In addition to the soon-to-be established Toronto Local Appeal Body (LAB), the City is launching a Mediation Pilot Program today to assist in resolving disputes for minor variance and consent applications being considered by the Committee of Adjustment. This marks another step towards greater transparency and easing local participation in community planning decisions.
This free program strives to assist disputing parties in reaching a voluntary, mutually-acceptable solution for some or all of the issues in dispute. The program is intended to help foster a collaborative process with neighbours as well as to reduce costs, provide access to neutral professional expertise and increase the likelihood of a settlement.
"Toronto is investing in providing smart and efficient City services that respond to Torontonians' needs," said Mayor John Tory. "The hope is that through the Mediation Pilot Program, residents can resolve disputes quicker and at reduced costs – and reduce the number of appeals."
"The planning process can be overwhelming. Residents concerned about minor variances or consents may not have the experience or financial resources to challenge lawyers and planners hired by applicants," said Councillor David Shiner (Ward 24 Willowdale), Chair of the Planning and Growth Management Committee. "I am hoping that mediation will provide an opportunity for neighbours to get professional assistance and avoid expensive appeals."
The mediation sessions will be conducted by a neutral third-party mediator and a neutral, experienced professional planner with knowledge of the City's Official Plan and zoning bylaws, including applicable minor variance and consent legislation. The Committee of Adjustment renders the final decision and is not bound by the mediated agreement.
The program will roll out across the city and will be available through the Committee of Adjustment starting with North York on February 9, followed by Toronto and East York on February 15, Scarborough on February 16, and Etobicoke and York on February 23.
More information about the Mediation Pilot Program is available at http://www.toronto.ca/cofa.