Changes to the Planning Act – What you need to know

August 01, 2017 | Posted by OPPI | Post Contributed by Monika Rau | 0 comments
Communities in urban and rural areas are growing rapidly in Ontario. Our communities are being shaped by policy decisions in response to growth, which ultimately directs development. This is why the Smart Growth for our Communities Act was enacted, receiving Royal Assent on December 3, 2015. The Act helps to shape our communities through a set of predetermined measures, including:
  • To help municipalities fund growth
  • Give residents a greater, more meaningful say in how their communities grow
  • Protect and promote greenspaces
  • Make the development charges system more predictable, transparent and accountable
  • Make the planning and appeals process more predictable
  • Give municipalities more independence and make it easier to resolve disputes
Spring 2011. I began volunteering with my community Farmers' Market in Leslieville, Toronto. This community event happens every Sunday from May to October in the Johnathan Ashbridges parkette. The Market provides a weekly hub for food, arts, culture and education. Each week there is music, a children’s program, and local merchants and farmers sell quality goods and services. The Market was created by three community members and has developed significantly over time. Each Sunday, the Market attracts roughly 2000-2500 people. This was not always the case, and that growth had Market Director Daniel Taylor and I, questioning the effects; The popularity consuming the Market begged the question: Is this Farmers' Market making a difference in the community?
As Toronto's core continues to grow vertically, parks are taking on new roles in the City's landscape. Downtown parks are being reinvented as backyards, front porches and even as public living rooms for new populations in the downtown core. In particular, growing numbers of seniors and families with young children rely on public parks for a good quality of life. But these same parks are also having to address another energetic, rapidly growing and noisy population: dogs.
Most North American cities continue to apply zoning by-laws with parking minimums whose logic and purpose is rooted in the fundamentally different planning, economic, demographic and environmental context of the mid-twentieth century. And yet they persist, even as they routinely and systematically produce urban landscapes ranging from the kind of disappointing to the utterly dystopian.
As municipalities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe continue to grow in population and density, new strategies for creating parks and public spaces in more urban environments are needed. How do we engage communities and program parks when there are so many different users? How do we plan a public space system that is connected and accessible? How do we design public spaces in a flexible way to respond to their urban context?

Pokémon GO - a phenomenon that swept the world this past summer! Cities around the globe experienced an influx of citizens into their public spaces as everyone tried to 'catch-em-all.' Crazed Pokémon trainers wandered the city swiping their phones and battling to win gyms, ultimately searching for the coveted Pikachu.

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