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.
On March 1, 2016 Council passed a motion which directed staff to look at ways to ensure that there are opportunities for the public to provide meaningful feedback on Planning Act applications that are presented at planning committee meetings.
The City's planning process, following the legislated requirements of the Planning Act and associated Ontario regulations, generally involves two presentations of an application before the planning committee and the public. The first presentation is a public meeting, followed by a presentation associated with a comprehensive report.
Based on the outcome of the review, a new process was rolled out on December 14, 2017 which introduced an opportunity for the public to provide oral comments on Planning Act applications at the time comprehensive reports were presented before the planning committee. Prior to this change, members of the public were provided an opportunity to provide oral comments at public meetings only. Only committee members could ask questions of staff at the time comprehensive reports were presented.
The typical planning process followed for a site specific application for a zoning bylaw amendment is illustrated below. Due to the complexity and nature of some applications, the order and number of steps may vary:
Typical planning process
Offer your input: proposed open house approach
In order to further enhance public participation in the planning process and to better integrate it with the City's Public Engagement Framework, staff are considering adding an open house event to the public consultation process for complex Planning Act applications. At the Sep. 20, 2018 planning committee meeting, staff presented a draft approach related to open houses. This approach is intended to complement and enhance the level of public participation in the planning process. To learn more, view the staff report and presentation.
Staff will consider all input received and prepare a recommendation report to implement improvements to public participation in the planning approvals process.