Toronto Proposes New Official Plan Policies for Employment Lands
The City of Toronto is in the midst of a review of its Official Plan and a municipal comprehensive review looking specifically at designated areas of employment in the City. On November 21, Planning and Growth Management Committee held a special public meeting to consider draft Official Plan policies and designations for employment areas, as well as recommendations from the Planning Division on approximately 125 employment land conversion requests.
The draft Official Plan policies seek to eliminate the existing distinction between “Employment Areas” and “Employment Districts” and instead propose two designations of “General Employment Area” and “Core Employment Area”. The “General Employment Area” designation will include broader permissions for uses such as retail and restaurants.
New policies proposed with respect to employment land conversions are noteworthy in their potential effect on landowners who may be seeking to add or change uses on their employment lands in the future. These new policies declare that the addition of any use that is not permitted in an “Employment Area” is a conversion and removal of employment land. The policies go even further to declare that the introduction of “General Employment Area” use into a “Core Employment Area” is also a conversion.
These policies are likely to be controversial in light of the provisions of the Planning Act which restrict appeals of private official plan amendments that would remove lands from an employment area.
Planning and Growth Management Committee recommended that Council amend the Official Plan in accordance with the draft policies, subject to a number of modifications and amendments. The date for consideration by Council has not yet been set.
By: Meaghan McDermid