Provincial Government Reviewing Land-Use Planning and Development Charges Systems
The Province of Ontario is currently conducting two consultations that will have significant impacts on the new housing and land development industry in the province of Ontario. The Provincial Government is engaging stakeholders across the province through workshops to review Ontario’s land-use planning system and development charges regime.
The Province has been careful to point out that it is not seeking recommendations that would result in the following:
- Eliminating or overhauling the Planning Act
- Eliminating or changing the OMB’s operations, practices and procedures
- Removing or restricting the provincial government’s approval role and ability to intervene in planning matters
- Removing municipal flexibility in addressing local priorities
- Changing the “growth pays for growth” principle of development charge
- Education development charges and the development charges appeal system
- Creating additional fees and/or taxes
- Matters involving other legislation, unless minor housekeeping changes are needed.
Nonetheless, the review is ambitious in its desire to seek input and implement changes to improve Ontario’s land-use planning system, including what can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, and to increase accountability and transparency measures for development charges and other tools that exchange community benefits for increased density, such as parkland dedication and section 37 benefits (i.e., community infrastructure investments).
According to the Province, “the workshops will collect ideas from participants on making the land use planning and appeals system and the development charges system more effective to ensure they support local and provincial objectives while securing sustainable financing for new development. The goal is to ensure the systems are predictable, transparent, cost-effective and responsive to the changing needs of Ontario’s communities.”
The need for a review Ontario’s land-use planning system can in many ways be said to have been brought on largely by a greater shift towards intensification spurred by the Province’s Places to Grow and greenbelt policies. This is also true of the review of the development charges regime, where local municipalities speak of challenges of paying for infrastructure to accommodate the ever changing growth landscape, while the development industry argues that requirements to fund infrastructure costs that also benefit the existing population base have significant negative impacts on affordability for new home buyers.
The workshops are currently scheduled to be held through January, 2014. For more information, please see the Provincial Government’s website.
By: Daniel Steinberg