Municipal/Planning Law

Lessons learned from a 10 year long city planning fight

July 12th, 2017 by Iler Campbell

Charlie Campbell, one of our founding partners,  has just published his history of the planning fight over the development of Toronto’s West Queen West Triangle lands from 2005 to 2016. These are the lands south of Queen St from Dovercourt to Gladstone, bordered on the south by the rail line, that have seen massive transformation into a veritable ‘condo forest’ in recent years.

But it’s a lot more than a history – it  includes a host of his trenchant observations and conclusions on what’s good and what’s bad with the planning process for new developments in Toronto. It’s also a valuable guide for how other communities facing development pressure can influence the process, which often feels rigged in favour  of developers.

Charlie is a key volunteer member of Active 18, the community group that took the lead in advocating for good design, parks, arts and artists’ workspace, heritage preservation and other community focused goals in the new developments in the West Queen West Triangle. It makes for fascinating reading from anyone interested in planning issues and the intricacies of dealing with developers, city hall, the OMB and various other interested parties. It’s also not without some of Charlie’s infamous absurdist humor. Look for the almost entirely redacted section in the middle of the “WQW at the OMB” chapter that insinuates that Putin was somehow involved in the ordeal. Charlie’s hope is that community groups dealing with similar issues will find it useful.

Read the history here.

Shark Fin Ban Case: Does Biodiversity Have Anything to Do With Social and Civic “Well-Being”?

April 2nd, 2013 by Laura Bowman

In November 2012 the Ontario Superior Court of Justice held that Toronto’s shark fin by-law was ultra vires.

Eng v. Toronto (City) was an application seeking a declaration that By-law No. 12347-2011 of the City of Toronto (Shark fin by-law) was ultra vires and of no force and effect. The by-law provides, in section 3, that “no person shall possess, sell or consume shark fin or shark fin food products within the city of Toronto”. The by-law was passed by a vote of 38-4 at council. The applicants argued that the shark fin by-law’s purpose was directed against the extinction of sharks and lacked a proper municipal purpose. The court agreed that this environmental threat was a purpose of the ban on shark fin food products as it was “a theme that persists in the public record of the proposed ban” and “environmental well-being of the City” was mentioned the preamble.

The applicants submitted that the City was the “wrong level of government” for the by-law and that there was no identifiable environmental benefit to the city. The court rejected the first argument and accepted the second.

Read more in the Ontario Bar Association’s Envronews (pdf) »

A victory for better planning advocates — and without breaking the bank

March 5th, 2013 by Paula Boutis

In November 2011, we posted a blog about cost effective strategies to promote better planning and development in your neighbourhood.  As part of that post, we encouraged community groups who have appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to seriously consider settlement as a way to achieve goals and avoid a costly hearing.

Recently, I became aware of a decision where a community group, Centretown Citizens in Ottawa, did just that, and is happy to brag about it.  You can find their story here.  Centretown notes, quite rightly, that not only is it costly for the citizens groups to proceed with an OMB hearing, but a massive drain on the municipality’s coffers — public money — too.

Congratulations to the Centretown Citizens on finding a satisfactory resolution, and saving the taxpayers of Ottawa and other engaged citizens valuable resources.

How conflict of interest rules affect the public interest

December 20th, 2012 by Laura Bowman

Since the RedfordKatz, Ford and other scandals of late, there has been much discussion about conflict of interest rules, what is and isn’t a conflict of interest, and whether there can be degrees of conflicts of interest. What should the legislative penalties be where a conflict is found?

Conflict of interest can be a difficult subject. Various provincial and federal statutes govern conflicts of interest. Roughly speaking, a conflict of interest for a public office holder is usually defined as the exercise of an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further private interests.



Mega Quarry win shows it’s time for major agricultural policy reform in Ontario

November 27th, 2012 by Laura Bowman

Last week Highland Companies announced plans to withdraw its application to build a quarry in Melancthon Ontario.  The “Mega Quarry” has been a rallying cry for local food and agriculture reform, as well as aggregates reform in Ontario.

Now is not a time for farmers, environmentalists and foodies to rest on their laurels.  Ontario’s agricultural policy needs big-time reform.  For far too long Ontario has badly neglected the agricultural sector on all fronts, financial, marketing, trade policy, land use protection, water policies, and from a food security perspective.  The Mega Quarry dispute highlighted many of these problems.

Continue reading “Mega Quarry win shows it’s time for major agricultural policy reform in Ontario”

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Draft Policies and the Review Cycle for the Provincial Policy Statement

November 27th, 2012 by Paula Boutis

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has embarked on its five year review of the Provincial Policy Statement, a document which underpins land use planning decisions in the province of Ontario.

The Canadian Environmental Law Association and EcoJustice have submitted their comments to the proposed revisions.

You can find a copy of their full submissions here (pdf).