For Lack of Density: Ontario Rejects Toronto's Downtown Plan

Local control loses ground to provincial preemption north of the border.

2 minute read

June 6, 2019, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Toronto Skyline B&W

Madeline / Toronto skyline

"The Ford government has rejected the City of Toronto’s plans for the areas of Yonge and Eglinton and the downtown core, with the municipal affairs minister saying the plan needs to allow for denser housing near transit hubs," reports Chris Herhalt.

Toronto approved two amendments to its official plan for the downtown core and the Yonge and Ellington area in July 2018, with Official Plan Amendments 405 and 406, but Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark says the changes do not reflect the priorities of the provincial government, and returned the amendments with modifications.

Herhalt describes the differences of opinion between the two versions of the plan amendments:

In the city’s original plan amendment for Yonge and Eglinton, buildings constructed immediately adjacent to Eglinton Station were restricted to a height of 58 storeys on the northeast corner, 65 floors on the southeast corner and 27 to 37 floors on the northwest corner, with generally lower height restrictions on areas flowing out in each direction from the intersection.

The Ford government’s changes would allow tower of up to 35 floors to be built farther afield from the intersection.

A lot of Herhalt's coverage of the developing story is focused on the reaction of Toronto Mayor John Tory to the news. "He said he’s 'mystified' as to why he was not told ahead of time and still is not sure what exactly the province disliked about the city’s plans," according to Herhalt.

While the Doug Ford Administration is pushing Toronto to increase density in the interior of the city, Premier Ford is also on the record calling for the city to expand its greenbelt, thus allowing more sprawling development on the city's periphery. The downtown core and Yonge and Eglinton plan amendments are also only the latest in a series of political battles pitting city against province. Differences on inclusionary zoning and a provincial takeover of the city's subway system have also made waves since Doug Ford took office.

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