FoNTRA Update – June 2024

Thank you to the folks at FoNTRA (Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations) for this informative update.  
FoNTRA’s Annual General Meeting will be held on June 18, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in advance of the regularly scheduled General Member’s Meeting. All FoNTRA members are encouraged to attend.

A critical focus in the month of June will be Bill 185 which undergoes clause-by-clause consideration at Queen’s Park. I

  Bill 185 – The Saga Continues      
Photo Credit: National Observer  
National Observer: More paradise paved? Backlash over Ontario development plans

By Abdul Matin Sarfraz | NewsPolitics | May 27th 2024

Reporter Abdul Matin Sarfraz provided an update on Bill 185 in the National Observer on May 27, 2024. 

Wilderness, wetlands and precious farmland will be threatened unless the Ford government withdraws its legislation to expedite home-building, says an Ontario coalition of concerned organizations.

A coalition of 65 organizations is pressing the Ford government to reconsider and withdraw Bill 185, also known as the Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, and proposed changes to the Provincial Planning Statement.

“Bill 185 continues the Ford government’s systematic dismantling of our democratic rights by taking away the right of the public to appeal sprawl development decisions,” agreed Victor Doyle, professional planner and former manager of planning with the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in a statement shared with Canada’s National Observer. “This means only developers will have the right of appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal – making it essentially a developers’ only tribunal. How is that fair?”

Full text of the article can be found HERE.    

The Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods (FUN) made a deputation at Queen’s Park. The FUN submission identified eight items in the Planning Act and two items in the Development Charges Act that would significantly affect our urban neighbourhoods.

Full text of the FUN submission can be found HERE.
On May 9, 2024, the Planning and Housing Committee (PHC) received a report and presentation on PH12.7 – City Comments on Proposed Bill 185.  

Josh Matlow observed that “Doug Ford’s Armageddon Bill 185 will destroy green spaces & sensitive lands, obliterate employment lands, & will cost Toronto hundreds of millions of dollars. “

FoNTRA submitted a letter to PHC in support of the report’s recommendations.    
Reach out to your local MPPs and raise your concerns.

EHON Neighbourhood Retail and Services Study    

Small-scale retail, service and office uses support daily life in neighbourhoods and encourage complete, connected communities, contributing to amenity, sustainability, equity, diversity and vitality. As part of the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods initiative, the City of Toronto is investigating ways to support the preservation and growth of these uses for existing and future residents of the City’s designated Neighbourhoods. Online Consultations: Wednesday, June 12, 2024, from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Monday, June 17, 2024, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  In-Person Meetings:   All presentations begin at 6:30 p.m. Etobicoke – Monday, June 3, 2024 – Toronto Public Library – Eatonville Branch Auditorium from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Scarborough – Thursday, June 6, 2024 – Scarborough Civic Centre – Rotunda from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Toronto and East York – Tuesday, June 11, 2024 – Metro Hall, Room 308/309 from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.  North York Centre – Wednesday, June 19, 2024 – North York Memorial Hall Burgundy Room A from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.    Free Tools and Events      
Photo Credit: City of Toronto  

New Tree Equity Tool for Greener Neighbourhoods

The city is partnering with American Forests and Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF), a non-profit conservation organization, to launch a new Tree Equity Score Analyzer.   The free online public tool allows users to take a closer look at tree equity – a way to describe whether a community is experiencing all the health, economic and climate benefits trees can provide – to design tree planting plans that positively impact their community.

Visit  the City’s webpage to find our more:   FIND OUT MORE    
Studyhub: Introduction to Urban Planning Course

Date: Sunday, June 20 Time: 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Location: Virtual Meeting

Are you fascinated by cities and how they function? Join us for this online course where you’ll explore the basics of urban planning from the comfort of your own home.

Throughout the course, you’ll learn about zoning laws, transportation systems, and sustainable development in urban areas. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how cities are designed and managed.

Studyhub is a UK-based online learning platform which aims to help individuals worldwide to realize their educational dreams. For five years, Studyhub has been dedicated to providing a comprehensive selection of high-quality courses designed to suit the needs of learners of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels.    REGISTER FOR THE COURSE        
Image Credit: Eventbrite  

Conversations on Toronto’s Don River Redevelopment

Date: Wednesday, June 26 Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Location: 401 Richmond Street West #LL01 Toronto, ON M5V 3A8
Join us for a dynamic panel discussion with author Jennifer L. Bonnell and the ROM’s Curator of Climate Change Soren Brothers.

Co-presented by Museum of Toronto and Spacing Store

What is the future of Toronto’s iconic Don River?

This talk explores the current revitalization project that is transforming the mouth of Toronto’s Don River. Hear opinions and insights into innovative urban planning strategies, sustainable design concepts, and community-driven initiatives.
Engage with experts and community leaders at the forefront of this project, and gain a deeper understanding of the conversation shaping the future of Toronto’s waterfront.   REGISTER FOR THIS

Richard Florida, Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the School of Cities and a University Professor at the Rotman School of Management, completed a recent assessment of Toronto and published his findings in a report published on April 1, 2024.

Toronto’s downtown has come back from its lowest economic indicator during the pandemic but remains some 30 percent below where it was in 2019, according to the latest edition of the Downtown Recovery Index developed by our colleagues at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities. This puts Toronto’s downtown 45th of the 66 North American downtowns the index covers.

To get a better sense of how Toronto’s downtown stacks up globally, we examined detailed data from a survey of 26,000 people in 53 cities conducted by the research division of Gensler, the global architecture, design, and planning firm. Since many cities have multiple downtowns, it covered 92 downtown areas, including three in Canada, 38 in the U.S., 12 in Europe, 20 in Asia, nine in Latin America, three in Africa, and seven in the Middle East.

Two areas of Toronto were included: Toronto’s long established downtown business district (Downtown Toronto), and Midtown Toronto.

What It All Means

First and foremost, Toronto’s Downtown business district lags other downtowns as a place to live, work, and play. It consistently ranked in the bottom half of global cities across all dimensions. Downtown Toronto ranked in the bottom 10th across two dimensions and in the bottom half in nine. Only one dimension – shopping – ranked in the upper half globally.  It did especially poorly as a place to start a family and raise kids, ranking 92nd and 89th globally.

This latter finding is especially concerning because, across the survey as a whole, families with children rated their downtown experience the highest of any group, with 93 percent of families with children under the age of six living downtown saying their downtown offered a great experience, and 85 percent of families with children over the age of six saying so (compared to 70 percent of those living alone).

The contrast between Toronto’s two districts – Downtown and Midtown – is striking. Across virtually every category, Midtown did appreciably better. It ranked first among North American downtowns for five of the ten activities, and the upper half globally on nine dimensions.

For the full article, you can visit the School of Cities.   Major Streets – The Day After    
Image Credit: City of Toronto
Toronto City Councils votes to approve on housing plan for major streets amid opposition
The City-initiated Official Plan Amendment (OPA 727) introduces policies that enable townhouses and small-scale apartment buildings (up to 6 storeys) to be built city-wide on properties designated Neighbourhoods and in the Residential Zone category along the major streets, as shown on Map 3 of the Official Plan.

Link to the CBC News article is HERE.

The City-wide Zoning By-law 569-2013 is proposed to be amended to: Permit townhouses and small-scale apartment buildings along the major streets in the RD, RS, RT and RM zones; Introduce built form standards for townhouses and small scale apartment buildings; Introduce two new definitions into Chapter 800, one for Primary Windows and one for Major Streets. Ward Maps are Now Provided

FoNTRA has previously complained the maps of the affected properties could not be read and were not usable. City Planning responded by providing maps for each ward in the City. Residents are encouraged to review the maps for their local neighbourhoods.

You can find a copy of the ward maps HERE.

Last Minute Changes

The Planning and Housing Committee approved the City Planning report on May 9, 2024. At this meeting, Councillor Brad Bradford made a motion asking for additional reports and recommendations to increase the cap on of maximum apartments to 60 units and several other changes. This motion meant that residents would not see the new proposals until the City Council meeting on May 22, 2024.

Note, that City Council subsequently voted to increase the apartment cap to 60 units but did not change any of the setbacks or other minimum requirements.

Amendments by Councillors at City Council

City Councillors made a number of motions with respect to this proposal, and most motions were not accepted.

Councillors Saxe and McKelvie made motions to exclude certain major street segments that had ‘steep topologies’ along side the major streets. These motions were approved.

Councillors Mantas and Kandavel made motions for area specific engagement programs for certain major streets in their respective wards. These motions were approved.

Next Steps for RA’s:

Residents’ association members should continue to examine the impact of the Major Streets decision on their communities and bring issues forward to their councillors (and FoNTRA).     If you are aware of any upcoming events that may be of interest to residents’ associations across the City, send the information to     Check out the FoNTRA website for the latest updates on events and activities across the city. The link to the FoNTRA website is HERE.