In Toronto, the builder alone decides how a building will look. The city planning department can say where a building can or cannot be, and how it should interact with its surroundings, but its appearance is up to the builder. Neighbours can make suggestions, but that’s all. Even the all-powerful Ontario Municipal Board does not interest itself in a building’s aesthetics.
Some cities have Design Review Panels that have more or less power over the appearance of major developments. In certain parts of Toronto, a professional Design Review Panel can offer suggestions about how a major building might be designed, but other than moral persuasion, it has no effective power.
With the hope that public opinion might encourage (or shame) developers to make better buildings, a private organization offers Torontonians a chance to express their views online about good and bad buildings. The annual PUG Awards, as they’re called, reflect popular opinions about the year’s major commercial and residential developments.