May 2014 - Northland Paving Toronto | Toronto Paving Company, Toronto Paving & Interlock Experts

Driveway Permits : Effects on the Paving Industry in Toronto

By | Asphalt, Consumer Protection, Interlock, Northland, Residential | No Comments

Driveway permits in Toronto, what is the purpose?  The reason for the $139.20 permit changes depending upon who you talk to within the City.  Northland Paving is an established reputable paving contractor doing business in City of Toronto since 1985 and we still can’t figure out the true benefit.  One may call it a tax grab but the reality is that it is probably costing the City more to administrate than it collects in revenue. It has a hugely negative impact on paving companies in Toronto, their employees and most homeowners alike.

The paving season in Toronto is short to begin with, approximately 7-8 months.  Any good contractor is extremely busy during that time and most employed in the industry are seasonal workers. So what does driveway permits have to do with seasonal workers?

There are many negative layers to the driveway permit dilemma.

1-      The driveway contractor works on volume to complete 12 months of work in 7-8 months.  The permit officers claim a 1-2 day turn around period to receive the permit but the reality is 2-3 to weeks to receive a permit.  No work may commence before the permit has been received. Scheduling has become a logistical nightmare as the contractor can no longer work in an efficient manner and will need to increase pricing in order to compensate. The backlog at the City means there is no steady flow of work to the contractor.  This bureaucratic red tape causes lay-offs as paving crews cannot report to work.  This issue falls on deaf ears at City Hall as City staff see no problem with these employees not reporting to work and not getting paid. Paving is a tough industry to begin with as employees already lose income to rain days but to lose income to inefficiencies at City Hall seems highly unfair and disrespectful.  How fast would policy change if a paving contractor had the ability to cause a City worker to lose pay?

2-      Homeowners have the extra burden of paying a $139.20 driveway permit fee.  In some cases this will be the only inconvenience for them in addition to a delay in the project start.  In other cases (and there are many examples) the City will place the driveway project on hold citing minor curb or sidewalk work do be done.  They cannot give a definitive date for these works to be done other than to say some time “this season”.

Homeowners are also inconvenienced and understandably upset if the permit dictates a reduction in the size of a driveway they may have had in place for over 20 years but this will be discussed on a subsequent blog.

3-      What are the steps involved in obtaining a driveway permit?  Although the City is considered to be one, the rules differ on how you obtain a driveway permit and what is deemed legal depending upon what part of the City you reside.  In Scarborough and North York an application must be made at City Hall, once received the City will dispatch a Permit Officer to go inspect the driveway.  In downtown Toronto and East York and appointment must be made to meet on-site with a Permit Officer who will then issue a directive, with the directive you may then apply for a driveway permit.  The Officer will fill out a report with their recommendations and submit it to the City who will then make the permit available for either the homeowner or contractor to sign.  Many cases minor issues are found with City curbs or sidewalks and the City will call for their replacement.  Sometimes the repairs are necessary often times it is not and it seems the City is willing to spend money unnecessarily.  The Permit Officer will again return after the work has been completed to insure compliance.

Northland Paving has been fighting for change with the City of Toronto as it pertains to driveway permits since they were introduced.  The reasons cited for permits differ depending on who you talk to and we will discuss this on a subsequent blog.

Northland Paving met with the Mayor and the head of the Department of Transportation Services (this is the department responsible for driveway permits) in 2012 in an effort to create efficiencies within the permit process.  The Mayor agreed with the downside of permits and the process to obtain them and cited that the wheels at City Hall turn very slowly.  The head of the Transportation Services vowed that processes would be made quicker and more efficient and that the customer service would be improved.  The wheels turn very slowly at City Hall indeed as it still takes up to 3 weeks to receive a permit.

It is noteworthy that none of our neighbouring Cities in the 905 area are require driveway permits and homeowners are free to upgrade and beautify their properties!

The History of Driveway Permits in Toronto

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Driveway Permits in Toronto were not a requirement before the City of Toronto amalgamated with North York, East York, Scarborough and Etobicoke.  In 1998  there was peace in world of driveway contractors in Toronto.  Homeowners were able to maintain their asphalt driveways with ease, so to speak.

The enforcement of driveway permits in Toronto although a by-law in the books was virtually unenforced anywhere other than North York.  The only reason North York sought to enforce them was in response to the frustrations of homeowners who had their driveways replaced only to have the City come along and tear up the City owned portion for public works.  The motion was passed by North York’s Council as a means to do a check and provide a clearance that no conflicting or planned work was scheduled for a given property.

Post amalgamation, the City began redistributing staff across the new Toronto.  In 2008 the dust was blown off the old Scarborough By-law Book and it was discovered that Scarborough actually also had a requirement to obtain driveway permits.  Northland Paving has been paving driveways in Scarborough and the rest of the GTA since 1985, legally, and driveway permits had never been a requirement until 2008.

The City of Toronto then faced the task of merging all of the different zoning by-laws and requirements into one fit for the City.  Meanwhile, this left spotty and unequal interpretations of what constitutes a legal driveway.

Several attempts had been made trying to consolidate the zoning by-laws before finally being released in 2013.

It is still unclear as to the real reason for the requirement  of  driveway permits in Toronto.  Northland Paving will explore this in a future post.

The City has stated that if an existing driveway size does not comply with the new zoning by-law but was legal before, it may grand-fathered and allowed to remain the same size.  However, it is not the Zoning Dept. but rather Transportation Services, Right-of-Way Management that grants driveway permits and have different thoughts on the issue.

Driveway Permits in Toronto?

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Driveway Permit in Toronto

Do you need a Driveway Permit in Toronto to re-pave an existing driveway ?  The answer is yes.

The Toronto By-law states that you must obtain a Driveway Permit and you must only hire a paving contractor licensed to work in the City of Toronto.

The process for obtaining a permit varies depending upon which part of the City you reside.  What dictates an acceptable driveway also varies depending upon where you live.

Toronto is one of the only Cities who require a Paving Permit to replace an existing driveway.  Cities usually only require a permit if a brand new driveway is being installed to service a new dwelling or if an existing driveway is being widened.  Toronto requires a permit for any works done by a paving contractor.

This By-law has been challenged several times by Northland Paving at City Council meetings, with the Mayor, City Council Members and City staff alike.

The enforcement of and the reasoning behind this By-law has been evolving over the years and has not been evenly enforced across the City.

As there are several layers to what seems to be a simple process, “the need for a driveway paving permit” we will explore the topic further in subsequent blogs