the approvals for this infill project, which backs onto a stable residential neighbourhood. Weston Consulting played a critical role in negotiations with the City of Toronto’s urban design and planning staff. The result was a design that achieves the highest and best use of the property while creating a harmonious transition to the scale of the adjacent, low-rise homes to the south.

The development was approved by the Ontario Municipal Board on October 13, 2016. The decision includes the approval of more than 20 variances to the applicable Zoning By-laws. Members of the Weston Team on this project included Ryan Guetter, Courtney Heron-Monk and Jason De Luca. 

Image:  Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs

Update on Provincial review of land use plans 

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs released draft amendments to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan in May, 2016. 

The proposed changes to the Plans would implement the recommendations of the Advisory Panel chaired by David Crombie.  Some of the key changes to the Plans include:

  • A new Urban River Valley designation in the Greenbelt Plan that would apply only to publicly owned lands;
  • New policies that permit the agricultural support network within the Protected Countryside of the Greenbelt Plan;
  • An updated description of the Oak Ridge Moraines Countryside Area land use designation that encourages the development of community hubs in rural areas;
  • New policies that allow municipalities to introduce legislation to “grow the Greenbelt” by designating new lands as Greenbelt Protected Countryside outside of the 10-year review of the Greenbelt Plan;
  • An update to the Niagara Escarpment Plan land use designations including the consideration of urban use amendments;
  • Increasing the intensification target in the Growth Plan to a minimum of 60 percent for all new residential development occurring annually within the existing built-up area (currently 40% percent);
  • Increasing the designated greenfield area density target in the Growth Plan to a minimum of 80 residents and jobs per hectare (currently 50 residents and jobs per hectare);
  • Requiring municipalities to plan for density targets and intensification around major transit stations;
  • Establishing stronger environmental, agricultural and planning criteria in the Growth Plan for settlement area boundary expansions;
  • Requiring municipalities to identify and protect prime employment areas;
  • Excluding prime employment areas and certain types of low-intensity employment uses from greenfield density targets; and,
  • Requiring municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe to integrate climate change policies into municipal official plans and to conduct climate change vulnerability risk assessments when they are planning or replacing infrastructure.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs allowed members of the public an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed changes to the Plans including obtaining technical information from municipalities, conservation authorities and landowners in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) to determine if further refinements to the Greenbelt Plan area are required. The public consultation period ended October 31, 2016. Weston Consulting submitted 25 letters to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs on behalf of our clients. These letters were site-specific in nature and spoke to our clients’ unique interests in the review of the Plans.  

The feedback received by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is being considered as part of their review and analysis of the proposed amendments to the Plans. The final Plans are expected to be released in early 2017. Weston Consulting will continue to monitor the review of the Plans on behalf of our clients and will be providing updates as the Ministry releases them. 

Please contact Josh Berry at ext. 310 for further information on the Provincial Co-ordinated Land Use Plan Review and the services that Weston Consulting can offer in response to the review of the Plans. 

Reform at the OMB

One of the oldest tribunals in Ontario, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) provides third party dispute resolution on land use matters, a key contribution to the planning process. Over time, there have been increasing calls for reform, and some have called for complete abolition of the OMB. In response, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is undertaking a review of the role of the Board. The Province will consider the OMB's scope and effectiveness with an eye to improving how the Board should operate within Ontario’s broader land use planning system. Proposed changes under consideration include:

  • Moving away from "de novo" hearings (where matters are considered by the OMB without consideration of previous municipal council decisions);
  • Requiring the OMB to send significant new information, that might arise during a hearing, back to municipal council for re-evaluation;
  • Bringing transit to more people by restricting appeals of certain decisions in support of provincially-funded transit (such as subways and bus stations);
  • Exploring funding tools to help citizens retain their own planning experts or lawyers;
  • Introducing the use of multi-member panels, either for complex cases or all cases;
  • Setting appropriate timelines for decisions, conducting more hearings in writing, and taking actions to make hearings more cost-effective and efficient;
  • Requiring all appeals to be considered by a mediator before scheduling a hearing; and
  • Preventing appeals of secondary plans, which are neighbourhood-specific plans, for two years.

These proposed changes will likely impact the way land use matters are dealt with at the local municipal level and ultimately evaluated at the Board. It is hoped that this review will result in a clear and consistent framework for dealing with planning matters, specifically development applications.

To gather stakeholder input and answer questions, the Ministry has been holding Town Hall meetings in various municipalities across Ontario. Weston Consulting was present at a number of these meetings to understand the Ministry’s direction, and will use this information to help guide our clients in navigating the changes that are to come. Additional information can be found on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs website at http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page14965.aspx

 OMB offices, 655 Bay St., Toronto. Image: Google Maps
Copyright © 2016 Weston Consulting, All rights reserved.


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