City Of Toronto Section 37 Agreement

- September 14, 2021

The weakest point in the case of Article 37 as a planning instrument is affordable housing, one of the city`s most pressing problems. As luxury condominiums grow downtown, people in Toronto are being pushed to the inner suburbs. The fact is that Section 37 should not serve as a consolidated revenue source for the city. For this, we have other sources of funding, such as property taxes. Especially for the construction of new buildings, the city has collected development fees for new construction projects specifically intended to generate revenue, and these could be slightly increased if the Council wants more money for general use. Section 37 agreements are intended to compensate for changes in a given neighbourhood, which will bring about the specific development that occurs there. Pooling these revenues for use in other parts of the city would involve a likely flawed process and completely unleash it from its underlying logic. The “injustice” of section 37 is a function of how the law is written and how the city is designed. In the city center, where real estate is lucrative and space is limited, there are incentives to build higher and denser. In the suburbs, one can simply grow, not high (although the greenbelt and growth plan make this more complicated, but that`s another story). The vast self-centered construction in much of the city discourages the type of development that applies to Section 37. The problem is that many residents – including city councillors – like the suburbs because they are not in the city centre.

But if you want section 37 funds like downtown, you have to make your neighborhood more like downtown. Some city councillors suggest that Section 37 is necessary and works as well as it is. But a number of experts — including Toronto`s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, highly respected planner and planning expert Ken Greenberg and a 2013 report from munk School`s Institute of Municipal Finance and Governance — have proposed some reforms. Given that the system is so arbitrary and often unpredictable and sometimes seems to be an incentive that, contrary to what the city`s approved plans claim to want, seems desirable. A “complete overhaul,” as the mayor suggests, with options to change the system, might be the best approach…

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