You’ve got neighbourhood problems, and ideas for how to address it. You want to see some healthy food infrastructure in your neighbourhood through its new developments.

What do you do?

  • Contact your local city councillor! (Who is my councillor?) This is especially important during the development review process because Community Council and City Council make the final decisions on development applications, and they usually follow the lead of the local councillor.

  • City Councillors are eager to secure some sort of community benefit as part of any development application that occurs in their ward. This can be done through a financial contribution through Section 37 of the Planning Act or something that is a part of the development, such as community space, publicly accessible open space or food infrastructure (urban agriculture in parks, community/commercial kitchens in community recreation centres, community food hubs).

  • Section 37 of the Planning Act allows municipalities, through a rezoning application, to grant increases in height and density beyond what is permitted in the Zoning by-law, in return for community benefits. The City Planner and the local councillor decide if Section 37 benefits should be required as part of an approval. If Section 37 benefits are deemed appropriate, the planner, councillor and applicant negotiate together on the required amount and what it will go to.

Examples of what Section 37 monies have been spent on include improvements to public parks and playgrounds, streetscaping, public art and contributions to larger projects such as swimming pools and community centres. For more information on Section 37, click here.

Remember:

  • A Community Consultation Meeting is required for all Zoning Amendment (rezoning) applications and Official Plan Amendment applications. This is a key part of the development approval process to voice one’s opinion on a proposal to the planner, developer and the ward Councillor.

  • Community members should also get involved with any planning studies happening in their neighbourhood. These studies are designed to create a vision for the neighbourhood, which new development should ideally conform to. This is an excellent way to get out ahead of development and collaborate on proactive planning instead of always reacting to to specific development applications.

  • Another excellent way to get involved with City Planning in Toronto, especially ‘big picture’ planning, is through the Five Year Official Plan Review and Municipal Comprehensive Review. This is the time when changes can be made to the Official Plan policies and land designations. To find out more about this process and how you can get involved, click here.

Steps to get involved:
  • Talk to neighbours and fellow community builders about what food infrastructure is needed in your neighbourhood. Look at and share examples of what’s been done elsewhere. Connect with Food Forward and local agencies. Ask them to help you with a food mapping exercise with neighbours. How could your foodscape be improved? Where are the opportunities?

  • Is there a new development that could host what is needed? Or could a developer support a food project at a nearby community centre or park with a financial contribution?

  • Look around your neighbourhood. Are there development applications? Look for the large white City signs outside buildings.

  • You can also find out about development happening in your ward online (search here) – read about the proposals, find out the stage of the approvals and if there is a public meeting coming up. Contact the listed planner with your ideas.

  • Ask if your Councillor is negotiating with applicants on Section 37 benefits as part of a proposal. If so, let your Councillor know what projects and improvements are priorities in your neighbourhoods. Ask if there is retail space being planned as part of the development. Ask what options are available and share ideas (affordable grocer, commercial kitchen, produce/cultural food market).

  • Provide input to your councillor by email/phone, or ask to set up a meeting.

  • Find out if there is a planning studies in your neighbourhood (search here). Read the documents, attend meetings, contact your planner or councillor with ideas.