City of Toronto Passes New Harmonized Zoning By-law

June 19th, 2013 by Meliha Waddell

This blog was written by our law summer student, Michelle Stephenson.

On May 9, 2013 the Toronto City Council passed Zoning By-law No. 569-2013 (the “By-law”), which is a harmonized city-wide zoning by-law that harmonizes 43 zoning by-laws across the amalgamated city. Some of the by-laws being harmonized dated back to as early as the 1940s and 50s. Though the By-law is primarily an effort at harmonization, many properties through the City (particularly in older areas with zoning by-laws that have not been updated recently) will be subject to new property development standards.

The By-law does not repeal the previous zoning by-laws, which will remain in effect to regulate properties not included in the By-law, apply to the processing of building permit applications during the Transition Period, and define lawfully existing properties for the purpose of exemption clauses.
A previous attempt was made in 2010 to harmonize Toronto’s Zoning By-laws. That attempt was unsuccessful, as it resulted in a backlog of building permit applications due to the need to comply with both the old and new standards, and over 650 appeals. Ultimately, the City repealed the 2010 attempt to harmonize the zoning by-laws in May, 2011. The City has included special provisions in the latest By-law in an effort to address concerns identified through the 2010 attempt.

City of Toronto Passes New Harmonized Zoning By-law
A transition clause was created in the new By-law, which will be in effect for three years, so that applications will not be subject to dual review and the application of multiple sets of standards. Applications for building permits submitted prior to the enactment of the By-law will be processed under the provisions of the existing zoning by-laws only, and minor variances may be sought to the old zoning by-laws even after the enactment of the new Zoning By-law.

In addition, a special provision has been included in the By-law pertaining to minor variances so that existing buildings with previously approved minor variances will remain in force. Minor variances that have been approved but not yet acted upon, however, can only be relied upon if the new By-law is more permissive or if it has remained the same.
Exemption or grandfathering provisions, applying to building standards, will apply to lawfully existing buildings: which were in existence before any zoning by-laws were in place, which complied with the former zoning by-laws, or which complied with a finally approved minor variance. It will also apply to buildings for which a permit was issued during the transition period.

The deadline to file a Notice to Appeal regarding all or part of the new By-law is June 4, 2013. However, to file an appeal, an oral or written submission to the council must also have been made before the By-law was passed, or there must be reasonable grounds to be added as a party in the opinion of the Ontario Municipal Board.

For more information about how the City’s new harmonized Zoning By-law No. 569-2013 affects your property, contact our Planning and Development group.


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