The Toronto Planning Review Panel is an exciting experiment to improve public engagement by capturing input from a broader segment of the population.
Toronto Planning Review Panel
The Toronto Planning Review Panel was created so that a representative group of Torontonians could help the City Planning Division guide growth and change in Toronto.
The Panel is made up of 28 members randomly selected via Civic Lottery. They have been asked to work together over the course of two years to provide City Planning with informed public input on major planning initiatives. Members are tasked, in particular, with helping to ensure these initiatives are well-aligned with the values and priorities of all Torontonians.
The Panel was created to complement, not replace, other methods of public consultation. We in City Planning undertake thousands of hours of public engagement every year, hosting hundreds of community consultations in every corner of Toronto. In public meetings, online forums, and open houses, thousands of residents take time to share their experiences, perspectives, priorities, and concerns about their neighbourhoods and their city, helping us to guide growth and change in ways that serve local residents and Toronto as a whole.
Yet we realize that our traditional consultation methods don't always allow us to hear from Toronto's many diverse communities equally. We also know that consulting the public on major city planning initiatives can prove especially challenging, especially when they seek to address several complicated, intertwined city-building challenges. For those unfamiliar with city planning, it can be difficult to find a satisfying way to contribute to the conversation.
The Planning Review Panel has been specially designed to bring a balance of new voices into the planning process, to offer members access to city planners, independent experts, and stakeholders over the course of sixteen day-long meetings, and to support members as they work together to produce informed, representative public input on major city planning initiatives shaping Toronto.
The members of the Toronto Planning Review Panel were selected through a process called a Civic Lottery. A total of 12,000 invitations were sent to randomly selected households across Toronto in early September 2015. Invitations were distributed across the city in rough proportion to the population living in the different areas of Toronto, and were transferable to anyone aged 18 or over living in the household.
Those who received a letter were asked to donate their time as a form of public service. Volunteers were not offered payment to participate, but any cost incurred (such as childcare, eldercare, food and travel) would be covered. Employees of the City of Toronto, contractors currently working for the City Planning Division, members of another official City of Toronto Advisory Body, elected municipal, provincial, or federal officials, and declared candidates seeking public office were ineligible to participate in the Panel.
From the 503 people who volunteered to participate in the Panel, 28 names were randomly selected in a blind draw that balanced six criteria. The selection guaranteed gender parity, matched the age profile of Toronto, ensured equal representation from each of the four Community Council Districts (with two young people from each), balanced for visible minority status, included a proportionate number of renters and owners, and ensured the inclusion of at least one Aboriginal member. Proportions were established based on the most recent available census profile.
A Planning Review Panel is a group of residents brought together to learn about, discuss, and provide input to City Planning staff on important city planning issues. Twenty-eight randomly selected Torontonians were appointed to the Panel as volunteers for two years. The Panel will develop its input as a group and will work to reflect the interests of all Torontonians.
The City Planning Division provides advice to City Council that helps guide growth in neighbourhoods across Toronto. We shape how the city looks and feels, and develop plans that ensure residents can work, live, play, and move throughout the city. We review applications for new buildings; promote well-designed streets, parks and open spaces; guide how buildings are located, organized, and shaped; plan transportation; work to transform Toronto’s waterfront; and undertake in-depth research used by other City Divisions on land use, housing, community services, and the environment.
Toronto is changing fast. Each year 20,000 net new residents make the city their home, and they all need places to live, work, and play. This means we need to build or upgrade new and existing buildings, public spaces and infrastructure to meet the city’s changing needs. The Planning Review Panel is a new way for residents to share their perspectives on how best to direct this growth and change. The City of Toronto’s Planning Division believes the input of residents like you, and the expert knowledge you have about the communities you live in, is essential for good decision-making. The insights and local expertise of the Panel will complement other forms of community consultation and help to ensure that growth occurs in ways that reflect the values and priorities of Toronto’s residents.
Addresses for 12,000 households across Toronto were randomly selected by Canada Post to receive an invitation.
Between October 2015 and November 2017, members of the Planning Review Panel will meet 16 times. Members of the Panel will learn first-hand about the city and its planning process from independent experts as well as City staff; contribute their own perspectives and learn about the views of others; and provide input to the Planning Division on important issues shaping the city.
The Planning Division will request input from the Planning Review Panel on issues such as transportation plans, the desired density and character of different neighbourhoods, the importance of historic buildings and public art, and the location of new community amenities like parks, libraries, and community centres. Members will not review individual development applications.
The Planning Review Panel is intended to be an influential body and an important source of input that will help the Planning Division provide effective advice to City Council. The Panel’s perspectives, insights, and priorities will be referenced in reports to Council and published on the City of Toronto’s website.
Absolutely. The City of Toronto hosts a variety of public consultations each year on a range of local and city-wide subjects. A list of upcoming consultations can be found here.