Urban Defender

Urban Defender: Town Hall sessions to hear ideas for strengthening community engagement and participation Toronto and East York District

Friday, June 03, 2005

Town Hall sessions to hear ideas for strengthening community engagement and participation Toronto and East York District

Well we hate tall buildings. We hate "let's make a deal planning!" What the hell do we like? Nothing that changes.

Seriously UD salutes Toronto City Council for launching a community consultation on the planning process after all citizen engagement is critical to address Toronto's urban re/development.

But just a friendly note: Public meetings held on Friday evenings, particularly in the late Spring or Summer are counterintuitive to say the least. So while it is encouraging that the City is taking steps to address this, the timing of the Toronto and East York District session appears to contradict the very purpose for which one supposes it was intended: maximizing citizen involvement.

And the Citizen’s gathered where by and large white, middle or upper middle class and middle aged. Now of course democracy is about who shows up but the slapdash nature of the way the Town Hall Sessions have been organized and the timing (two held on Friday nights) caters to participation by the 1% of the 1%.

Being charitable it is a start.

But the fact that the "big move" is a propsoed voluntary pre-application review and consultation process is albeit a positive but limited gesture. Moreover it will only apply to Official Plan amendments and re-zonnings, what goes to the City's Committee of Adjustment (which can include applciations to signifcantly increase a proposed building's density or height) will be left out. Of course we do not have a current one for the post amalgamation City, as it is currently being appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board and therefore is in abeyance.

We need time to process this and comment more, soon. However, what is really needed is a dialogue with all the players at the table: resident group representatives, interested citizens, architects and independent planners, developers, and NGO and community agency representatives. We do not really move forward if gung ho developers talk among themselves (in different forums) or if NIMBY ratepayers talk among themselves (sadly too true of the Town Hall meetings), and if many other voices and interests are left out altogether.

For more information go to http://www.toronto.ca/planning/process.htm


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