Municipal by-law reforms

A Now magazine article has reported that Toronto Public Health has prepared a report called Towards Healthier Apartment Neighbourhoods.

The idea is to improve the economic and social services that are available in the areas where the large apartment towers are presently isolated from existing services. The idea is that if you improve shopping and services, you improve the health of the people who live there.

The report proposes seemingly simple changes that would be permitted by current zoning such as:
soft landscaping to encourage walking.
removing physical barriers to surrounding neighbourhoods.
installing better lighting.

But many other improvements the report recommends are prohibited by current bylaws such as:
converting unused parking space into children’s play areas.
permitting outdoor food markets.
home-based retail businesses.
leasing buildings’ multipurpose rooms to fitness, recreation or health service providers.
erecting sheds for community garden projects.
allowing ground-floor grocery stores.

Current planning rules “may be preventing apartment neighbourhoods across the city from emerging as economically vibrant, well-served and healthy communities,” the report concludes.

Officials with the Tower Renewal program, which was set up during David Miller’s term to address deteriorating conditions in Toronto’s more than 1,000 high-rise apartments, say that overhauling the zoning laws is critical.

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