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Bridge Beat

Aug 1, 2018

NIMBYISM and Politics – A Bad Combination

Last month we saw most flagrant examples of NIMBYISM combined with political interference for vote-getting purposes occur, which destroyed 3 years of in-depth work on the Mid-town in Focus Study of the Yonge-Eglinton area. 

3 years after the City Council directed planning to review the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan, and after tremendous consultation with ratepayers, industry representatives and other interested parties, City Planning in June 2018, presented a draft plan to the Planning & Growth Management Committee for its approval.  The plan dealt with height restrictions for various sections of Yonge-Eglinton and proposed uses to improve park areas amongst many other items.

Notwithstanding 3 year of extensive consultations and studies, Councillor Robinson at the last minute, circumvented the entire consultative process at the Committee meeting in June 2018, by requesting that further consultation be held in a single community meeting to solicit feedback of the public on lowering heights.  This, in the face of the provincial growth plan that encourages and in fact demands a much higher density to meet the growth and populated and areas, and in particular, the over 100,000 new people that enter the GTA every year. 

A subsequent meeting in June 2018 was held with 140 members of the community who were presented with 3 options for height.  Not surprisingly, 84 of the 140 people that attended voted for the lowest height in the choices (15 storeys).  No material reference was made to the in-depth proposals and studies and the results of this meeting were sent back to the Planning & Growth Management Committee on June 21, 2018.  It decided to toss the City Planning Report of 3 years out the window and replace it with the decision of 84 people in the area.  Is there any worse example of NIMBYISM and political interference?  Whether the Planning Report submitted by the Planning Department provided for the right proposals or not, to circumvent the process by one single meeting without any in-depth analysis being conducted at that meeting is unacceptable.

Further, the City is utilizing a section under the Planning Act (Section 26) to bring forward these proposals to amend the Secondary Plan, so that there would be no right of appeal to the Local Planning Authority Tribunal ("LPAT"), which would normally be available for appeal of this type of planning decision.

To come up with such a decision in such a manner during an election is shameful, and distorts the democratic and planning process.  The Planning & Growth Management Committee and Council are simply subverting a fair process and emasculating a beleaguered Planning Department.

Representatives of Building Industry and Land Development Association ("BILD"), which represents and development and residential building industries strongly objected to the process being circumvented and requested that the Planning & Growth Management Committee support the original recommendations of the Planning Department, or at least defer its decision to further study the latest proposals.  Again, flagrant politics clearly prevailed with the councillors on the Committee, and this request was denied.

Council approved implementation of the report on July 30, 2018.

See the report here:

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2018.PG31.7

It is expected that affected land owners and BILD may legally challenge the use of Section 26 for this type of development decision.  In addition, as the approval by the Minister of Municipal Affairs to this Official Plan Amendment under Section 26 of the Planning Act is required, it is, therefore, quite possible that the Report may still not be approved and be sent back for further study by the Ford government.  For everyone's sake, let us hope the Ford government does so.

 

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Keywords

Minister of Municipal Affairs  |  BILD  |  Land Development Association  |  Building Industry  |  Planning & Growth Management Committee  |  Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan  |  City Council

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