In late 2009, Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall appeared before the City of Toronto’s Planning and Growth Management Committee to share the OHRC’s comments on the city’s proposed new zoning by-law. This by-law is important because it is the first harmonized zoning by-law since the City of Toronto was amalgamated, and has the potential to either create housing or barriers for many vulnerable people across Toronto.
We are concerned that the proposed by-law will not allow certain types of housing in all residential neighbourhoods. Barriers still seem to exist for crisis care shelters and residential care homes. Any decisions to exclude these uses need to be based on sound urban planning rationale, and not on negative assumptions about the people who might live there.
Another concern was that buildings must be five years old before they can be used as seniors' community homes, which means that new seniors' community homes cannot be built.
We also encouraged the city to take another look at minimum separation distances. When planning for inclusive neighbourhoods, these requirements limit the sites available for development, and force housing providers to turn away otherwise ideal housing opportunities – to the detriment of many people who are in desperate need of housing.
The OHRC will review updated versions of the by-law as they are released.