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City planners at breaking point due to development pressures, new report shows

Planners survey cover(TORONTO) –  A new report shows increasing development and planning challenges in Toronto have brought City planners to a breaking point. CUPE Local 79 surveyed its members in the City’s Planning Division and found that workloads are often unmanageable and overworked staff are sometimes unable to meet legislated requirements for development applications.
“Our planners are passionate professionals who want to do great work,” said Tim Maguire, President of Local 79, “but they are overworked and in many instances not able to review applications in detail or give proper attention to community planning needs.”
The report, called “Arrested Development: Staffing shortages threaten City Planning”, includes troubling findings on overtime work and planners’ concerns about keeping up with the development and planning needs of the City:

  • 87% of City planners report they work overtime at least weekly, and 44% work overtime daily;
  • About half report rarely or never getting paid for their overtime work;
  • 92% of City planners don’t think that the Division has enough staff to complete work in a timely and satisfactory fashion;
  • Of the 92% who said there are not enough staff to do the work, two-thirds believe the Division’s ability to oversee development and implement the City’s planning needs has ‘significantly’ decreased; and
  • Over 90% are concerned, with almost two-thirds being “very concerned,” about how City Council’s direction to reduce City Planning’s budget by 2.6% will affect their work and the services they provide.

Planners say that increasing staff levels in the Division would allow them to spend more time on files, reduce errors, and undertake more productive stakeholder relations.
As one planner put it: “Additional staff in development review would allow everyone to spend more time reviewing all aspects of an application and more time negotiating better applications and communicating with the public. All of which will result in a better city.”
“It’s important to make sure we have the staff levels we need to build a livable city”, Maguire stated, “but we are also very concerned about the effect of overwork on our planners’ health and morale. It just isn’t sustainable.”
Maguire will be presenting the findings of the report to the City’s Planning and Growth Management Committee this morning as part of the Committee’s consideration of City Planning’s Performance Metrics, the second item on the day’s agenda. The survey was conducted through an online platform and included both open-ended and closed questions. Almost a third of the membership in City Planning responded.
The report can be found here.
For more information, contact Katrina Miller: 647-272-5024


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