July 17, 2006

Toronto's new Official Plan provides for environmentally sound growth

The Ontario Municipal Board's (OMB) approval of Toronto's Official Plan on July 6 will lead to benefits for the city itself and its businesses, communities and residents. The document outlines where and how growth in Toronto will occur and how the city will evolve, improve and realize its full potential in areas such as transit, land use and the environment over the next 25 years.

The Official Plan is the first since Toronto's amalgamation and repeals most of the seven official plans inherited from the former cities that made up the metropolitan area. It is Toronto's only statutory document other than the provincial City of Toronto Act.

All city activities and work must conform to the Plan's policies and support its vision of providing a high quality of life based on a healthy environment, a strong economic foundation and improved community infrastructure.

The Official Plan promotes growth that relies less on the private automobile, specifying areas where significant new jobs and housing will be encouraged. A transit-based growth strategy in the document will direct development to areas with good transit while improving transit in major growth areas.

It emphasizes environmentally sustainable development and contains provisions intended to protect heritage buildings and resources and preserve natural areas and ravines.

The Plan protects the city's important employment districts and the physical character of its low-rise neighbourhoods. It includes design policies to guide the physical form of development and public realm improvements, and seeks to ensure that the social and environmental infrastructure is in place to serve Toronto's present and future residents.

City Council approved the new Official Plan in 2002 after two years of extensive public consultations with Toronto residents, urban experts, industry and other interested parties. Approval by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing came in 2003. This was followed by three years of work by city staff to resolve issues and concerns raised in approximately 180 appeals of the Plan that were filed with the OMB.

The result was a number of agreed-upon modifications that maintain the Plan's integrity and further strengthen its neighbourhood protection policies. A few key policy areas, such as rental housing protection and height and density incentives, are still under appeal and will be heard by the OMB later this fall.

Full details are available on Toronto's Web site, www.toronto.ca.

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