Image of the Bruce Peninsula courtesy of Destination Ontario

Bill 200, Agricultural Land Protection, Electricity Distribution Financing, and Other Updates

Policy Update

Bill 200, Homeowner Protection Act – Changes to Heritage Designation Deadlines 

Last week, Bill 200, the Homeowner Protection Act received Royal Assent, extending the deadline to designate properties listed on municipal heritage registers to January 1, 2027. These changes respond to concerns that the original 2025 deadline did not provide enough time for municipalities to review the listed properties, leading to increased reactionary designations and appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal. The bill also clarifies changes that properties removed from registers are ineligible for heritage designations for five years, bans registration of Notices of Security Interest for consumer goods on the Land Registry, and establishes a 10-day cooling off period for new homebuyers.

Provincial Guidance on Agricultural Land Protection related to Energy Projects 

Last week, the Minister of Energy and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs issued a letter providing direction to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to include agricultural land protections in future energy procurements. This direction comes following AMO’s recent advocacy to the province and IESO seeking stronger guidance on energy project siting and agricultural protection.  

Ontario Energy Board (OEB) – Electricity Distribution Financing 

AMO submitted comments to the OEB to inform their work exploring funding options for growth-related electricity distribution infrastructure. This directly impacts how much new developments cost and local energy rates. This is also one of many important conversations about how we pay for growth. It’s estimated that local distribution companies (LDCs) need to spend as much as $120 billion by 2050 to expand the grid – more than double the rate of current infrastructure investment. As majority LDC owners, municipalities have a vested interest in ensuring LDCs can afford these upgrades.  

AMO’s Advocacy in response to Auditor General’s Report on Aggregate Management 

Last year, the Ontario Auditor General issued a report on a value-for-money audit of Ontario’s Management of Aggregate Resources. AMO has sent a letter to the Ministry of Natural Resources calling on the province to implement the Auditor General’s recommendations particularly as they relate to addressing gaps in the aggregate management framework including:  

  • An inadequate number of inspectors conducting infrequent and incomplete inspections 
  • Aggregate extraction fees that are inadequate to fund the aggregate management program and royalty payments to municipalities 
  • Cumulative impacts of multiple aggregate operations in small areas leading to increased environmental risks to source water, natural habitats, and agricultural land 

AMO’s Submission to OMAFRA Rural Economic Development Strategy Consultation 

AMO submitted comments to the Ministry of Rural Affairs to support their rural economic development strategy consultation. AMO’s submission advocated for increased provincial support for:   

  • Effective coordination of local and provincial economic development funding, increased funding and a commitment to a Social and Economic Prosperity Review 
  • Workforce development initiatives to connect students and workers with the right skills for in-demand jobs with attraction and retention supports 
  • Building complete communities that are resilient and attractive to workers and business including supports for affordable housing, infrastructure, health services, transportation, broadband and energy 

Private Members’ Bill: Bill 207, Municipal Accountability and Integrity Act 

Since 2021, AMO has called on the provincial government to pass legislation that enables municipalities to enforce the ethical behaviour of elected officials.  

AMO engaged in extensive consultations with municipalities and worked in partnership with ministry officials to develop a list of strong recommendations to respond to this important municipal concern, including: 

  • Updating municipal Codes of Conduct to account for workplace safety and harassment  
  • Creating a flexible administrative penalty regime that could be adapted to the local economic and financial circumstances of municipalities across Ontario 
  • Increasing training of municipal Integrity Commissioners to enhance consistency of investigations and recommendations across the province 
  • Allowing municipalities to apply to a member of the judiciary to remove a sitting member if recommended through the report of a municipal Integrity Commissioner

We look forward to hearing more about how the government intends to respond to the sector’s ongoing request for government legislation at the upcoming AMO conference in August. 

Government Passes Bill 185, Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024  

Bill 185 received Royal Assent on June 6, bringing into force two key Bill 23 development charge reversals and Planning Act amendments. 

Provincial Cabinet Shuffle 

On June 6, the province announced its latest Cabinet shuffle. New Ministers were announced for Tourism, Culture, and Gaming; Sport; Farming, Agriculture, and Agribusiness; Long-Term Care; Energy and Electrification; Education; and more. Several ministry names were changed and new Associate Minister positions created. All recent changes are on an Ontario Newsroom article