Toronto councillors create "red light, green light" system to evaluate development proposals

Plan was announced in the wake of major changes to the TOcore development plan

Toronto councillors create "red light, green light" system to evaluate development proposals
Duffie Osental

In response to the Ontario government making hundreds of changes to Toronto’s downtown development plan, a trio of city councillors want to create a system that will “slow down” what they consider to be bad development.

The TOcore plan provides the framework that will shape development in downtown Toronto over the next 25 years. However, according to CP24 News, the province made 224 changes to the document, eliminating or reducing requirements for no-residential uses in some areas and softening the language on the provision of childcare and community facilities as a condition of development.

In response, city councillors Mike Layton, Joe Cressy, and Kristyn Wong-Tam said that they are creating “red-light, green-light” system that will evaluate development proposals in their wards. The system will allow downtown councillors to stop proposals flagged with a red light while ensuring that proposals with a green light are prioritized.

“Without any warning, without any notice and in a unilateral manner, the province ripped up TOcore,” Cressy told CP24 News. “What they did was reestablish the Wild West for developers downtown and that has put at risk the long-term livability and prosperity of not only downtown but our province as a whole. We will stand up and fight for good development and we will stand up and fight to slow down and hinder bad development.”

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However, Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark told CP24 News that the changes were made with an eye on increasing the city’s housing supply, particularly in areas around major transit hubs.

“City council needs to get on board and encourage development to take place near major transit areas and plan for a mix of housing options,” said Clark. “The threat made by Toronto council members today – to abdicate their responsibilities and prevent new homes from being built - is unacceptable to the hardworking taxpayers in Toronto, whose dream of living in the city will be obstructed by a game of red light-green light.”

Meanwhile, Dave Wilkes, president and chief executive officer of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), characterized the trio’s efforts as “anti-housing.”

“This blatant disregard of provincial policy is the opposite of a housing strategy, in fact, it’s an anti-housing strategy,” said Wilkes.  “The net impact will add cost to the city, add cost to new home purchasers, increase the delays of much needed livable housing close to transit and lengthen approvals times as challenges and appeals are undertaken to ensure that the law is respected.”

“More housing is desperately needed to accommodate growth in the region. It makes sense for this type of housing to be built in places that can leverage existing investments in infrastructure and be transit-supportive. We are calling on Toronto City Council to take the necessary steps to address housing supply and affordability in Toronto.”