May 18, 2010
Zoning By-law Project
City of Toronto
Metro Hall, 22nd Floor
55 John Street
To Whom It May Concern:
The Ontario Human Rights Commission has reviewed the Covering Report to the Revised Draft of the new Zoning By-law.
In September 2009, we raised concerns about the human rights impacts of placing restrictions on housing types which could lead to discrimination against some groups. Many of these concerns have not been resolved by the current draft of the zoning by-law. We strongly encourage the City of Toronto to look again at our September 2009 submission (a copy of which is attached) and our recommendations to resolve the human rights issues.
In particular, we are concerned about minimum separation distances from one group home or residential care home to another group home or residential care home. In our view, reducing the separation to 250 metres from 300 metres is not sufficient. Minimum separation distances restrict affordable housing by limiting available sites and forcing housing providers to turn away otherwise ideal housing opportunities. As we have pointed out, such restrictions have been criticized for contributing to the social isolation of group home residents, particularly people with psychiatric disabilities.
By-laws establishing minimum separation distances for group homes are being challenged as discriminatory and contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code. We are encouraged by the response of the City of Sarnia which, we understand, is removing the discriminatory effect of such provisions by changing its bylaws.
We are concerned that the City of Toronto may not have carried out the required analysis, including consideration of the Code, to examine the discriminatory effect of minimum separation distances.
We encourage the City of Toronto to re-examine the issue of minimum separation distances, to allow for maximum flexibility in the development of affordable housing. We would be happy to provide further information if that would be helpful.
Barbara Hall, B.A, LL.B, Ph.D (hon)
Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario v. Kitchener (City) (2010), O.M.B.D. Case No. PL050611