In recent years, the City of Toronto has taken steps in protecting employment areas as land values have increased and new challenges have emerged from residential incursion in industrial areas. Toronto’s employment land policies are governed by provincial legislation and local zoning through the City’s Official Plan. In 2013, the City underwent an Official Plan Review, which detailed future designation for industrial areas under the broad-based category of ‘Core Employment Areas.’ A map provided below highlights applications for rezoning made to the City during that period. While most were rejected, opportunities to rezone are still possible if applications are brought to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Residential development or rezoning is often approved based on arguments for intensification. Goals of intensification appear in the Provincial Policy Statement’s sections on housing, settlement, and brownfield redevelopment (Ontario PPS 2014). It is defined as: “development of a property, site or area at a higher density than currently exists through: (a) redevelopment, including the reuse of brownfield sites; (b) the development the development of vacant and/or underutilized lots within previously developed areas; (c) infill development; and (d) the expansion or conversion of existing buildings” (Ontario PPS 2014: 6). Examining such policies is useful in the context of urban manufacturing as goals of intensification are often in competition with goals of employment retention. On this issue, labour unions have worked with residential communities near industrial sites, pushing the need for greater caution around development that may have a negative impact on jobs.
As an organization dealing with industrial retention, Toronto Made works to popularize the value of protecting employment spaces. We urge small and medium-scale manufacturers and makers to engage in this conversation at the municipal level. Whether it be contacting your local City Councilor or attending public meetings, we want more people to know that manufacturing is critical to a diverse economy.