Toronto furious as Ontario announces major infrastructure changes without warning
The ongoing saga of Doug Ford vs. the City of Toronto advances this week with yet another bombshell announcement from Ontario's PC government of changes to existing municipal plans — changes that were made without warning or consultation and that will overwrite years of already-completed work.
Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clark revealed to the Globe and Mail in a piece published early Wednesday that his government wants to amend two official, previously-approved, long-term development plans within the city.
One master plan called "TOcore" was adopted by City Council last summer and lays out a 25-year vision to "manage growth, sustain liveability, achieve complete communities and ensure there is space for the economy to grow" within downtown Toronto.
The other plan, "Midtown in Focus," pertains to the city's fast-growing Yonge and Eglinton region and is meant to "ensure that infrastructure capacity not only keeps pace with development but also supports quality of life in Midtown."
This is a major blow for the city, to councillors, staff and residents who spent years making these midtown and downtown plans https://t.co/i32wjyqq9v— Jennifer Pagliaro (@jpags) June 5, 2019
Both master plans have been in the works for years, but could be scrapped (or at least changed beyond recognition) by Ford's government today.
Clark says that his team is resubmitting plans for both midtown and the downtown core to city staff today with "major revisions" meant to help address an ongoing housing affording ability crisis and to better comply with new PC government policies.
We don't know how, exactly, the plans will change at this point, though Clark did tell the Globe that province wants to increase the approved height limit for some buildings under the midtown plan.
To be fair council had last minute placed pretty draconian 15-20 storey height limits on almost all of Yonge-Eglinton that were pure politics and not actual sound planning.. TOcore had a few minor issues but was pretty solid overall. Hopefully changes aren’t too drastic.— Cale Vanderveen (@Cale_Vanderveen) June 5, 2019
Currently, the plan calls for "buildings no higher than eight storeys at the corner of Bayview Avenue and Eglinton Avenue East," where a Crosstown LRT station is planned.
Ford's government wants this revised to allow towers as tall as 35 storeys according to Clark, so that more housing units can be built near transit stations as part of the province's own transportation plan for Toronto.
'Fair enough,' some might say, but city councillors are furious over how the matter is being handled — and suspicious of the Ford government's true motives.
Province is throwing away 7 years of work to build a plan for downtown Toronto TOCore that is focused on building a strong and prosperous city. Instead, they are enriching their developer friends from behind closed doors. pic.twitter.com/HJwnRdDDut— Mike Layton (@m_layton) June 5, 2019
"TOCore provided clear guidelines to ensure growth doesn't compromise liveability," wrote Spadina-Fort York councillor Joe Cressy in response to the news. "Things like minimum unit sizes, access to sunlight, separation distances between towers, shadow on parks. The Province is throwing all of this out in favour of a few well-connected developers."
"Instead of planned and sustainable growth, it's the Wild West for developers," Cressy continued.
"This Provincial decision would fundamentally re-shape downtown for the next century," it reads.
"This government's disrespect and outright contempt for the City of Toronto is unlike anything we've ever seen," the statement concludes. "It is not acceptable. We will not stand for it."
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