SAHRA Wish List for the allocation of Section 37 Monies
As is our annual custom, on May 10, 2021, SAHRA submitted an updated Section 37 SAHRA Wish List May 2021 document and we reviewed the Priority A and B items with Linda McCarthy, Assistant to Councillor Mike Colle.
Our Priority A items are focused on Trees, Public Realm improvements on Upper Avenue (street lighting, benches, green areas, etc.), transformation of paved boulevards, 401 On/off ramps planting, “Gates” to Upper Avenue, plaques and public art.
City Reports on Section 37 and 37 Monies
As required under Bill 73, Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, 2015, the Treasurer has provided Council with an annual financial statement regarding the Planning Act reserve funds.
Here is the 2019 Section 37 and 45 Statement presented to the Budget Committee on June 17, 2021.
Here is the 2016 to 2018 Section 37 and 45 Statement published in Sept, 2019.
Briefing on Section 37 Issues for Upper Avenue/Lawrence
On Nov 14, 2018, a number of Ward 8 East Residents’ Association met with Councillor Mike Colle to review Priority Issues for Ward 8 East. One of those issues, is the management of Section 37 funds, specifically as it relates to the Upper Avenue area. Four Residents’ Association share an interest in this area – the Bedford Park Residents’ Organization, Lytton Park Residents’ Organization, Upper Avenue Community Association (formerly OOGRA) as well as SAHRA.
In 2015, SAHRA created a document on Section 37 issues for Upper Avenue. The document has been updated and submitted to Councillor Colle as a ‘briefing’ document on Jan 8, 2019.
Our request to Councillor Colle is to establish a Councillor/Residents’ Associations working relationship on the subject of Section 37 funds. We have asked him to:
- Obtain City reporting and/or meet with City officials to obtain financial information on each of the Section 37 sites and the allocations, receipts, disbursements and balances available
- Conduct a meeting with representatives of the four involved residents’ associations to:
- review the findings
- discuss objectives/policies/priorities for S37 allocations and/or re-allocations within the Upper Avenue/Lawrence area
- start compiling a consolidated ‘wish list’ for the Upper Avenue/Lawrence area.
- Establish a communication process between the Councillor and the four residents’ associations to:
- review annual reporting for the Upper Avenue/Lawrence area
- review new contributions/allocations
- submit new ‘wish list’ items
Toronto Star article on Section 37 money (Oct 4, 2018)
This article is one in a new occasional series, One Toronto, where the Toronto Star reporter, May Warren, takes a look at what divides us and what we share, no matter where the ward lines fall. Another interesting perspective on Section 37 monies – “is it an unfair perk for downtown or compensation for endless construction?”
1580 Avenue Road
A revised proposal submitted for 1580 Avenue Road (the former Beer Store) on July 26, 2017 for a 36-unit condominium.
1580 Avenue Road Cover Letter Jul 2017
The proposal was presented at the Oct 17, 2017 meeting of the North York Community Council. The Staff Report from Planning dated Oct 10, 2017 recommended approval of the proposal despite the fact that the proposed height was 29.5m (versus 24.5 which is permitted by By-law 569-2013) and the densification was 4.77 times the area of the lot (versus the allowed of 3.0/stated in Apr, 2016 to be 3.93 and then stated in Dec, 2016 to be 3.83). But the Staff Report maintained that the plans had to be revised to be contained within a 45 degree angular plane projected over the entire lot from the surface of the centre-point of the Avenue Road Right-of-Way.
A Section 37 assessment of $694,000 was now included in the Recommendations. SAHRA/OOGRA found the Section 37 assessment to be very interesting as we were advised in writing by the Planner on Feb 17, 2017 that “due to the size of the proposal (8085m2), it does not meet the threshold to warrant S.37 community benefit funds. The minimum amount is 10,000 square metres. Please be advised that the proposed number of units has no bearing on the determination of S37 benefits.” The report only states that the funds are to be used towards “park and streetscape improvements in the area”.
Where is the Section 37 money going?
“The Old Orchard Grove Ratepayers’ Association (OOGRA) represents residents of the Upper Avenue Road area. North York City Council approved in October 2017 a 7 storey, 36 unit condo development at 1580 Avenue Road (the former Beer Store Property) which includes Section 37 monies of $694,000 going towards park and streetscape improvements. Section 37 money is paid by developers in trade for deviations from zoning rules.
France Rochette, Chair of OOGRA attended the NYCC meeting to request that the development comply with the 45 degree angular plane rule facing Avenue Road as well as to request that the Community be consulted on how to direct this very significant Section 37 contribution. Both requests were turned down by Councillor Carmichael Greb whose motion, prepared in advance of the NYCC, was in contempt of a staff report recommendation that the 45 degree angle be respected.
Rochette has expressed deep concern with Section 37 monies: There is a lack of transparency regarding Section 37 funds and the funds are not benefitting residents most impacted by the development. For example, funds associated with The Brookdale were directed to Allenby playground upgrades over 2 km away, while funds from the York Mills and Yonge development, 3 km away, were redirected to Old Orchard Park by Councillor Carmichael Greb. However, in the Allenby school case, she had firmly told residents that once funds were allocated, they couldn’t be redirected. We denounce the mysterious assessment of these funds and the opaque decision making process for use of the funds.
With construction started $694,000 is now available for the residents surrounding 1580 Avenue Road!
We ask Councillor Carmichael Greb to demonstrate transparency and consult with the Community to allocate the funds for the residents most impacted. Many residents would love to see a splash pad nearby and we welcome your ideas! OOGRA, with the support of many residents, will continue to reach out to Councillor Carmichael Greb to seek and provide input for Section 37 monies.”
4050 Yonge Street S37 Monies
Councillor Carmichael Greb put an urgent Motion forward at City Council on Oct 5, 2016 to approve the Final Staff Report from Planning on zoning amendments and Section allocations for this site; this was Carried. The Building Permit was issued based on $300,000 being paid prior to Dec 1, 2016 – it appears that the City wanted to secure Section 37 funding for needed community improvements and to take advantage of the opportunity to improve existing infrastructure to this site.
The documents specify the overall amount of the Section 37 funds to be paid ($1,500,000) with a list of 5 allocations:
- Upgrades to the existing transit passenger pick-up and drop-off parking area along Old York Mills Road
- Path and trail improvements/connections within the West Don River Valley area adjacent to the site, York Mills Park and York Mills Valley Park
- Improvements to Woburn Park
- Improvements to the Douglas Greenbelt
- Improvements to Old Orchard Park (replaced Brookdale Park which has recently been improved)
An earlier allocation to ‘Establishment of a Village Square on Dunblaine Avenue’ has been removed as Transportation Services does not agree with this proposed change.
Release of 1717 Avenue Road S37 Monies
Councillor Carmichael Greb put a Motion forward at the City Council meeting on Oct 5, 2016 to release $5447.21 of Section 37 monies from the 1717 Avenue Road development in order to complete ($14,000 of signs were installed earlier) the installation of ‘Upper Avenue’ street signs between Lawrence to Wilson. It was Carried. We have asked the Councillor’s Office for information on the streets to be re-signed.
The ‘Summary of Section 37 Discussions” document was updated on Oct 8, 2016 for Motions put forward at the Oct 5, 2016 meeting of City Council concerning 1717 Avenue Road monies for street signs, 4050 Yonge St. Section 37 allocation changes and annual reporting of Section 37 assessments, receipts, disbursements and balances:summary-for-section-37-discussions-oct-2016
Section 37 Monies
Section 37 of the Planning Act authorizes municipalities to grant increases in height and density of development, in exchange for the provision of “facilities, services or matters”. The City of Toronto has used Section 37 provisions for community benefit contributions more extensively than any other municipality in Ontario. Since amalgamation the City has secured $309 million in Section 37 cash benefits and received $212 million in payments and accrued interest, as well as significant additional un-quantified in-kind benefits that may exceed the value of the cash contributions. Gladki Planning Associates was engaged by the City to provide recommendations to improve the clarity and transparency of the Section 37 process for obtaining community benefit contributions at the City. Their final report in January, 2014 integrates feedback generated at workshops with recommendations from an October, 2013 study “Improvements to the Section 37 Implementation Process” also prepared by Gladki Planning Associates. Section 37 Review – Final Report (7) (1) Section 37 contributions were or will be applicable to the following developments within the Wilson to Lawrence/Yonge to Bathurst boundaries: 1717 Avenue Road, 1684-1704 Avenue Road, 228 Wilson Avenue, 4050 Yonge Street and 250 Lawrence Avenue West.
At the AGM in April, 2015, SAHRA reviewed the document prepared on past Section 37 assessments, allocations and disbursements, asking the Councillor to have not-yet disbursed allocations reviewed for possible re-allocations. On March 10, 2016 SAHRA submitted a formal request to the Councillor regarding the Nov 12, 2015 Review of the Avenue Road Avenue Study Recommendations once again asking that the Councillor and City Departments review all Section 37 monies not yet received and/or distributed and determine if re-allocations should be made. On Mar 16th, we were told that “The Councillor will not be making changes to section 37 allocations already committed.” SAHRA responded to this again on Mar 20th, providing two specific scenarios that should be reviewed. The response on March 21, 2016 was that “The Councillor will not be making changes to the section 37 decisions made under the previous Councillor.”
We submitted a Wish List for future Section 37 allocations to Councillor Carmichael Greb on July 14, 2015.
SAHRA’s request letter: SAHRA Comments Avenue Road Avenue Study Recommendations Review letter
Summary for Section 37 Discussions document: Summary for Section 37 Discussions Mar 2016
SAHRA’s Section 37 Wish List: SAHRA Wish List Submission to Councillor Carmichael Greb on July 14