Our last two updates outlined the proposed amendments to the Planning Act and the Ontario Municipal Board under Bill 139.

Today, Bill 139 received Royal Assent and came into force as the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017.

While the Act itself came into force today, the Schedules to the Act (which contain the legislative amendments) come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor. There is currently no firm date for proclamation. Indications from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is that proclamation will occur once the rules and regulations applicable to the new Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (the “LPAT”, which replaces the Ontario Municipal Board (“OMB”)) are finalized. A recent Ministry press release anticipates that this exercise will be completed in “spring 2018”.

A key issue will be the transition between the current planning appeals system under the jurisdiction of the OMB to the new planning appeals system under the jurisdiction of the LPAT. Last week, the Province posted a summary of its proposed transition regulations on the Environmental Registry and commenced a 45-day public comment period. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of the Attorney General also issued a helpful statement on transition.

Assuming the transition regulation is ultimately issued as proposed, and based on the joint-Ministry statement on transition, the following is offered by Aird & Berlis LLP’s Municipal & Land Use Planning Group as a simplified summary:

For Planning Act applications:

  • If you have appealed to the OMB before today, your appeal will stay at the OMB.
  • If you have filed a complete application before today and you file an appeal before proclamation, your appeal will stay at the OMB.
  • If you file a complete application from this point forward, your appeal will go to the LPAT after proclamation.
  • If you file any appeals after proclamation (decisions or non-decisions), your appeal will go to the LPAT.

The following restrictions will apply where a decision on the relevant instrument is issued after proclamation:

  • No appeals of Ministerial Zoning Orders.
  • No ability to appeal an Interim Control By-law (ICBL) for one year.
  • No ability to apply to amend an approved Secondary Plan.

With respect to appeal and approval timelines:

  • The extended appeal timelines (210 days for OPAs; 150 days for ZBAs; 210 days for a combined OPA/ZBA) will apply to complete applications filed from this point forward.
  • The approval authority’s timeline in which to approve an adopted OP/OPA is 210 days from this point forward.

Municipal authorities, ratepayer groups, consultants and landowners with questions about Bill 139 and the proposed transition from the OMB to the LPAT are encouraged to speak directly with a member of our Municipal & Land Use Planning Group. We can help simplify what promises to be a complex and at times unclear process of transition.