Downsview continues to be a place where people want to live work and play.
We have great access to transit, a great quality of life, tight-knit communities, and wonderful spaces for families to grow.
It is no wonder Toronto Life rated Downsview in the top 20% of best places to live in Toronto.
More than ever people are flocking to Downsview. This means there is pressure to change, and revitalize old properties into more livable spaces.
While change is inevitable, the community is vital to guiding that change, which is why I look to our community to help whenever change is proposed.
How it Works
Each time a new development proposal is put forward called an “application” it is sent to the City. I am informed if there is a zoning change necessary. I typically form a panel of community members consisting of people who would be directly affected by the change.
These proposals aren’t final, they are simply the first stage of an “ask” of the City. If that ask requires an zoning amendment/redesignation it usually results in a public meeting called a “statutory public meeting” held by the City as is required by law.
It is at these statutory public meetings that I ask interested members of the community to form the panel which will guide the process.
Together, we work through the application with City planning staff to determine what is best for the community.
If all goes correctly, the community and the applicant are satisfied that the change meets community needs, as well as the needs of the property owner.
When it Doesn’t Work
Sometimes the developer or “applicant” does not assist or cooperate in this process. This can result in an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) challenge. The Ontario Municipal Board is an agency of the Provincial Government. It is like a court where unsatisfied or frustrated applicants who don’t like the decision made on their application at the City level can ask to have them reviewed (and possibly overturned).
When an applicant is successful at the OMB, a municipal By-law is automatically written allowing the development. This removing any ability for the local community or the elected representative from providing input on the change. It gets no further input from those affected.
Many have criticized the OMB for making bad decisions that hurt communities. This is why I have been part of an effort to remove Toronto from the OMB’s jurisdiction. I believe we have expert staff and leadership necessary to properly guide community changes. We do not need a Provincial agency deciding whether to overrule local decisions. The OMB challenge constantly hangs over the head of communities who simply wish the best for their neighbourhoods and is sometimes used punitively by the applicant against a community who is simply trying to get the best outcome for all.