TORONTO – Today, Councillors Joe Cressy (Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York), Mike Layton (Ward 11, University-Rosedale) and Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 13, Toronto Centre) announced a new Downtown Development Traffic Light system to manage development in light of significant Provincial changes to the Downtown Master Plan, TOcore.
"Downtown currently produces 51% of city's GDP and 25% of tax base, and contains 33% of jobs, 38% of residential development, and 40% of commercial development in Toronto," said Cressy. "TOcore was developed as a Master Plan for downtown Toronto, to ensure communities are vibrant, liveable, and sustainable. We must protect that vision."
In early June, the City learned that the Province had unilaterally made 224 changes to TOcore, a City Council-approved master plan for downtown Toronto designed for the next 25 years. These changes include removing the requirement for new developments to build or help pay for appropriate infrastructure – like sewer or water pipes, community facilities, and parks - de-prioritizing commercial uses in the Financial District, restricting tools available to secure community infrastructure, and more.
This Provincial decision will fundamentally re-shape downtown for the next century. "Toronto deserves good planning that responds to the needs of neighbourhoods and local communities," said Wong-Tam. "TOCore was intended to secure the childcare, community space, libraries, affordable housing, parkland and other amenities that our neighbourhoods are severely lacking in. While the province has gutted TOCore, there are still steps we can take. First and foremost, if developers will not meet the guidelines and principles set out in TOCore, they are going to the back of the line."
The three downtown Councillors remain committed to implementing the vision of TOcore, to ensure downtown is liveable, vibrant, and sustainable. To do this, going forward the Councillors will consider all of their development projects according to a Downtown Development Traffic Light system. If projects follow the principles of TOcore, such as providing appropriate community infrastructure like parks, sewer and water pipes, community facilities, they will get a green light. These projects will be prioritized by the Councillors.
Projects that do not follow TOcore principles will get a red light. The Councillors will pursue multiple strategies for red light projects, including deprioritizing those projects in their offices, considering applying a holding provision or denying ancillary permits like road occupations or tree removals, and changing the time of various fee payments. The Councillors will also be asking City staff to begin posting prominent signage at every development site if community infrastructure is insufficient to support new residents (similar to what school boards already do) and to continue to provide analysis to City Council based on TOcore principles and goals.
"We created the development traffic light system to make things very clear. We will continue to work with all developers who commit to putting city building ahead of profit and who will build the parks, services and community spaces we need," said Layton. "If a development doesn’t meet the needs of the community and of our downtown core, we’ll do everything we can to stop it".