The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) has
completed its province-wide consultation, which looked at the way
development is planned and paid for. From October 2013 to January
2014, the Province consulted with the public, municipalities and
stakeholders on what changes were needed for the land use planning
and appeal system and the development charges system. The result of
this consultation is Bill 73 – the proposed Smart Growth
for Our Communities Act, 2015, which received its first
reading in the Legislature on March 5, 2015. Bill 73 will amend
both the Development Charges Act, 1997 and the
Planning Act, creating significant changes to the existing
planning framework. Some of the key changes are highlighted
Changes to the Planning Act
Decision and Appeal Deadlines: Currently, appeals
arising from an approval authority's failure to make a decision
in respect of all or part of an official plan (OP) may be made
after a period of 180 days. Bill 73 would allow for one 90-day
extension to that time period.
Parkland Dedication: The Planning Act allows
an approval authority to impose, as a condition of approval of a
residential plan of subdivision, that land be conveyed to the
municipality for park purposes or that that cash in lieu (CIL) of
parkland be provided. Currently, the rate of parkland
dedication/CIL for a residential development is 5% of the land area
or one hectare for each 300 dwelling units. Bill 73 would reduce
the rate for CIL to one hectare for each 500 dwelling units
proposed. Bill 73 also requires municipalities to disclose how they
spend money obtained through CIL of parkland (and section 37
agreements related to density bonusing).
Amendment Applications: Bill 73 will prohibit
applications to amend a new OP or comprehensive zoning by-law for a
period of two years after the plan or by-law comes into effect.
Minor Variance Applications: Bill 73 will prohibit any application
for minor variance from zoning by-law provisions that have been
amended in response to an application by an owner (or authorized
agent), for a period of two years following the passing of the
amendment. Subject to further consultation, Bill 73 will also
define what constitutes a minor variance.
Community Planning Permit System (CPPS): In our
July 2014 newsletter we highlighted the City of Toronto's
proposed Development Permit System (now renamed CPPS), which
establishes a new regulatory framework (replacing zoning by-laws)
through which development approvals are issued. Bill 73 will allow
municipalities to prohibit any applications to amend a community
planning permit by-law (which sets out development standards,
similar to a zoning by-law) for a period of five years after the
date of its passing.
Limiting Appeals: Bill 73 would remove the ability to
appeal certain OP matters to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)
including: 1) appeals of Council's entire decision to adopt all
of a new OP (a "global appeal"); 2) appeals of any part
of an OP that implements certain matters relating to vulnerable
areas under the Clean Water Act, Lake Simcoe watershed,
Greenbelt, Protected Countryside and specialty crop areas under the
Greenbelt Act, or the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan Area; 3)
population and employment Growth Plan forecasts; or 4) settlement
area boundaries in lower-tier OPs.
Disputes Resolution: Alternative Dispute Resolution
(ADR) techniques can be used by a municipal council in resolving
certain appeals (those related to OPs and OP amendments, zoning
by-law amendments, plans of subdivision and consents) locally and
avoiding a hearing at the OMB. When a municipality chooses to
engage in the ADR process, the deadline to forward appeals to the
OMB is extended from 15 to 75 days after the appeal period
Changes to the Development Charges Act
Funding Transportation: Currently, the calculation of
development charges to fund transit service is limited by the
10-year historic average service level and a 10% reduction in
service level increases. Bill 73 would eliminate these limitations,
thereby increasing the amount of capital costs that municipalities
can recover for transit services.
Area-specific Development Charge ("DC"): Bill
73 allows councils to pass different DC by-laws for specific parts
of the municipality which can fund specific services as
Voluntary Payments: Bill 73 would see the DC Act
perform as a legal code, enforceable by the MMAH, with respect to
restricting the use of voluntary payments which are not authorized
under the DC Act.
Transparency and a Long-Term Strategy: Bill 73 will
require municipalities to publicly disclose how money obtained from
DCs is spent on an annual basis. Municipalities are also required
to prepare asset management plans which link the use of DCs to
their long-term funding strategies.
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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