City hall – Broken and needs fixing - Metro US

City hall – Broken and needs fixing

If you’re planning on making a small addition to your home, or maybe enlarging the back deck, the work you do will probably offend the welter of zoning bylaws on the property, and you’ll need a minor variance to the zoning bylaw.

That’s where things get difficult. You must apply to the Committee of Adjustment for that minor change by plunking down $693 — that’s what the city charges for allowing you to ask that the minor zoning change be considered — and then wait.

Currently, the committee is so backlogged with applications that the first hearing date you can get in Toronto and East York is April 14. (That agenda was getting crowded Wednesday: Today the first hearing date might be April 28.) The delay is about the same in North York and Etobicoke, although not quite so bad in Scarborough.

After the hearing is over you’ll wait another two weeks for a decision, and then there’s a 20-day appeal period, so by mid-June you’ll be able to apply for a building permit. That will take more money and time.

Maybe, if the Committee of Adjustment’s decision goes your way, you can buy the materials to start building that deck sometime after Canada Day on July 1. Forget about getting to work as soon as winter is over.

I asked staff why they couldn’t schedule more meetings of the committee, say once a week rather than every two weeks. “There’s a shortage of staff,” I was told.

Isn’t that just what you want to hear from city hall? We can’t give good service because we don’t have the staff, and that’s because we don’t have the money to hire them. The Committee of Adjustment is part of the Planning Department, which has been starved for funds for years.

It’s yet another example of how seriously broken city hall has become.

Pay your money and hurry up and wait. Put off those renovations until city hall gets its act in order. Will any election candidate relieve us of this despair?

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