In March 2015, we reported on the Province's first reading
of Bill 73 – Smart Growth for Our Communities Act,
2015 – and some of its key changes to the Planning
Act and the Development Charges Act, 1997. On July 1,
2016, a number of the Bill 73 amendments will come into force. The
following is a summary of the changes to the Planning Act which you
should look out for:
Decision and Appeal Deadlines:
Before Bill 73, an applicant for an official plan (OP) amendment
could appeal from the municipality's failure to make a decision
180 days after the application was complete. Under the changes, the
municipality or approval authority may extend that 180-day time
period by 90 days.
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 cash-in-lieu
(CIL) be paid at the rate of 5% of the land area or an alternative
rate of one hectare for each 300 units. The alternative rate of CIL
for residential development has been reduced to one hectare for
each 500 dwelling units. 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 has placed a two-year freeze on any application to amend a new
OP or comprehensive zoning by-law from the time the plan or bylaw
comes into effect.
Minor Variance Applications:
Bill 73 has placed another two-year freeze on any application for
minor variance from zoning by-law provisions that have been amended
in response to an application by an owner, commencing on the
passing of the zoning amendment. Subject to further consultation,
Bill 73 will also define what constitutes a minor variance.
Tests for Minor Variance: In
addition to the four tests of a minor variance, Bill 73 now
requires that committees of adjustment also be satisfied that the
variance sought conforms as well with criteria to be prescribed by
regulation or by a local municipal by-law. This now allows
municipalities to effectively create localized minor variance
Minor Variance Decisions: Bill
73 has increased the amount of information/level of detail now
required to be set out in written decisions of a committee of
adjustment in respect of a minor variance. Now, in addition to the
reasons for a decision, an explanation must be given of the effect
that public submissions (oral or written) had on the decision to
approve or refuse the variance in question.
Limiting Appeals: Bill 73
limits the ability to appeal certain OP matters to the OMB,
appeals of Council's entire
decision to adopt all of a new OP (a "global
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
population and employment Growth Plan
settlement area boundaries in
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques can now be used by
a municipal council to resolve certain appeals (those related to
OPs and OP amendments, zoning by-law amendments, plans of
subdivision and consents) locally and thus avoid 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 expires.
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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