Ontario issues orders to fast-track developments in Richmond Hill, Markham amid rising criticism
On the eve of Good Friday, Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives issued two special zoning orders that Richmond Hill and Markham council members say will fast-track residential developments proposed for two transit-oriented communities (TOCs) along the Yonge North Subway Extension in both municipalities.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark announced the approval of two zoning orders in the evening of April 14. The controversial planned developments in the two areas located on both sides of Hwy. 407 at Yonge Street face rising criticism from multiple resident groups from across the GTA — arguing the developments would make the areas unlivable — and Markham council had sent a letter opposing the plan.
Three local council members said the zoning orders are called enhanced minister’s zoning orders (EMZOs). No government spokesperson was available to answer questions about these zoning orders.
An EMZO is a newly added tool used to support and expedite the delivery of government priorities, including transit-oriented communities, affordable housing and long-term care homes by removing potential barriers and approval delays.
The tool has been used at least once, to fast-track the construction of a new hospital in Mississauga.
Similar to an MZO, which allows the minister to rule on how a piece of land is to be used in the province, with no chance of appeal, an EMZO also allows the minister to remove municipal use of site plan control.
Richmond Hill and Markham councils received the province’s notice right before going into a four-day Easter weekend, just months after Infrastructure Ontario released the province’s plans for the two transit-oriented communities.
The plans posted on the government’s website would bring 67 towers — some up to 80 storeys tall — to a combined 45.5-hectare area in Richmond Hill and Markham, separated by Hwy. 407.
In Richmond Hill, the High Tech TOC — locally known as Richmond Hill Centre — will see 33 towers ranging in height from 40 to 80 storeys. In Markham, the Bridge TOC — locally known as Langstaff Gateway — will see 31 residential towers and three standalone office building with a range of 15 to 80 storeys, according to the plans.
The large-scale development plan would double the population density and halve the jobs that had been previously planned for these two areas by the two municipalities and turn what was intended to be mixed-use hubs into mostly residential areas.
In a previous interview with the Toronto Star, Ontario Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma said a transit-oriented community is a place where people will wake up in the morning, take an elevator down, perhaps drop off their child at daycare, access a (transit) station, go to work, come back home on transit and pick up something at the local grocery store for dinner.”
Transit-oriented communities are mixed-use locations that include residential and commercial buildings, parks, community centres and more. The province has plans to build them around new transit and subway nodes.
我们的Old Kennedy项目就是要按照TOC的定位争取密度，因为现在有一个Go Train站，将来再增加一个。另外Steeles上的Bus Transit也会增加班次和线路。
1-19 Glen Watford项目现在就可以争取算作TOC.