Queen’s Park Report – Year End 2020

Towards a better 2021?

The cap is on 2020 – we wish you all the best for 2021! 

The Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods had a busy year with many letters sent to the Province, virtual meetings and responses to consultations on issues. We have also updated and improved our website so that it is a vital resource for resident associations in urban areas across the province.   

We all know that 2020 did not work out the way anybody expected. We have been forced to adjust and to do many things differently, as well as trying to make it all work better. Our municipal leaders have for the most part been listening and responsive. 

The Province not so much. They have continued to make changes “under cover of COVID” that “benefit speculators, not people.” 

In “FUN 2020/2021 Issues,” below, we pull together materials, some reflective, to stimulate our thinking about what the pandemic means for life in urban communities and to remind us to stay awake on issues that we need to keep in mind in 2021. It includes:

  • How the Coronavirus Recovery Is Changing Cities
  • How continued Provincial actions are taking away our municipalities’ ability to make decisions about our future

In the new year, some of the issues that FUN will be participating in are:

  • Monitoring how the changes in provincial legislation, such as the Planning Act and the Heritage Act, are affecting municipal ability to successfully plan for the range of land use responsibilities
  • The use of Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) including new proposed changes to give the Minister authority to take over the Site Plan control process – comments can be submitted up to Jan 30 2021
  • Dealing with on-going Environmental issues such as Bill 229 Schedule 6 affecting the conservation authorities’ responsibilities and powers
  • Transportation issues such as the proposed Highway 413 
  • Lessons learned from municipal programs designed to make life better for residents and businesses during COBVID, such as allowing patios, quiet streets and adding more bike lanes
  • Advocating for the return of municipalities’ rights to consider ranked ballot voting
  • Encouraging the Province to implement improvements in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act
  • Advocating for Taxation of Vacant Homes legislation in major urban centres
  • Finding new ways to pay for growth to ensure there are adequate services and public realm available
  • Addressing noise and pollution by encouraging banning leaf blowers and loud muffler noise
  • Reviewing 2021 Budgets

FUN will continue to work on meeting the needs of our members. We need your assistance in making FUN work better for you – in our operations as well as in developing ways to resolve planning and related issues. Can you/your organization help us with these initiatives?

All the best for 2021! We look forward to continuing to work with you/your organization in making our urban centres better places for all.

FUN 2020/2021 Issues

How the Coronavirus Recovery Is Changing Cities (Bloomberg) – As cities emerge from coronavirus lockdowns, the way people use parks, stores, restaurants, transit, streets and homes is changing in ways both subtle and dramatic.

Provincial Actions 
Changes have been made by the Provincial government, negatively impacting municipalities, the Greenbelt, and the environment. 

The Provincial Government passed legislation to reduce the time allowed for a municipality to review planning applications and heritage preservation.

Over 30 Ministers Zoning Orders (MZOs) have been issued, riding roughshod over local interests. 

On Dec 16 2020 the Provincial Government proposed changes to the Planning Act now in force under Bill 197 (The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act) to enable the Minister to have Site Plan Control and to apply inclusionary zoning as part of a zoning order. Comments can be submitted up to Jan 30 2021 – we will publish further information on this proposal.  

Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities are engaged in projects within their areas to ensure the conservation, restoration and responsible management of Ontario’s water, land and natural habitats through programs that balance human, environmental and economic needs. Recently the Provincial government passed Bill 229 Schedule 6 reducing Conservation Authority power to protect the ravines and wetlands in their jurisdiction. The Bill allows developers to apply to the Premier for an overriding Minister’s Zoning Order if the Conservation Authority refuses to grant permission to encroach onto environmentally sensitive lands.  

The government is proceeding quickly with a new orbital 400 series highway (GTA West or Highway 413) cutting into the Greenbelt, while allowing trucks to continue to avoid the high user charges on Highway 407 by taking the overcrowded Highway 401.  In 2020 a Bill was passed withdrawing the municipal ability to hold elections using ranked ballots. Municipalities are submitting their objections! This issue will be pursued in 2021.

Municipal Conflict of Interest Act improvements
FUN will continue to encourage municipalities to ask the Provincial government to implement improvements in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act in order to avoid the pitfalls of past conflict situations.

Taxation of Vacant Homes Legislation
FUN will encourage other urban municipalities facing affordability issues to consider a Vacant Home Tax – the proposed design based on the Vancouver model and implementation in 2022 but with a more meaningful starting rate of 3%

Charges to pay for Growth 
Watch for a report likely to be brought forward for your Council’s consideration on changes to charges to pay for growth (i.e. Parkland bylaw, the new Community Benefits Charge bylaw, and Development Charges) in order to the meet the Provincial statutory transition deadline of September 2022.

2-stroke Garden Equipment 
In 2021, Toronto City Council will vote on a motion to ban 2-stroke leaf-blowers and similar garden equipment.  The pollution emitted from 1 leaf-blower is equal to that of 500 cars!  Visit our website for information on this issue. The next step will be to ask other municipalities to pass similar legislation

2021 Budget 
The 2021 Budgets are expected to be tough and with only a short time period for input.  Watch to make sure that resident priorities such as preservation of city services are upheld. 

Geoff Kettel, President

Geoff Kettel

Geoff Kettel

Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”, active in land use planning, heritage preservation, active transportation, and community development. Geoff had a 33 year career in the Ontario public service serving in various ministries. Prior to that time he was a Land Use Planner in private practice.