The City's planning process includes a variety of different types of applications to accommodate proposed construction projects that do not comply with all policies and bylaws, the subdivision of land, or a change in the use of land, buildings of structures. The most common types of applications that undergo a planning process are applications for Official Plan amendments, zoning bylaw amendments, site plan approval, draft plan of subdivision, minor variances and consent.
The planning process that is followed by the City is required to comply with minimum provincial requirements established in the Planning Act and associated Ontario Regulations. Applications for Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendments are considered by the planning committee (which holds public meetings required by the Planning Act) and, ultimately, by Council. Applications for minor variances and consent are considered by the committee of adjustment.
All current planning applications are mapped on DASH, the City's online Development and Services Hub. This tool shows the application's type and an overview of its details along with the name of the applicant and the City planner overseeing the file.
The City's planning approval process generally involves two presentations of an application before the planning committee. The first presentation is a Statutory Public Meeting, where members of the public can provide oral comments. The second presentation is associated with a comprehensive report. At this meeting, only Committee members could ask questions of staff, however the public does not have the opportunity to provide oral comments.
A review process began as per a motion passed by Council on March 1, 2016 which directed staff to look at ways to ensure that there are opportunities for the public to provide meaningful feedback on applications that are presented at planning committee meetings.
On April 3, 2017, staff hosted three focus group meetings followed by a Non-statutory Public Meeting at the planning committee held on July 6, 2017. At the meetings, staff presented options to improve public participation within the planning approval process (Report PC-060-17).
Based on the review of the options and the feedback received through the focus group sessions that were held, staff developed a recommendation that received Council approval on October 3, 2017. This recommendation will take effect at the planning committee regular meeting to be held on December 14, 2017.
The recommendation is as follows:
- All members of the public who attend the meeting at which the comprehensive report is presented before planning committee will have the opportunity to provide oral comments on an application.
- A five minute time limit will be enforced for each individual who wishes to provide oral comments.
- Committee members can ask questions of staff and the applicant has the opportunity to speak.
Allowing all members of the public to speak when the comprehensive report is presented to the planning committee will permit full public participation at the later stage of the planning approvals process, which could help to better inform a planning decision. Based on the recommendation approved by Council, the City's planning approvals process has been updated, which is indicated below.
The comprehensive report is typically presented at a regular meeting of planning committee and is open to the public. Those wishing to provide oral comments regarding an application are invited to do so. However, because this is not a Statutory Public Meeting pursuant to the requirements of the Planning Act, in order to retain appeal rights to the Ontario Municipal Board one must have provided oral comments during the Statutory Public Meeting and/or provide written comments in advance of a final decision by Council.