What is FoNTRA?

The Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations (FoNTRA) is a non-profit, volunteer organization comprised of 28 member organizations.  Its members, all residents’ associations, include at least 170,000 Toronto residents within their boundaries.  The 28 residents’ associations that make up FoNTRA believe that Ontario and Toronto can and should achieve better development.  Its central issue is not whether Toronto will grow, but how.  FoNTRA believes that sustainable urban regions are characterized by environmental balance, fiscal viability, infrastructure investment and social renewal.

The members of FoNTRA agree to work jointly to preserve and enhance the quality of life that makes our area such an enjoyable place to live, shop and work.  FoNTRA is dedicated to safeguarding the sustainability of our neighbourhoods.  We believe in the fairness and democracy of Toronto’s political system.  We also believe it is important that residents and neighbourhoods have early and meningful input in terms of planning and related issues which are of direct relevance to their community.

FoNTRA’s member organizations are:
ABC Residents’ Association
Avenue Road & Eglinton Community Association
Bedford Park Residents’ Association
Deer Park Ratepayers’ Group
Don Mills Residents Inc.
Edwards Gardens Neighbourhood Association
Eglinton Park Residents’ Association
Forest Hill Homeowners’ Association
Governors Bridge Ratepayers Association
Glenarchy Residents’ Association
Lawrence Park Ratepayers’ Association
Leaside Property Owners’ Association
Lytton Park Residents’ Organization Inc.
Moore Park Residents’ Association
North Rosedale Ratepayers’ Association
Oriole Park Association
St. Andrew’s Ratepayers Association
Sherwood Park Residents’ Association
South Armour Heights Residents’ Association
South Eglinton Ratepayers’ & Residents’ Association
South Hill District Home Owners’ Association
Stanely Knowles Housing Co-op
Summerhill Residents’ Association
Teddington Park Residents’ Association
West Lansing Homeowners Association
York Mills Gardens Community Association
York Mills Ratepayers’ Association
York Mills Valley Association

FoNTRA has been instrumental in achieving success related to the new Official Plan, Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) reform and proposed Committee of Adjustment improvements.  They were also involved with the Right-to-Access Bylaw issue, Municipal Electrion Finance Reform and the Tox Chemical Right-to-Know Bylaw.  They have been actively involved with the Yonge Eglington Centre, Mount Pleasant Group of Companies, Jarvis Street and the Development Charge Bylaw issues.

SAHRA is a member of FoNTRA.  Our Board Members attend the FoNTRA meetings to provide input for our neighbourhood.

Link to FoNTRA’s website for information on  Topics and Latest News:


** New ** FoNTRA’s Brief on Bill 139

The Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Association (FoNTRA) is an umbrella organization representing over 30 residents’ associations (including SAHRA) in central Toronto concerned with planning and development issues that affect our member organizations.

FoNTRA’s excellent submission to the Provincial Government (Ministry of Municipal Affairs) on the proposed Bill 139 (Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017) is attached. FoNTRA commends the Government for introducing Bill 139 which provides for the creation of a new tribunal (the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) to hear appeals of municipal planning decisions. FoNTRA supports the abolition of de novo hearings and the introduction of hearing procedures that will put residents and property owners on more of an equal footing with developers. FoNTRA also supports the proposed changes that will have the effect of limiting site-specific applications for official plan amendments.

While FoNTRA supports the thrust of the proposed legislation, they have concerns about some of the proposed changes. The attached brief summarizes their general support for the bill and specifies concerns.

Bill139_Submission August 4 2017_

FoNTRA’s 2016 Year End Report

The Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Association had a very busy year in 2016, their 15th year since inception.  Their 2016 Year End Report is linked below

Highlights include:

Please read the Report for details.

FoNTRA’s 2015 Year End Report

Throughout the year member reps. have been meeting to share experience and knowledge, and to work on improving how planning works for us.

Our neighbourhoods continue to be under pressure for intensification, often inappropriate and/or excessive. But SERRA is now with working with the City on a new approach to planning in Davisville Village in response to an influx of tall, garage dominated houses, which may prove to be a model for other member organizations. The new Keewatin West group joined us after successfully defeating a stacked townhouse proposal. Work continues on the many issues facing the Yonge and Eglinton area. Issues with how City Planning measures lot sizes have been resolved.

FoNTRA’s engagement with the City and Province has resulted in improvements to how planning is done. We have written letters, made deputations, met with City Planning, and participated in a Provincial Working Committee to develop regulations for what is a minor variance, building an alliance with some other umbrella resident associations across the Province.

FoNTRA members are currently advising the City on the possible use of mediation in conjunction to the Committee of Adjustment and the introduction of a Local Appeal Body to replace the Ontario Municipal Board for Toronto appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions regarding minor variances and consents).


FoNTRA’s Position on Council Request for removing Toronto from the Jurisdiction of the OBM

The letter FoNTRA sent to the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, MPP, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing with copies to City Council and the Chief Planner.


February 29, 2012


Hon. Kathleen Wynne, MPP
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
777 Bay Street, 17th Floor
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5

Re: Council Request for Removing Toronto from the Jurisdiction of the Ontario Municipal Board

Dear Minister Wynne:

At its meeting of February 6, 2012, Toronto City Council voted to request you, as responsible Minister, to amend the Planning Act, the Heritage Act, and the City of Toronto Act to abolish the Ontario Municipal Board’s (OMB) jurisdiction over Zoning By-law Amendments, Site Plan, Subdivision, and Condominium Plan Approvals, and Community Improvement Plans and appeals under the Heritage Act.

While FoNTRA shares many of the key concerns regarding the current role and operation of the OMB put forward by the initiators and supporters of this action, it does not support removing Toronto from the jurisdiction of the OMB since the broader need for significant provincial planning reform is not being addressed by this move. Furthermore, FoNTRA sees the right to appeal City Council decisions to an independent body as being of paramount importance in a public process that is to respect procedural fairness for all actors. Experience has shown that residents are regularly called upon to defend the intent and purpose of City policies and regulations in situations where City Council and/or planning staff fail to do so.

FoNTRA has consistently advocated a series of meaningful planning reforms, which it believes would significantly improve the planning processes in Ontario and OMB’s role within it. Below is a summary of FoNTRA’s key recommendations for a more comprehensive planning reform:

1.  The number of appeals going forward to the OMB needs to be reduced significantly: Official Plans are routinely treated like Zoning By-laws to be amended “willy-nilly” on an ad hoc basis. FoNTRA’s suggestions are designed to strengthen both the planning substance and the planning process while complementing the recent planning reforms, which included a mandatory 5-year review of the Official Plan. By limiting Official Plan amendments to the 5-year review process, FoNTRA believes, the number of appeals to the OMB would be drastically reduced since any re-zonings, by law, would be in conformity with the adopted Official Plan. The following changes to the Planning Act are required:

2.   The various Provincial planning policies, plans, and review/approval processes need to be better coordinated and consolidated: Historic accidents and coincidences have led to the creation of a curious amalgam of planning legislation, policies, and plans which create layers of requirements addressing similar or identical issues. The Planning Act, City of Toronto Act, Places to Grow Act, Heritage Act, Beltway Act, Provincial Policy Statement, etc. need to be better integrated in order to offer both municipalities and the public more seamless guidance with coordinated review/approval processes.3.   The OMB needs to function strictly as an appeal body: The OMB’s role should be restricted to that of an appeal tribunal, which does not conduct hearings de novo but simply reviews the record of evidence that underlies the decision of the municipal Council. This role would require the OMB to have regard both to the adopted Official Plan and to maintain record keeping procedures at standards comparable to that of the judiciary so that the OMB can be held accountable. Such a more restrictive role would also necessitate stricter requirements for professional qualifications in land use planning of Board members.4.  The use of Section 37 density bonuses needs to be circumscribed: The Planning Act should specify those conditions for Section 37 under which density bonuses should be granted. Increases in density and height in return for public benefits should be granted only under the following three conditions:

  • The Official Plan or the Secondary Plan establishes for each area the maximum bonus that can be achieved and the public benefits for which a bonus may be given;
  • The public benefit in return for which a bonus may be given directly contributes to increasing the carrying capacity of the particular local area in which the increased density or height is to be accommodated; and
  • The public benefit is of comparable value to the economic benefit achieved by the increased density or height.

5.   The Minor Variance process needs to be clarified: Section 45(1) of the Planning Act, which governs the Minor Variance process, has been inconsistently applied both by the Committees of Adjustment and the OMB. Although the Divisional Court, in its 2005 Vincent v. DeGasperis decision, has provided clear and detailed guidance, this Court interpretation has still not reached most of the responsible decision-makers. The government should either expand the Planning Act or issue a Regulation to clarify the following key points:  

  • Each variance needs to satisfy the four tests and the Committee of Adjustment (or OMB or LAB), in its reasons, has to set out whatever may reasonably necessary to demonstrate that it did so;
  • Each variance has to be minor both in size and importance;
  • Each variance has to be desirable from a public interest perspective for the appropriate development or use of the land, building, or structure;
  • Each variance has to maintain the intent and purpose of the Zoning By-law;
  • Each variance has to maintain the intent and purpose of the Official Plan; and,
  • There is discretion to grant or deny the variances even if all tests are met.

It is FoNTRA’s position that removing Toronto from the jurisdiction of the OMB, while enjoying some obvious popular appeal, represents a simplistic solution to a complex problem. FoNTRA would very much appreciate the opportunity to meet with you at your convenience and to review these more wide-ranging planning reform recommendations with you in person.

Sincerely yours,

Peter Baker                                                                              Geoff Kettel

Co-Chair, FoNTRA
124 Sherwood Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4P 2A7
Co-Chair, FoNTRA
129 Hanna Road
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3N6

Mayor and Toronto City Council
Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning Division
FoNTRA Members and Other Interested Parties

The Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations (FoNTRA) is a non-profit, volunteer organization comprised of 28 member organizations.  Its members, all residents’ associations, include at least 170,000 Toronto residents within their boundaries. The 28 residents’ associations that make up FoNTRA believe that Ontario and Toronto can and should achieve better development. Its central issue is not whether Toronto will grow, but how.  FoNTRA believes that sustainable urban regions are characterized by environmental balance, fiscal viability, infrastructure investment and social renewal.