RESCON pleased with roll-out of Toronto’s Concept 2 Keys initiative
To tackle the housing crisis and get projects to market quicker, we must reduce red tape and streamline the development approvals process.
That’s why the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) is excited that substantial progress is being made on Concept 2 Keys (C2K), an initiative at the City of Toronto to dramatically overhaul how it handles and reviews development applications, something that will ultimately benefit builders and buyers of homes.
We are equally pleased that city council recognized the need for more staff both for C2K and the planning department. Council recently approved 16 new permanent staff positions. Of those, seven are earmarked for the planning department and two will be in the city manager’s office specifically for the C2K initiative.
Four of the positions are in engineering and construction services, two are in transportation services, and one is in parks, forestry and recreation.
RESCON was concerned that the planning department would be stretched with the added workload of doing mandatory pre-application consultations with developers before a project is started. However, it appears that the concerns are being heard. The new hires should alleviate some of the added burden.
Meanwhile, city council also directed the chief of staff and city manager’s office to continue rolling out the C2K initiative and the operating model across the remainder of the city by the end of 2022. Importantly, Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão made an amendment to an original motion to ensure that will happen.
This is certainly a welcome step in the right direction, ensuring the city will keep the ball rolling on this vital initiative.
C2K is radically transforming how planning and development applications are reviewed by modernizing organizational structures, processes and technology. It will make the approvals system more efficient and enable builders to deliver housing at a faster pace while reducing costs which can be passed on to buyers.
The initiative was started in 2020. Purpose is to accelerate the development review process and improve the experience of applicants as well as city staff. In a nutshell, it is aimed at removing some of the obstacles that slow down the approvals process and making the system more efficient with shorter turnaround times.
C2K is being done in phases to enable city staff to test drive and refine the system at each step along the way.
Scalability of the system is presently being tested in the Etobicoke-York area and entails figuring out how to improve workflows and streamline the application process by implementing an online submission tool to be integrated with the city’s existing technology. In time, the initiative will be rolled out to other areas.
C2K will significantly improve communication and collaboration between development applicants and city staff. Co-ordinators will provide progress updates on applications and resolve minor issues while other managers will be able to escalate issues for resolution. Review teams will keep applications moving.
Technology will also be enhanced to make the application submission process more convenient and transparent for applicants and easier and less time-consuming for city staff to process, manage and prioritize.
We’re pleased with the progress that the office has made to improve the processes, technology and customer experience. The interdivisional team-based model introduced by C2K is making a significant positive difference. Increasing efficiencies is crucial, as the entire province is in the midst of a housing crisis.
We commend city staff for working with the development industry to streamline the planning and development application and approvals process, improve customer service, accountability and transparency.
This, combined with further reforms to the zoning and site plan approvals, will eventually have a dramatically positive impact on increasing housing supply. As the C2K program is rolled out, and more staff are brought on board for both C2K and the planning department, thanks to the recent decision of Toronto city council, we are hopeful that progress will continue.
Richard Lyall is president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). He has represented the building industry in Ontario since 1991. Contact him at [email protected].