How do you get involved? You can write to your MPP (especially if they are a government member) and let them know that you support the FoNTRA concerns with Bill 138. This need to be done immediately as the Bill 138 goes to Committee for clause by clause review on Wednesday and Thursday of this week and may go back to the Legislature for 3rd Reading as early as next week.
The following is the position issued by FoNTRA which the OPA supports. If you are in agreement please email our MPP Jill Andrew at JAndrew-QP@ndp.on.ca.
December 2, 2019
99 Wellesley Street West Room 1405, Whitney Block Queen's Park Toronto, ON M7A 1A2
Attention: Julia Douglas, Committee Clerk
RE: Bill 138: Plan to Build Ontario Together Act, 2019
Dear Amarjot Sandhu, MPP, Chair, Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs,
The Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations (FoNTRA), represents 30+ residents’ associations with thousands of members in the North Toronto and North York area. Our organization’s comments are exclusively concerned with Schedules 10 and 31, the changes proposed by Bill 138 to the Development Charges Act, and the Planning Act, respectively.
1. Need for legislative authority to provide for and require registering agreements between municipalities and developers on title.
Section 37 of the Planning Act has been an effective mechanism to obtain funds for community benefits. A key aspect of its efficacy has been its inclusion of a mechanism for achieving a clearly enforceable contract between a developer and a municipality that is registered on title. It is important that this mechanism not be lost as a side-effect of repealing Section 37. Without authority for registration of agreements, it is too easy for unscrupulous entrepreneurs to escape obligations they have agreed to.
We urge you to add a provision authorizing registration on title of agreements between municipalities and property developers. Such agreements, among other things, may include provisions regarding agreements for in-kind contributions as well as liens against a property for deferred Development and Community Benefit Charge deferrals. We support the City of Toronto request for legislative authority allowing municipalities to require registration on title of agreements with developers.
2. Uncertainty and potential non-transparency associated with the determination of land-value-based development charges.
We are strongly in support of greater certainty in the determination of development and community benefit charges. For that reason, we have substantial concerns regarding the land-value-based cap on development and community benefit charges.
Land values, by their nature, are not well-determined. The new Community Benefit Charge (CBC) enacted by Bill 108 provides for the appointment of appraisers on both sides of a dispute, but the key point is that adjudication of disputes over land values is problematic, potentially expensive, and anything but transparent. It would be far better to base caps for development and community benefits charges on variables that are more easily determined, such as number of units, or density (FSI).
3. Need to retain separate provision of parkland dedication under the Planning Act.
Parkland dedication is of crucial importance in building complete communities, especially in dense urban areas such as central and north Toronto where intensification leads to large communities of residential towers that obstruct sunlight and where park availability is deficient. Children in such areas have few places to play, whether playgrounds for young children or sports fields for teenagers. The reduction in developer park contributions enacted by Bill 108 represents a serious blow to the development of healthy communities in intensifying areas in Toronto.
We urge you to modify Bill 138 to keep a separate provision for parkland dedication and for cash-in-lieu contributions where parkland dedication is not possible. If commingled with all other development charges, it is too easy for parkland dedication to be subordinated to pressures for the construction of hard services or the provision of other community needs.
Land value caps are not well-related to community parkland needs, which are measured in hectares not dollars. Ensuring an adequate supply of parkland and playing fields is as important in suburbs as it is in central Toronto. New subdivisions and intensified neighbourhoods should not be allowed to become park-deficient just because land values are lower in the outer parts of the GTA.
4. Need to ensure that there is no gap between the effective date of repeal of the former Section 37 and Section 42 provisions and the date of enactment of municipal Community Benefits Charge by-laws replacing those provisions.
It is of crucial importance that transition provisions do not provide a period in which developments can avoid both existing Section 37/42 obligations and the new Community Benefit Charge (CBC) that is to replace them.
5. Uncertainty and non-transparency introduced by the proposal to allow appeals of municipal development charge by-laws
While we have concerns about how such appeals will be adjudicated, we have particular concern regarding the one-sided limitation on the powers of the LPAT tribunal set out in the new section 37(11.12)(a). That section limits the powers of the Tribunal by providing that it may not amend or order the amendment of a by-law so as to increase the amount of a community benefits charge that will be payable in any particular case.
We are concerned that the appeal process introduced by Bill 138 may be potentially used by developers seeking to game the system through making appeals in order to achieve negotiated settlements that reduce the charges payable on their properties. Such settlements by their nature are confidential prior to approval by a municipal council, being essentially concluded out of the public eye, and so are anything BUT transparent or certain.
We recommend that, at a minimum, Schedule 31 be amended to provide that Section 37(11.12) be changed to provide that the Tribunal “may not amend or order the amendment of a by-law so as to increase or decrease the amount … payable in any particular case”
Geoff Kettel Co-Chair, FoNTRA
Cathie Macdonald Co-Chair, FoNTRA
Cc: Mayor John Tory and Members of Toronto City Council
Chris Murray, City Manager
Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning Division
Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods and other RAs
The Federation of North Toronto Residents' Associations (FoNTRA) is a non-profit, volunteer organization comprised of over 30 member organizations. Its members, all residents’ associations, include at least 170,000 Toronto residents within their boundaries. The residents’ associations that make up FoNTRA believe that Ontario and Toronto can and should achieve better development. Its central issue is not whether Toronto will grow, but how. FoNTRA believes that sustainable urban regions are characterized by environmental balance, fiscal viability, infrastructure investment and social renewal.