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• Section 42 Planning Act park levies: councillors vote contrary to their own policy
Part of Capital Projects General Policies
In his 2009 report on capital spending in the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division , Toronto's Auditor General, Jeff Griffiths, pointed out a problem: "Certain recommendations have been made at Community Council to redirect 100 per cent of cash-in-lieu payments toward a local ward, rather than the allocation split approved by Council. The recommendations submitted for Council approval did not indicate that the allocation was contrary to Council’s policy." here is the whole passage of the Auditor's comments on the issue:
p.23 Park levies
"Need to Review Approvals for Redirection of Cash-in-Lieu Payments for Parkland Dedication. Interim cash-in-lieu payment allocation policy requires 25/25/25/25 per cent split. See endnote
One source of funding for new parkland comes from Section 42 of the Planning Act, which gives the City authority to require either land or cash payment for parkland purposes as a condition of development or redevelopment of land. In 1999, City Council adopted an interim policy on the allocation of cash-in-lieu payments that split funds equally between parkland acquisition and parkland development and further between district and citywide basis. This policy remains in place.
'100% cash-in-lieu payments redirected to one ward, contrary to Council policy'
Certain recommendations have been made at Community Council to redirect 100 per cent of cash-in-lieu payments toward a local ward, rather than the allocation split approved by Council. The recommendations submitted for Council approval did not indicate that the allocation was contrary to Council’s policy. While the recommendations were subsequently approved by City Council, there was no express approval for the waiver of the policy previously approved by Council. We have consulted with the City Solicitor and the City Clerk, who are reviewing this matter."
[CELOS comments: This is interesting because it’s very likely that the original intent of the law was exactly that the park levy funding should go near the new development. So it’s likely that the 1999 policy is the one that is outside the law.]
Response from management re overriding policy:
Management Response to the Auditor General’s Review
p. 13-14 "While it is reasonable to expect City officials to disclose when their reports contain recommendations that are contrary to policy, the City Clerk notes that many recommendations that vary or are contrary to policy are the result of motions moved by Members during debate.
It is not practical to prescribe the form of motions by amendment to the Council Procedures, nor is it practical to enforce such a rule. To require Members to include such a preface to their motions would require them—and the presiding officer—to know the contents of all City policies.
Further, the City Clerk is required by COTA to record all decisions and resolutions of Council and its committees without note or comment, so it not possible for the Clerk to annotate or comment on recommendations when transmitted from Community Councils to Council.
However, under existing Council Procedures, a City Official who wishes to bring additional information to Council’s attention when considering a committee recommendation may submit supplementary correspondence on the item and the Clerk will place it before Council."
[Endnote] "25/25/25/25 per cent split" means (according to Freedom of Information Access Request 04-2616) that: “The City’s current policy for distribution of cash-in-lieu payments is as follows: 25% goes to local parkland acquisition 25% goes to local park development 25% goes to citywide parkland acquisition 25% goes to citywide development.” "Local" in this case is interpreted as within one of the large city sections, e.g. pre-amalgamation Etobicoke (now called West District" or pre-amalgamation City of Toronto, now called "Toronto-East York." So the parkland could be miles from the site of the development for which cash-in-lieu was paid.
One of the directors sent CELOS the specific passages showing where (in community council) the policy was subverted or ignored:
1) North York Community Council, May 31, 2005 (5.49) - 0 Beffort Road, (minutes)
2) Council, May 17-19, 2005 (6.93) - 2701 Keele Street, (minutes)
3) North York Community Council, May 4, 2004 (5.30) - 2772-2778 Keele Street, (minutes)
Jerry Shaubel, CA, CA.CISA, CGAP Director, Auditor General's Office