UPDATED: New Provincial Rules Would Help Developers, Hurt Communities

Residents may be interested in the formal submission made by the City of Toronto to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on April 20 as part of the formal consultation process. 

That submission can be read here.

John’s submission is also linked at the end of the original post below.

Original Post (April 17, 2020):

Most developers in Willowdale will be paying much less towards the cost of new parks, child care centres, community centres and other facilities if a new Ford Government proposal becomes final.

In a comparison of new and old rules, one development site in the Yonge/Sheppard area would generate $9 million less towards the capital costs of building local facilities, according to City staff. And that’s a best case scenario because the new rules are also much more restrictive on how and when the money can be spent.

How devastating will this be to our community? Up until now, as the Willowdale population has skyrocketed from highrise construction, developers have been required to pay for new facilities needed to handle the additional residents. But developers found a sympathetic ear in the Ford Government. First, it re-instituted a renamed OMB, which frequently over-rides the City’s planning rules. Then it announced plans to reduce developers’ payments to the city.

Here’s a partial list of neighbourhood parks and facilities built from development funds: Edithvale Community Centre, Gibson Park, Parkview Neighbourhood Garden, Lee Lifeson Art Park, Maplehurst Park, Avondale Park, Yonge Hearts Child Care and child care centres at McKee, Churchill and Avondale schools and at Lansing United Church in addition to a new child care centre and Family Resource Centre soon to open in the Sheppard Centre.

Imagine Willowdale with half those missing. That’s the future we’re looking at as much more new highrise development is forced on us while the developers this benefits will pay less.

Perhaps Willowdale MPP Stan Cho needs to be reminded of the public promise he made that Willowdale would be better off under the new rules. Not true, Mr. Cho. And you only have a short time left to do something about it.

The Province of Ontario has set a deadline of Monday, April 20 for public comments on its website and, presumably, it intends to approve the plan soon afterwards.

For those interested in details, the City compared 28 sites under the new and old rules. The site at Yonge and Sheppard did the worst of any of them under the new rules, which is not surprising given that the existing North York Centre Plan was designed by residents’ groups and Mayor Mel Lastman to make sure developers paid their fair share. No other area in the city generates as much for new facilities.

But the new rules produced negative results throughout the city. At all 28 sites studied by the city, developers would be paying less than they now are.

At the Yonge/Sheppard site, the developer is currently paying $5 million for parkland, $11.5 million in Section 37 benefits for local community facilities, and $23.7 million in Development Charges that are used mostly for large city infrastructure projects.

Under the new rules, someone with an identical development on an identical site with a land value of $59.6 million would pay $8.9 million towards a new fund that replaces the combined $16.5 million parkland and Section 37 payments. It’s also worth noting that the smaller payment would not be earmarked for local use.

Development charges would also be affected: $21.8 million instead of $23.7, with the difference being that “soft services” such as libraries would not generate any capital funds.

With COVID-19 overwhelming us, it is hard to think beyond the crisis. In addition to the terrible health toll, we will no doubt be facing a seriously weakened economy and governments at all levels buried in debt. As we enter a new normal, this barely-noticed provincial legislation will greatly weaken the city’s ability to cope.

If so inclined, register your opinion at https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-1406.

Several local residents associations, including Edithvale-Yonge, West Willowdale and Willowdale Central, have also arranged a live video chat for Saturday, April 18 at 10 AM as an opportunity for their members to learn more. To participate, click here to access the WebEx meeting at that time (your computer may prompt you to install the WebEx platform). Meeting number is 809 885 351. Password is MelLastmanSq.

John’s official submission to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing can be viewed here:  Filion Bill 108 Regs Submission