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Toronto seeks input on how best to keep residents informed and involved in development process

The City of Toronto is holding a series of consultation meetings in order to explore different ways in which to improve the review process of various development applications.

This comes at the request of Toronto Council’s Planning and Housing Committee which deemed it necessary to consult with residents about their experiences at consultation meetings.

“What we’re trying to do is look at changing the process for holding those community meetings,” said City Planning’s Kathryn Moore. “So these are consultations on changing consultation.”

The City of Toronto’s research includes specifics such as preferences in receiving notifications about developments; changes people might want to see on the city’s development application website; and even how they feel about the development application notice signs.

At the first meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 5, community members also discussed their preferences between in-person meetings and virtual consultations which become more common as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to Moore, officials found residents split between both options.

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Many participants at the March 5 meeting said they liked the idea of meeting city staff and having a face-to-face experience at in-person consultations.

“Specifically, people like the open house format instead of just the Q&A – sitting in a crowd and waiting your turn,” said Moore.

Others expressed a preference for online discussions due to the flexibility and time saving attributes it possesses.

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“Sometimes travelling to (in-person consultations) is challenging,” said Moore. “And those spaces are getting more contentious.”

As Torontonians grow more infuriated about an increased cost of living post-pandemic, Moore said she believes that some residents have been showing their frustrations during public consultation meetings and becoming “more adversarial” as there is “more pent up frustration”.

With public meetings becoming increasingly hostile, the City of Toronto is now attempting to come up with ways to alter the process for a better experience.

On Jan. 29, the Planning and Housing Committee directed staff to report back with recommendations by July.

City Planning will host three more in-person open houses and three virtual webinars on the topic before the report is submitted.

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The next meeting is set to take place at Metro Hall (55 John St., Rooms 308-309) on Tuesday, Mar. 12, from 6 to 8 p.m.

On Wednesday, Mar. 20, there will be another meeting at Etobicoke Civic Centre (399 The West Mall, Meeting Rooms 1, 2 & 3) from 6 to 8 p.m.

The final in-person consultation will be at the Scarborough Civic Centre (150 Borough Dr., Ground Floor, Central Rotunda) on Tuesday, Mar. 26, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The city-wide virtual meetings are scheduled for Thursday, Mar. 21, and Tuesday, Apr. 9, from noon to 1 p.m. with the final meeting on Wednesday, Apr. 10, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Anyone interested in participating in the virtual meetings must register here.

&© 2024 The Canadian Press

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