On March 5, 2015, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing introduced Bill 73, Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, 2015, to reform the Planning Act and the Development Charges Act with the aim to give citizens a greater say in how their communities will grow and give municipalities more tools to fund community services.

The proposed amendments to the Planning Act would:

  • Allow municipalities to create a "community planning permit system" to encourage public participation and which, once established, would not be subject to any appeals of private applications for five years;
  • Require municipalities to set out in its official plans how and when the public will be consulted on land use planning matters and to explain how public input affected its planning decisions;
  • Extend the review of new municipal official plans to ten years, instead of the current five-year cycle; #
  • Once a municipality establishes a new official plan, prevent new appeals to the official plan for two years unless amendments are initiated by the municipality;
  • Define what constitutes a minor variance;
  • Provide an option to municipalities to have an additional 90 days to resolve issues involving official plans and official plan amendments;
  • Provide municipalities with an additional 60 days to engage in alternative dispute resolution to resolve appeals prior to forwarding the matter to the Ontario Municipal Board; and
  • Remove the ability to appeal certain matters to the Ontario Municipal Board.

The proposed amendments to the Development Charges Act would:

  • Increase the amount of capital costs that municipalities can recover for transit services;
  • Allow municipalities to recover capital costs for waste diversion;
  • Require municipalities to follow reporting requirements to detail how funds from development charges and Section 37 contributions are spent;
  • Require development charges to be payable at the time of issuance of the first building permit; and #
  • Require municipalities to better integrate how development charges fit with long-term planning, including local asset management plans.

The Ministry also proposes to establish a stakeholder working group to provide advice on the implementation of the proposed amendments. Stikeman Elliott will be keeping a close eye on the proposed amendments to Planning Act and Development Charges Act going forward.

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