This paper was delivered at the Ontario Bar
Association's 2015 Annual Institute Program – Municipal
and Planning Law (Changing Landscapes in Municipal and Planning
In the modern urban environment, parks and public recreational
facilities are things that can be both greatly appreciated and
taken for granted. We might all agree that parks are inherently a
'good thing' for ensuring the health, well-being and
vibrancy of our communities and the people who live and work there;
however, where there is often widespread disagreement and
controversy is on the more concrete issues of how and where we plan
for parks, and who pays for them.
These issues are of increasing importance in an economic and
policy environment of scarce public resources and high costs for
land and services in the modern land use planning and development
context. It therefore comes as no surprise that in the post-Growth
Plan era, parkland dedication has become a focal point for
discussion and debate among the development industry, public sector
bodies such as municipalities and the Province, and the Ontario
Municipal Board ("OMB" or "Board").
The purposes of this paper are: (1) to explore the statutory and
policy framework for the provision of parks and public recreational
facilities as part of the development approval process in Ontario;
(2) to discuss the issues that have arisen in the forefront of the
discussion and debate about the provision of parkland or
cash-in-lieu of parkland as a condition of development approval;
and (3) to examine, as a case study, the adjudicative response from
the OMB in its recent decisions involving the Town of Richmond Hill
Official Plan and its implications for future policy decisions on
The author gratefully acknowledges the contributions made by
Tracey Steele, Manager of Parks Planning & Natural Heritage,
Town of Richmond Hill, as well as the comments provided by Kim
Mullin, Partner, WeirFoulds LLP. Any errors or omissions are, of
course, the author's alone.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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