• Councillor Mark Grimes

Managing Growth in Etobicoke-Lakeshore

Updated: Aug 3

Over the last several years, our community has been under siege by development, making Etobicoke-Lakeshore one of the fastest growing areas in the City of Toronto.

I’ve sat with many of you during community consultations, listening to our City Planners outline what a developer is proposing. Without fail, one of the questions I hear most is “why are you letting all of this development happen, why can’t you just say no?” It’s a reasonable question. The answer is that we’re under the thumb of the Province when it comes to development – the Province sets the bar for growth targets, and then kicks the ball back to municipalities who are left to figure out how to manage that growth. If you were to ask the Province, they’d tell you that land use is municipal jurisdiction. Technically, that’s correct. But the jurisdictional lines become blurred when you learn that municipal Official Plans are required to be consistent with provincial growth plans, and that Provincial Tribunals can (and do) overrule municipal decision making on development. We create the game plan at the municipal level, but we have to use the Province’s playbook, their rules, and their referees.

The bottom line is that intensification and growth is going to happen – it is provincially mandated.

In 2019, the Province introduced their growth plan – A Plan to Grow: A Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Under this plan, Toronto is expected to accommodate 3.6 million people, and nearly 2 million jobs by 2051. To respond to this mandate for growth, the Province has required that all municipalities update their Official Plan to align with the Province’s direction for growth and intensification. This is not to say that the City is opposed to all development – we’re facing a housing crisis and we need to find places for people to live, but this growth needs to happen responsibly. Some developers have taken provincial mandates to the extreme and are putting forward applications that are completely egregious, and in my opinion, downright greedy. The City cannot control what a developer chooses to propose, and the City is required to review all applications. When a development proposal is submitted, our City Planners provide comments back to the developer about the appropriateness of their proposal, and they identify areas of concern – whether it be heights, densities, no affordable units, lack of supportive infrastructure, or other shortcomings. Following staff reports and community meetings, City Council makes a decision based on Planning staff recommendations. The problems arise when developers don’t agree with the City’s decision and run to the Provincial Tribunals to overturn our decision, and neglect to take community concerns into consideration. The Province has even proposed new rules that would financially penalize cities for not reviewing development applications fast enough. We’ve worked together

to create growth plans for our communities, and it’s troubling when our plans and decisions are so frequently overruled by unelected, unaccountable bodies. This is not to suggest that we can’t hold our ground. Time and time again, I vote to send City staff to these Provincial Tribunals to fight development that our City Planners find to be egregious and inappropriate for our community. When development does happen, we use the tools at our disposal to ensure that the development works for the community. The point of this explanation isn’t to assign blame, but rather to illustrate the pressures we face. When we know the players, the process, and the rules, it enables us to create better solutions for our community.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at councillor_grimes@toronto.ca or 416-397-9273.