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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered



  1. Being one of those called a NIMBY over the last year, I would suggest there is a lot more that none of you are reporting on. In researching the ‘development’ slated to go up right next to me [ in spite of all the city plans since 1996 ] I came across some interesting facts that no one in the media seems to be interested in. So I am going to take it back to CITY COUNCIL soon. If you’d like to know more about what we discovered about REITs and CBRE, I am at

  2. There needs to be a balance back to capitalism in this case. Zoning should be to built form as was done on King st. You can build up to 3 (5?) storeys in residential areas and zoning should allow for open options (bakery, grocery, florist, cafe, dentist, etc). Residential should also mean only that. Homes for people, independent of rental/detached etc. That would help create a more walkable, dense and affordable Toronto.

  3. zoning is the ONE area where I will unabashedly support deregulation (not complete deregulation, of course, but to a substantial degree). The great cities of the world were built organically, through innumerable small-scale developments built independently and incrementally. Adopting such an approach for Toronto would lead to a built environment that, while perhaps hard to predict/plan for, would be much more fine-grained and vibrant.

    Our current paradigm of off-limits residential neighbourhoods coupled with block-busting massive condo developments is sucking the life out of this city. Not just here either: in the US, hell even in Europe, the brand-new, master-planned areas of cities with block-sized buildings almost always lack the human feel of older, more established neighbourhoods. EVEN IF they’ve got great architecture or strong pedestrian/bike/transit friendliness.

    I *pray* that Toronto returns to a more organic model of development sooner than later. The very heart and soul of our city hangs in the balance

  4. This article singles out FoNTRA and make several claims such as that we have a “disproportionate influence”.  It is disappointing to us. We have always read John Lorinc’s articles with great interest – they usually provide useful perspectives on urban planning and development topics.
    However this time his comments are pejorative and a distortion of the facts, and he has refused to correct them when asked. We would have been pleased to talk with Mr. Lorinc about FoNTRA and how it operates before he wrote this article.
    1. Mr. Lorinc claims that residents associations (and FoNTRA in particular) have a “disproportionate influence”.  This seems highly doubtful – it has always seemed to us (and evident to most Torontonians) that it is land developers who hold that esteemed position!!.
    2. In any case, surely residents associations are an important part of our democracy? In a democracy what do we want? Don’t we want people to get engaged as residents?? City Council decisions are the responsibility of City Council, not any one stakeholder group.  If you do not like City Council decisions blame City Council!
    3. FoNTRA like all resident associations is totally dependent on volunteers (no paid staff) for its work.  Our 30ish member RAs pay only $50 per year. Hardly a well resourced organization!
    4. We do not understand why Mr. Lorinc is trying to set up FoNTRA as the reason for failure of intensification and affordable housing. We are in support of yellowbelt initiatives (read our submission to Planning and Housing Committee).  We believe it is important for the City to distribute growth across the City – not just already high density areas like Yonge and Eglinton!
    4.  We have participated in panel discussions on yellow belt matters with Mr. Lorinc and he surely must have recognised that we are rational, fact based and reasonable people.  Again, read the FoNTRA submission to Planning and Housing Committee regarding the Neighbourhood Intensification item.  You will find it to be an even handed positive response not at all like the pejorative tone that Mr. Lorinc attributes to residents associations.
    Disappointing indeed!

  5. I want to second Geoff Kettel and Cathie Macdonald’s remarks, and also to note that use of ‘NIMBY’, like use of other slur terms, operates as a deeply problematic blanket means of casting aspersions on a group of people without—as in this article—bothering to engage with their actual beliefs, actions, or intentions, not to mention the facts. (Case in point: the need for a ministerial order for the 150 Harrison development had nothing to do with local residents, but rather with the need to bypass the usual requirements for a zoning or COA amendment; and those local residents were uniformly in favour of affordable housing going on the site—namely, the affordable family housing that Habitat for Humanity was slated to build, and which would have housed at least 60 parents and children as opposed to 44 individuals.) The ‘NIMBY’ slur, in particular, is used to negatively characterize—and in the process silence and intimidate—anyone who dares become involved in planning their communities. Right-thinking people should not be using this term, or any other slur terms, for that matter.

  6. Jessica —

    No, it’s not a slur. NIMBY doesn’t mean to cast negativity on *anyone* “who dares become involved in planning their communities.” If you’ve ever read this site or the magazine, you’d know that community involvement is part of Spacing’s mantra.

    What NIMBY signifies is a community involvement that goes far beyond their scope. It targets groups, like your OCA, that continue to oppose good development and keep a variety of housing out of your area in order to not have a neighbourhood change with the times.

    NIMBY means groups that speak for 20-30 people in areas that have 10,000 or more. NIMBY means using your personal privilege — house ownership, academic sabbaticals, your skin colour, to name a few — to spend time trying to find the smallest of loopholes to oppose ANY development, especially when it comes to providing housing that is more affordable than your free-standing house.

    You and the OCA — and certainly FoNTRA — shout loudest and want Toronto to be stuck in 1974 under Crombie (bless his heart, I love him and he was good for the era, but that was 45 years ago).

    I’m sorry you’re offended, but there is a cure: stop being a road block that only goes to furthering your own personal wealth.