It appears the cold weather is behind us and spring is finally on the horizon in Toronto. Spring also marks the beginning of construction season in Toronto, and I’m writing today with an update on new policies to protect our neighbourhoods.
Over the years, I’ve received countless emails from Don Valley West residents concerned about disruptive residential construction sites in their neighbourhoods. In my first term, I moved a series of motions directing Toronto Building to improve the City’s response to problematic sites and ensure that buildings are constructed according to approved plans and permissions.
Thanks to the invaluable input from Ward 15 residents, I was able to spearhead the development of a comprehensive, interdivisional Residential Infill Construction Strategy. The Strategy focuses on three major areas: streamlining the City’s complaint management process, encouraging good construction practices, and improving communication with residents. Several aspects of this strategy have already been implemented, including:
Additional building inspections – in 2017, Toronto Building implemented a required introductory inspection to set out expectations and consequences at the outset of the construction process.
• Interdivisional working groups – established to create a complaint tracking policy and procedure to enable the City to respond more quickly and effectively to resident complaints.
• As-built survey – builders are required to submit an as-built survey completed by a certified Ontario Land Surveyor prior to the construction of the first-floor walls to confirm the location and height of the building.
• Training for inspectors – Building inspectors are now being trained to recognize zoning issues to ensure that buildings comply with approved plans and permits.
An update on the new Residential Infill Construction Strategy was recently adopted by City Council. This update specifically includes policies to:
• Require builders to provide a public notice sign on site, including contact and building permit information. The purpose is to provide the public with a gateway to real-time information about permissions and enforcements.
• Continue and expand the Dedicated Enforcement Unit, an inter-divisional group that surveys properties across the City and identifies all outstanding issues. In the 2017 summer pilot program, 117 of the 139 sites that required follow-up achieved compliance within two weeks.
• Empower Toronto Building inspectors to levy fines for construction fencing infractions. Currently, only Transportation Services or Municipal Licensing & Standards is able to enforce fencing bylaws. This amendment will make the inspection process more efficient, as only the building inspector will need to visit the site.
The Residential Infill Construction Strategy initiated the production of several new online and printed resources for Torontonians, including a dedicated website. The Good Neighbour Guide and Homeowner’s Guide to Building Permits, available on the City’s website, are fantastic resources for residents looking to learn more about residential construction in their neighbourhoods.
After almost five years, I am pleased to see the regulations inspired by my original motion finally being implemented. These initiatives will improve transparency and accessibility for Leaside residents throughout the residential infill construction process.