The goals of the Bill 73 Planning Act amendments include
enhancing citizen engagement, resolving planning disputes locally,
and protecting and promoting green spaces.
For those concerned with environmental planning matters, once
the Bill 73 amendments come into force, appeals to the Ontario
Municipal Board (OMB) of official plan designations related to
the following environmentally sensitive areas will
vulnerable areas as defined in the Clean Water Act, 2006
the Lake Simcoe watershed, as defined in the Lake Simcoe
Protection Act, 2008
The Greenbelt Area or Protected Countryside, as defined in the
Greenbelt Act, or within the boundary of a special crop area
designated by the Greenbelt Plan
the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan Area, as defined by
the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan
In addition, the forecasted population and employment growth set
out in the official plan cannot be appealed in certain
Settlement Area designations (i.e. expansions to the urban
boundary), also cannot be appealed where the official plan of a
lower-tier municipality makes the amendment to reflect an approved
boundary set out in the upper-tier municipal official plan.
Regarding improving citizen engagement, approval
authorities are now expressly required to "have regard
to" written and oral submissions by the public for planning
proposals when making decisions. While it is arguable that this was
required under the existing legislation, the amendment now makes it
clear that public submissions must be considered by municipal
councils and by the OMB.
One other change is to the requirements in appeal notices
themselves. While likely "de rigueur" for
developers who appeal planning decisions, citizens may find
themselves caught off guard if they make an appeal that fails
to provide the necessary specificity. When appeals for
official plans or zoning by-laws are made, appellants must specify
in what way the appealed official plan, upper-tier official plan or
by-law is inconsistent with provincial policy statements. If they
do not, appellants may be at risk of a dismissal of their appeal by
For citizens, it is often difficult to participate effectively
because the opinion of planners and other experts
almost exclusively govern at the OMB. These changes do not
really address that particular issue, and in fact entrench the
requirement for expert help at the appeal notice
stage. Citizens involved in these issues will need
to engage planning experts and legal advice well before a
decision is made, and minimally at the time of filing an appeal
You can see all upcoming amendments to the Planning Act, on
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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