Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Toronto Industry Network (TIN) is an organization of large manufacturers and industrial associations located in Toronto that employs directly about 30,000 people, many of who live in our community.

TIN supports the concept of harmonizing the City’s 43 zoning by-laws. A uniform set of standards across the City is certainly preferable to what is currently in place. Our review of the by-law and its implications is a mammoth task and is very much a work in progress. We recognize the planning staff has a huge job to do and TIN really appreciated the opportunity to consult recently with the planners.

The City is putting much effort into promoting Toronto as a place globally to do business. The Agenda for Prosperity sets out a blueprint to grow Toronto’s presence. It recognizes the importance of manufacturing which is 12% or 124,000 jobs as part of Toronto’s economy, and calls for actions ‘to anchor and expand strategic industry sectors through increased competition and collaboration”.

Since the zoning by-law uses the Official plan as its foundation, it is worth reading parts of the text in the Official plan that relate to Employment Areas (p. 73):

“Toronto’s Employment Areas are hothouses where we grow our enterprises and jobs.

Businesses increasingly require flexibility in order to compete effectively in a global economy. This need for flexibility extends to a firm's lands and buildings, and to what is available to support business activity in the immediate area. A broad and inclusive approach to employment uses in Employment Areas is needed for the City’s economic future…Uses that detract from the economic function of these lands will not be permitted to locate in Employment Lands.”

TIN submits that the spirit and intent of both the Agenda for Prosperity and the Official Plan regarding industry would be frustrated by the proposed Zoning By-law for the following reasons:

  1. As stated in the Official plan, manufacturers need the flexibility to take advantage quickly of new product mandates, more efficient technologies and modernization measures to compete in a global market. Since many companies will find their zoning designation will be ‘legal non-conforming’ because the zoning definitions have changed under the new regime, they will be forced to apply for facility expansions and other changes under the Committee of Adjustment and/or Ontario Municipal Board processes. This will create uncertainty and add hugely to the already complex permitting process the City has in place. The City has unintentionally restricted “permitted uses”. It should be noted that the loss of property rights stemming from the by-law will mean a corresponding loss of property value for many companies. We have not addressed the challenge of attracting new manufacturers to Toronto under these new rules.
  2. The Chemical Distances Separation standards (Clause 150.200.20) proposed in the By-law will ensure that large numbers of businesses operating lawfully now would become legal non-conforming and will not have the flexibility and freedom to grow their operations. Many chemicals have very large separation distances. For example, some factories have two or more acetylene bottles on hand for small welding jobs. This requires a minimum separation distance of 100 metres. It is interesting to note that a vehicle filling station handling up to 10,000 litres of propane only requires a separation distance from residences of 7.5 metres. A similar fill tank on an industrial property requires a separation distance of 1.5 kilometres. It is notable there is no reciprocal lot separation requirement for sensitive uses in residential areas. They require only 30 and 60 metres. Furthermore, many chemicals listed in the draft by-law are used not only by industry but also by commercial establishments and City facilities.
  3. If Employment Areas are supposed to be ‘hothouses’ for economic growth, then the rules governing activity there have to provide certainty and flexibility to industry to take advantage of opportunities to grow and expand. It is reasonable that manufacturers should expect that they can continue to use their properties as they do today. Job creation should be a priority of the City that is facing an unemployment rate of more than 10%.


  1. There is no understanding of the impacts this by-law will have on industry. The question must be asked regarding how many manufacturers will find their facilities will be legal non-conforming due to the change in zoning definitions? The Chief Planner in consultation with the General Manager of Economic Development should be asked to report back to this Committee on the compliance rate for industry under the new definitions in the proposed by-law and the economic impact the by-law will have on business in Toronto.
  2. TIN continues to support the concept of reciprocal buffering between industry and sensitive uses. However, the proposed chemical distance separation criteria which are meant for the transport of chemicals, will ensure that a majority of manufacturers will not comply with this major policy embedded in the new by-law. TIN recommends that planning and economic development staff report on the impact this policy will have on the manufacturing base. Further, we recommend that this policy initiative, that has nothing to do with harmonization, be separated out.

TIN does not believe it is the intention of the City to drive manufacturing out of Toronto into other jurisdictions, but this will indeed be the outcome over time of the proposed zoning by-law as companies realize they must go through an uncertain appeal process to undertake normal industrial activities. We want a by-law that will help strengthen manufacturing and provide new economic opportunities to our City.