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Northern Light

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I'm going to place this article from The Star, by Stephen Punwasi here:


Its not about zoning; but it is about housing prices; and speaks to related issues, including how the out-of-control nature of the former, may affect future immigration to Canada and how its already affecting productive deployment of capital.
 

Ward8

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There have been a few articles circulating lately about the overreach of heritage preservation in cities around the world. The basic thesis is that heritage departments have, in some circumstances, become a tool for rich property owners to prevent the building of new housing in their neighbourhood. It got me thinking that a smart, simple heritage plan would be necessary to allow the smooth rollout of city wide upzoning. I was also comparing this notion to my concerns about the destruction of fine grain retail on Toronto main streets. I think that the midrise guidelines often lead to poor urbanism, and all glass podiums have become toxic to so many places that should be vibrant. I think upzoning and heritage reform should be integrated to allow for clear rules on intensification, the preservation of historical buildings, and the preservation of fine grain walkable main streets. It would look something like he following, though keep in mind, the idea is a rough sketch.

Properties would get one of 4 possible designations:

Heritage Level 4: This is the most strict level of heritage preservation. Basically don't touch the building under any circumstances other than for preservation. This is the Roman Colosseum/Stone henge level of protection.
Heritage Level 3: Similar to above but for buildings that are still in use by the public for their intended purpose. This level would allow for improvements and additions while preserving the historical importance of the building. Projects like the Massey Hall renovation and Robarts Library addition come to mind as examples. These top two levels should be used sparingly.
Heritage Level 2: This would pertain to fine grain, main street retail buildings, and some forms of housing. It would be similar to the run of the mill facadism that we've become used to, but it would differ by mandating the retention of more of the original building elements. For example, if a developer wanted to build housing on top of a level 2 building, the only changes they would be able to make to the original structure would be to structurally prepare it for the additional floors and add an accessibility elevator. Essentially, you would be left with the same building with new housing extruded from the top of it. It would be different from facadism in that a more complete version of the building would be retained. It would also prevent large land assemblies by disallowing the combination of multiple level 2 sites. This would be beneficial to the street level urbanism, though the drawback would be reduced available density on the site. More detail would be needed to make things code compliant. There are enough similar building typologies in toronto that a consistent blueprint could be applied across thousands of properties. The goal would be to provide a copy and paste template that densifies the city while preserving good architecture and good urbanism.
Heritage Level 1: Facadism.

The idea was to create a system where heritage properties can grow and evolve with the city and hopefully provide clarity from the current, more ambiguous, levels of heritage protection.
 

innsertnamehere

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so in the opposite path of zoning reform and making the development process more accessible, the City of Toronto has stopped selling all copies of the former Toronto zoning by-law, and has made it available only via digital viewing at the Toronto Archives with no copies permitted.

This by-law is still in force for probably about 70% of lands in the former City of Toronto, and is the only zoning by-law for ~20% of lands.

Again - the only way to view this by-law, which places significant restrictions on private property, is to view them in person at a single location in the city and for which no copies are permitted to be taken.

Absolutely insane. There is no reason it shouldn't be just uploaded in PDF form for viewing online, yet alone be restricted to copyless viewing in a single location in the city.


Hard copies of the Former City of Toronto and City of York zoning bylaws are not currently available.

Electronic copies of the former City of Toronto (438-86) zoning by-law are available for review and research purposes from the City of Toronto Archives at 255 Spadina Rd.

Please note, the Archives will not have copies (hard copy or electronic) of bylaw consolidations for sale or distribution.

The other former municipal by-laws are hardly better. Scarborough is only available for hard-copy purchase, which costs several hundred dollars, or review at the Toronto Building counter at the Scarborough Municipal Centre. Etobicoke's is available online, for some reason, but North Yorks is only available for purchase.

Toronto's, Yorks, and East York's are not available for purchase and can only be viewed at the archives.
 
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innsertnamehere

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How do they justify that?
my understanding is that they are concerned about liability in case someone looks at an older unconsolidated version of the by-law and interprets it wrong as a result.

Of course there are giant asterisks everywhere on city sites saying that a full review by a zoning examiner is required to confirm zoning requirements, but I'm not sure how uploading them online would make them liable. Every other municipality manages to do it, and Toronto even does it for it's new by-law and Etobicoke's bylaw for some reason.
 

Northern Light

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A whole slew of reports are headed to next week's Planning and Housing Ctte agenda discussing zoning reforms relating to multiplex's, housing on mainstreets and retail.

I'll post the multiplex one first.


Note, sadly, we're not yet at a final report here..............however..........there is some pretty good news on this one, which is addressing permissions for housing up to four-plex scale throughout much of the City.

- Planning staff barring a complete turnaround will be moving to permit multiplex housing in the Yellowbelt, city-wide.

- There are draft proposals on loosening any number of restrictions that make these difficult today that seem quite solid.

- There was broad support for the idea of allowing this among stakeholder groups and the broader public, across neighbourhoods, age groups and income levels.

Proposed Final Report is Q1 2023.

Draft by-law is here: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ph/bgrd/backgroundfile-227725.pdf

Design Modelling (massing renders of what the City is looking to permit); https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ph/bgrd/backgroundfile-227728.pdf

I would be keenly interested in @AlexBozikovic 's take on this; and @ProjectEnd 's as well. If this gets through council, are the draft changes enough to make this happen with some regularity? Has the City got this right (ish)?

I'll post on the other reports below when I get a moment!
 
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Northern Light

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The 'Major Streets' report is here: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ph/bgrd/backgroundfile-227634.pdf

This is also an 'interim' report.

Where the multiplex in neighbourhoods reports provide a very clear direction as to where City staff are headed, this one is a bit more muddy.

I see a lack of specifics as yet.

This bit was a worthy factoid though:

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1656340246762.png

***

Of note with the above is that the home lot width on a major road varies widely from as little as ~4M in parts of the old City to 13M on many inner suburban lots and even upwards of 18M on on some outer suburban lots.

If we assumed an average of 10M per house we'd be looking the potential for change affecting ~25,000 lots

***

There are maps of the City's 'major streets' in attachments, here: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2022.PH35.2
 

Northern Light

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Finally the report on retail/services in Neighbourhoods is up.

It is a Final Report (sort of)..........Final for 'Phase 1'.

The report proposes some positive changes to the Official Plan in regards to the above; though it doesn't yet touch the Zoning by-law (phases 2 and 3).

Don't expect what's here to change much in the near term, but its an ok start.


From the above:

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**

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Northern Light

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Yeah this is a dumb, and also just sort of bizarre, approach — who wants a nail salon in their neighbourhood before a cafe or ice cream
shop?

I concur.

But I think, in fairness to staff, the specific list above was about permitting a greater range of self-employment, live-work type businesses city-wide, and was seen as a low-hanging fruit move.

The report's overall tone is favourable to a wider range of business types, but a lot of that seems to be left to the future phases of neighbourhood retail, those dealing w/the zoning by-law as opposed to the Official Plan.

But certainly, I'm underwhelmed, so far.
 

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