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August 01, 2017

Changes to the Planning Act – What you need to know

Communities in urban and rural areas are growing rapidly in Ontario. Our communities are being shaped by policy decisions in response to growth, which ultimately directs development. This is why the Smart Growth for our Communities Act was enacted, receiving Royal Assent on December 3, 2015. The Act helps to shape our communities through a set of predetermined measures, including:
  • To help municipalities fund growth
  • Give residents a greater, more meaningful say in how their communities grow
  • Protect and promote greenspaces
  • Make the development charges system more predictable, transparent and accountable
  • Make the planning and appeals process more predictable
  • Give municipalities more independence and make it easier to resolve disputes
OPPI Bill 73 breakfast & Learn presenters Patrick Harrington of Aird & Berlis, left, and Ken Hare of Minister of Municipal Affairs, right
Recently, there have been changes to the planning system and associated regulations introduced by Bill 73 to further guide the aforementioned measures. Bill 73 is an amendment put forward to the  Development Charges Act (1997) and the Planning Act, which came into effect on several dates but is  now entirely in effect. The extensive review of the planning and appeal system started in fall 2013 and included province-wide consultations. The review resulted in more than 1,000 submissions and six regional workshops across Ontario.

The review and proposed changes have been made to: give residents more say in the growth process of their communities, to further outline land use planning rules, to give municipalities more authority to make local decisions, to clarify section 37 dedications, and to assist in resolving disputes.

So, what does this mean for planners? OPPI’s Toronto District Leadership Team hosted a breakfast and learn event on April 10th, 2017 at Metro Hall featuring Ken Hare of Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Patrick Herrington of Aird & Berlis LLP who provided members with a better understanding of key changes to the Planning Act. The following provides a summary of their presentations and proposed changes.
The crowd participating in the April 2017 Breakfast & Learn, organized by the Toronto District Leadership Team.
Changes to the Planning Act

1. Citizen Engagement
  1. Explanation of effect of public input on planning decisions
  2. Official Plans to include public consultation procedures regarding all amendments
  3. Municipalities must create Planning Advisory Committees with public representation

2. Certainty and Stability
  1. No private applications to amend new OPs and/or comprehensive ZBLs for two years
  2. 10-year review cycle for Provincial Policy Statement (PPS)

3. Local Decision Making and Accountability
  1. Development Permit System (DPS) renamed to Community Planning Permit System (CPPS)
  2. Five-year “time-out” to CPPS amendments unless supported by municipality
  3. Notice with explanation of Appeal in respect to all provincial/local policies
  4. 60-day “time-out” Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for Council to send Appeal to OMB

4. Transparency
  1. Municipal treasurers must report to Council in regards to density bonusing and parkland fees with an annual financial statement made available to the public
  2. Maximum cash-in-lieu for parkland dedication changes to 1 ha/500 units
  3. Municipalities to develop parks plans with school board participation

5. Appeals and Dispute Resolution
  1. Dispute resolution can occur during 75 days before appeal is filed with the OMB (rather than 15 days from receipt as before)
  2. Participation in dispute resolution is voluntary
  3. Appeal period remains 120 days
  4. Appellants to clearly explain reasons for appeal

New Official Plans and Amendments
  • No appeals of OPs/OPAs of certain   provincially approved matters
  • 10-year OP update cycle applies to new official plans, five-year review cycle applies where an OP has not been updated or replaced in its entirety
  • 90 day “time-out”/pause for approval authority to continue review and approval of an OP/OPA (prior to 180-day expiry)
  • 75-day dispute resolution (can’t be given for an appeal of non-decision)
  • Two-year freeze on amending entirely new official plans (unless municipal council resolves to allow private application to proceed)

New Zoning By-laws and Amendments
  • Municipality has three years to update ZBL to conform with a new OP
  • Global repeal/replace: no amendments to the new zoning by-law for two years if municipality repeals and replaces all of the zoning by-laws in force (rare)

Minor Variance Applications
  • Province can prescribe new criteria by Regulation via LGIC (Proposed Lieutenant Governor in Council) regulation made under the Planning Act
  • Local municipality can adopt new criteria via by-law to better understand local context
  • No minor variances  for two years after adoption of site-specific ZBL amendment (unless council allows application)

Changes to the Development Charges Act
  1. Reporting requirements will detail to the community how money from development charges (DCs) is spent
  2. Better integrating development charges and long-term planning goals
  3. Clearer requirements for collection and use of money paid by developers
  4. Ensuring DCs are payable at building permit issuance (or phased) for certainty of costs for developers
  5. Further identifying best practices for the application of DCs in local planning objectives
  6. Prohibit municipalities from imposing charges that are not permitted under legislation
  7. Remove the 10% reduction of capital costs required when determining a DC for transit servicesIn addition to these Planning Act changes, it’s also noteworthy to mention that a coordinated plan review of growth plans and conservation plans are complete and currently being implemented, and Bill 139 addressing OMB reform has received first reading in the Legislature. 

If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the presentations mentioned above, please feel free to contact the author, Monika Rau

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author(s), and may not reflect the position of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

Post by Monika Rau

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