This page will include a list of resources, legal and cultural, that explain the mandate and alignment for planners to plan with human rights as the public interest. For related page on planning and race, click here.
A draft annotated reading list of some of the materials to be added to this page once completed can be found in the attached document below. This document and page are in draft, as noted on the page and on the document. These materials include some of the resources referenced during CP Planning led workshops on human rights and planning, as well as additional materials often shared for encouraged further reading.
This page was prepared to support fellow planners in their process of understanding human rights law and the professional planning documents which support alignment to plan in a way that affirm that Black Lives Matter, Indigenous Lives Matter, and contribute to the development of systems that ensure people of all backgrounds, ages, genders, and abilities have access to rights included in Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (inclusive of adequate housing, employment, goods, services and facilities, and cultural expression).
While this page was created for planners, planning is a shared duty in which all members of community have the right to participate in. Non-planners are encouraged to read this page and with this information, encourage planners - members of community paid to guide processes in the public interests - to meet their professional and human duties as outlined in the documents listed below.
In the below, "we", "us", and "our" refer to members of community identifying as planners (i.e. urban planners, planning directors, registered professional planners, those dealing with land use policies and government financial policies regarding real estate, planning professors/educators).
The three types of human rights discrimination are described by lawyer Jessica Simone Roher, in her article 'Zoning Out Discrimination: Working Towards Housing Equality in Ontario', published by the Journal of Law and Social Policy in 2016.
Planners have not planned in a way that is consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code. We have used our practice, willingly and unwillingly to contribute to the discrimination of people protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code. It is for this reason that planning bodies have repeatedly been brought to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and Commission by human rights lawyers and advocates. The page will be updated to include documents and examples of:
The below are a sample of cases brought to the OMB, OHRC, and OHRT regarding planning bodies' discriminatory planning practices and policies. Click here to see the reading list page 'Planning and Human Rights: Legal Cases and Resources' prepared by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
The cases below, actions by non-planners, led to the inclusion of human rights references in provincial planning legislation. As urban planners, we must remember and honour the work put in by non-planners to have us understand our professional and human duties to plan in a way consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
' Beginning in 1946, the township of North York explicitly zoned for “families.” This bylaw defined “family” as a household whose residents were related to one another.
In 1971, the Globe and Mail reported on a high-profile case that ultimately challenged this bylaw. That year, after five weeks of searching, four women rented a $300-per-month basement apartment in a house on Walwyn Avenue, just north of Weston. Their tenure violated the zoning bylaw, which only permitted families to live in the area.
Within a month, a North York bylaw inspector warned the women that they had to move out or face a court case. The women immediately began to lobby North York to change the bylaw. One of the tenants, a teacher named Barbara Greene, was elected as North York’s first female councillor on the heels of her popular fight against the bylaw. In office, she pushed to have the Ontario Municipal Board review the bylaw. In 1974, Greene celebrated after the discriminatory bylaw was overturned. '
The story of Barbara Greene, her three women roommates, and the ways land use zoning bylaws discriminate against single women is described in further detail in House Divided, in particular, the excerpt of Cheryll's chapter, 'How Neighbourhoods Are Built to Keep Out Single Women', published on Walrus Magazine.
Advocacy Centre For Tenants Ontario, Paul Dowling, House of Friendship and Waterloo Region Community Legal Services won an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) under subsections of the Planning Act from a decision of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo to approve Official Plan Amendments and the City of Kitchener's Zoning By-law Amendment that discriminated against those with disabilities. The amendments of the Region of Waterloo and City of Kitchener sought to ban the development of housing for those needing in-home care.
As a result of community appeal against the decision of planners, the OMB:
The Dream Team, a coalition of mental health consumers funded mainly by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and the Toronto-Central Local Health Integration Network, retained the legal assistance of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre to file human rights applications at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT) of Ontario against four Ontario municipalities: Sarnia, Kitchener, Smiths Falls, and Toronto. These applications challenged discriminatory bylaws that imposed mandatory distances between group homes, dictating how close one group home can be to other group homes or other supportive housing.
The Planning Act is provincial legislation that sets out the ground rules for land use planning in Ontario. It describes how land uses may be controlled, and who may control them. It provides the basis for preparing Official Plans and planning polices that will guide future development, tools to facilitate planning for the future, regulating and controlling land uses through zoning bylaws and minor variances, and ensuring the right of local citizens to be notified about planning decisions, to give their views tot heir municipal council, and where permitted, to appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
Key statements of the Planning Act (emphasis added):
The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) is legal document governed by the Planning Act. The Planning Act states that planning decisions of the council of a municipality, a local board, a planning board, a minister of the Crown and a ministry, board, commission or agency of the government, (a) shall be consistent with the policy statements; and (b) shall conform with the provincial plans that are in effect on that date, or shall not conflict with them, as the case may be.
A direct result of the work of the Dream Team and the Ontario Human Rights Commission, statement 4.6 was added to the 2014 PPS, the first update since 2005. The 2020 PPS includes this as statement 4.4.
Known in short as the 'Growth Plan', this is Ontario's 'long term plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, designed to promote economic growth, increase housing supply, create jobs and build communities that make life easier, healthier and more aﬀordable for people of all ages.'
Key Statements (emphasis added):