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Opinion: Less Is More When it Comes to Politics in Planning

A proposal from the provincial government of Ontario would revive an appeals process for planning and development processes in Toronto. An elected official and former planner writes to oppose the idea.
May 13, 2019, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Brad Bradford, current Toronto city councilor and former urban planner, pens an opinion piece for Spacing Toronto that calls for a less political planning process.

"We all know planning in Toronto can be improved," writes Bradford. "Having worked in the City Planning department, I also know the path to better planning is through better politics." 

Bradford admits a pro-development agenda in making this appeal, while pointing to specific policies in the city that prevent desired planning outcomes.

Outdated systems like Toronto’s site-by-site community benefits for density bonuses (Section 37 benefits) and certain politicians riding NIMBY sentiment into office have left us stuck with out-of-date zoning, and a strong aversion to change.

Zoning isn’t glamorous but bad rules have left Toronto with too few shelter locations, a misallocated housing stock with around 2 million unused bedrooms, and an oversupply of low density buildings surrounding our major transit corridors.

The op-ed includes a detailed list of prescriptions for change, but one big idea looms over the entire discussion: a proposal by Ontario Premier Doug Ford to revive the Ontario Municipal Board with a new name, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. News coverage by Jennifer Pagliaro provides details of that proposal, and reports on the initial political response to the idea.

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Published on Thursday, May 9, 2019 in Spacing Toronto
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