The province is currently moving to pass Bill 139, which will significantly amend planning law in Ontario, most notably by transforming the Ontario Municipal Board into the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) and significantly curtailing its powers. While Bill 139 is wide-ranging, the most significant changes that will be introduced include:
- Effective elimination of de novo hearings – the Tribunal’s authority to overturn municipal decisions relating to official plans, by-laws and plans of subdivision will be restricted to situations in which the decision does not conform to or is inconsistent with provincial policies or applicable official plans;
- Introduction of a two-step appeal process, including mandatory case management;
- Interim control by-laws will only be appealable by the Minister (though extensions will remain appealable);
- Municipalities will be empowered to designate “protected major transit station areas” – zoning by-laws that establish permitted heights or densities in these areas will not be appealable, except by the Minister; and
- The establishment of the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre with a mandate of supporting eligible Ontarians in navigating the land use planning appeal process.
Third reading for Bill 139 is likely to occur by the end of November, with Royal Assent to follow shortly thereafter. Recent amendments to the Bill suggest that the transition provisions may well eliminate any appeals filed after Royal Assent. We therefore recommend that any clients currently considering appealing to the OMB should be encouraged to do so as soon as possible.