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“Are you engaged in city building?” 3 EASY STEPS

As residents of Toronto it is critical that we engage in city building at the grassroots level. Everyone (property owner or renter) should know who their city councillor is, member of Provincial Parliament and Federal Member of Parliament. It is our responsibility to know what is happening in our communities and express our ideas, support or concerns over the initiatives that our elected officials are deciding on our behalf. The City of Toronto is making it very easy to get involved with surveys and online conversations. We are the eyes and ears of our communities and this needs to be shared on a regular basis to keep policy and change relevant. If you do not know who represents you I have provided websites to look them up. THIS IS A FIRST STEP!

 www.toronto.ca

www.ontla.on.ca/lao/en/members

www.parl.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members

The City of Toronto has an Official Plan and Municipal Comprehensive Reviews. It is a portal for getting involved and sharing your thoughts on planning in Toronto.  The Official Plan is the vision for how Toronto will grow to the year 2031. It includes the following areas:

  1. Heritage Policies
  2. Economic Health & Employment Lands (land use and employment)
  3. Transportation Policies (transit, pedestrian and cycling policies)
  4. Healthy Neighborhoods, Neighborhoods, Apartment Neighborhoods (Protect and enhance existing neighborhoods, allow limited infill)
  5. Environment Policies and Environmentally Significant Areas (Climate Change and Energy, Green Infrastructure, Environmentally Significant Areas)
  6. Greenbelt Conformity (bringing the Official Plan into conformity with the Provincial Greenbelt Plan and other related environmental planning initiatives)
  7. Urban Design Policies (Planning and Growth Management)
  8. Housing Policies (Identify and create new affordable housing)

 

As residents of Toronto we are all obsessed with real estate and are having conversations at many levels:

 As a realtor, homeowner, investor and parent I look at our city and get excited looking to the future and seeing a lot of opportunity. A key concept of feeling comfortable with our growth is understanding the meaning of ‘intensification’. What does intensification mean and what does it look like for our city in the future? This is a city building area that most residents can get directly involved in at a grassroots level.  Lets get obsessed with our communities! THIS IS THE SECOND STEP!

 “Intensification means the development of a property, site or area at a higher density that currently exists, through development, redevelopment, infill and expansion or conversion of existing buildings Each community’s form and level of intensification will differ, based on their specific characteristics such as location, history, community strengths and preferences.”

Over the next 50 years The City of Toronto will double in population from 2.9 million to almost 5 million and density will rise from 4,000 per square kilometer today to more than 7,700 in 2066. The condo cranes will be constant on the skyline and start to move outward from the core to the suburbs as land is filled up. The proportion of residents born outside of Canada will rise from one-third to nearly half.

The City of Toronto has done extensive Avenue Studies to identify areas for ‘gentle’ density that include mid-rises or townhouses in existing neighborhoods. Apartment neighborhoods are being revitalized as mixed-use, community-oriented districts adding retail and public spaces with new towers inserted amongst the existing towers.  Given the cost of housing the opportunities to add purpose built secondary units in homes add rental housing and assist homeowners in the cost of owning a home. Conversions of large homes into multi-unit coops or condominiums are now becoming attractive as baby boomers downsize but want to stay in their communities. Laneway housing is presently on everyone’s radar. In some neighborhoods it seems feasible but is contentious on many levels. What do you do if your neighbor wants to add a laneway house? THIS IS THE THIRD STEP!  Using the websites I have provided start connecting and asking questions!

As a responsible professional I make it my business to know what is going on in our city and in communities that my clients live and work in. As a resident I also make it my business to know what is going on in my community and be prepared for things that might affect my quality of life. Being aware and connected to our communities allows us to get involved, accept change with more ease and affect change.