The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced on May 2, 2019, that the most significant and disruptive of the 2017 legislative changes to Ontario's land use planning appeal process are being repealed.
The government announcement, contained in its "Housing Supply Action Plan" (the "Plan"), signals that the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (the re-named Ontario Municipal Board) will once again have the authority to make final binding decisions on appeals of official plans, official plan amendments, zoning by-laws and zoning by-law amendments. Under the 2017 changes in Bill 139, a successful first appeal of any of these planning instruments simply returned the decision to the municipal council for reconsideration.
The Plan also indicates that legislation will be introduced to restore the procedural due process rights that were revoked by Bill 139. This includes the right to introduce expert evidence and to call and examine witnesses at hearings.
Complimentary amendments will also be brought to various related pieces of legislation, including, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal Act, 2007, the Development Charges Act, 1997, and the Ontario Heritage Act.
The stated goal of the changes is to reduce the time and expense of bringing new housing to market and to make housing more affordable. A complete evaluation of these legislative amendments, and whether or not they will have the intended effect, will require a careful reading of Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019.
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