midtown toronto

Ontario government makes hundreds of changes to Toronto infrastructure plans

Doug Ford's provincial government continues to wage war upon the City of Toronto this week — and vice versa — over two major, previously-approved infrastructure development plans for the city.

Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clark revealed earlier this week that his government would be amending two master plans: TOcore (a 25-year vision for downtown Toronto) and Midtown in Focus (a plan for the fast-growing Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood.)

The provincial government's modified versions of both plans were resubmitted on Wednesday, according to City of Toronto Chief planner Gregg Lintern, and they're intense.

Lintern wrote in a memo to City Councillors sent Thursday evening that Ford's camp made 194 "modifications" to the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan, as well as another 224 modifications to the plan for downtown.

In total, the PC government wants to overrule some 418 decisions already made by the City of Toronto over decades of planning work.

Changes highlighted in Lintern's report for TOcore specifically include more permissive language, less policy direction, the removal of many requirements for developers and the reduction of "sunlight protection for public spaces, including parks and sidewalks."

"City Planning staff are continuing to assess the Minister's modifications and will provide updates as that work advances," states Lintern in both reports, noting that a full report will be prepared in time for July's City Council meeting.

Critics, such as Spadina-Fort York councillor Joe Cressy, are livid over the proposed changes and how they were announced — again, without any sort of warning or consultation with city officials.

"Requirements for parks, childcare & community centres — gone. Restrictions on additional shadow on parks — gone," wrote Cressy of the changes in a widely-shared Twitter thread on Thursday night.

"Wider sidewalks to accommodate growth — gone. Measures to protect and enhance health services along University Ave. — gone. Requirements for family-sized units — gone."

"We spent 7 years developing a 25 year plan for downtown to ensure that it remains liveable as it grows," Cressy continued. "Downtown has the fastest growing neighbourhoods in North America, with a population projected to double to 500k over the next 25 years. The notion this is about supply is BS."

Cressy isn't alone in his criticsm.

Councillors John Filion, Kristyn Wong-Tam, Mike Colle, Josh Matlow and Mike Layton all joined Cressy and other community leaders in a press conference this morning to speak out against Ford's proposed changes.

"Doug Ford chose to sell us out to developers," wrote Matlow on Twitter of the amendments.

"He replaced the city's new Midtown in Focus plan with one that removes affordable housing requirements and the necessity to provide infrastructure, social services and parks — even windows in bedrooms." 

"But, we get more beer," concluded Matlow. "Shameful."

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