August 2019
In Ontario, the Province guides land use planning through several pieces of legislation, including the Planning Act, Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), and provincial plans like the Greenbelt Plan and the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.

Over the last year, Ontario has seen numerous changes to the land use planning legislation through amendments to the Planning Act, Local Planning Appeal Tribunal Act, and Ontario Heritage Act. Through Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019 major changes in the building development framework were passed and received royal assent on June 6, 2019.

AMO advocated strongly on behalf of municipal interests throughout the legislative process including a presentation before the Standing Committee on Justice Policy.

Amendments to Planning Act, 1990
Bill 108 reduced timelines for making decisions on development applications. Specifically, for the Official Plans, the time from receiving a complete application to decision has been reduced from 210 to 120 days. For zoning by-law amendments, this timeline has been reduced from 150 days to 90 days. Plans of subdivision are now sheltered from third-party appeals.

The use of Inclusionary Zoning is limited to transit areas. AMO believes that this limits the utility of this affordable housing tool.

Section 37 of the Planning Act, which allowed for height and density bonusing has been replaced with a new Community Benefit Charges framework. The CBC framework will allow municipal governments to pass by-laws covering a particular area. See AMO’s Backgrounder on Development Charges and Community Benefit Charges for more details.

Amendments to Local Planning Appeal Tribunal Act (LPAT), 2017
AMO strongly advocated to allow the LPAT to continue to evaluate appeals based on compliance and conformity. However, de novo hearings will now be re-introduced into LPAT’s appeal framework. The regulation stipulating transition provisions is expected this fall.

Amendments to Ontario Heritage Act, 1990
With the amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act, municipal councils are now required to notify property owners if their properties are included in the register due to cultural heritage value or interest. The changes also introduce new timelines aimed at making the heritage process more transparent. A technical amendment was made at the committee stage that the Trust is included in notices. The legislative language around erecting structures on a heritage site was also clarified to stress that the attributes that give heritage significance should not be altered or demolished.

The changes proposed in the Bill could improve the heritage register’s maintenance and transparency. However, it also limits the municipal government’s ability to designate a property under the act after 90 days from the prescribed event (to be defined by a future provincial regulation). This timeline is especially hard to follow in communities with insufficient resources available for heritage identification and protection.

AMO will be monitoring the outcomes of these changes very closely, and looks forward for a balance between streamlining development and protecting heritage.