Streamlining Land Use Planning and Appeals in Ontario
The government intends to introduce legislative amendments to the Planning Act that would, if passed, give residents more say in how their communities grow, set out clearer rules for land use planning, give municipalities more independence to make local decisions and make it easier to resolve disputes.
A formal public review of the land use planning and appeal system took place between October 2013 and January 2014. Throughout this review the Province received more than 1,200 submissions. The proposed changes respond to the concerns heard during the review.
Some of the proposed changes and related initiatives would, if passed:
Give residents a greater, more meaningful say in how their communities grow by:
- Giving municipalities and community groups an enhanced tool, called the community planning permit system, to encourage an innovative way to plan and address local needs. The development of the community permit planning system would include residents and other stakeholders.
- Making sure residents are involved at the beginning of the planning process and have a say in the future of their communities. Municipalities would need to set out in their official plans how and when the public would be consulted, and would also need to explain how public input affected their planning decisions.
- Including citizen representatives in municipal planning advisory committees so council can benefit from their views.
Make the planning and appeals process more predictable by:
- Requiring reviews of new, comprehensive municipal official plans every 10 years, instead of the current five-year cycle.
- Providing municipalities with more control and stability over their planning documents. Once a municipality establishes a new official plan, it would be frozen and therefore not subject to new appeals for two years unless changes are initiated by the municipality. A community planning permit system once established by a municipality would not be subject to any appeals of private applications for five years.
- Clearly defining what constitutes a minor variance (a small change from a zoning bylaw).
Give municipalities more independence and make it easier to resolve disputes by
- Providing an option for an additional 90 days to resolve issues involving official plans and amendments.
- Allowing more opportunities to resolve disputes locally to make it easier and more efficient to resolve disputes without going before the Ontario Municipal Board. For example, municipalities would be allowed time to engage in alternative dispute resolution. And the ability to appeal some items would be removed.
In addition to the proposed changes, the government would establish a stakeholder working group to provide advice on implementing the community planning permit system. The group would also provide recommendations on what makes up a minor variance and when local appeal bodies could be used for land use planning issues.