The Wood Bull Guides

Introduction to the Bill 139 Amendments to the Planning Act

The Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017, S.O. 2017, c. 23

Bill 139, the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017, which received First Reading on May 27, 2017, introduced sweeping changes to the land use planning approvals process in Ontario, including significant amendments to the Planning Act in particular in regard to official plan and zoning approvals and the replacement of the Ontario Municipal Board Act with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal Act, 2017.

Bill 139 received Third Reading and Royal Assent on December 12 , 2017 and came into force on April 3, 2018, by proclamation.

Highlights of the Bill 139 Amendments to the Planning Act

The following is taken from the Explanatory Note for Schedule 3 of Bill 139.  We have inserted hyperlinks to relevant sections of the Wood Bull Guide to the Planning Act, where we have provided our annotations.

  • The definition of “provincial plan” in subsection 1 (1) of the Planning Act is amended to include certain policies referred to in the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008, the Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015 and the Clean Water Act, 2006.

  • Section 2.1 of the Planning Act currently requires approval authorities and the Ontario Municipal Board, when they make decisions relating to planning matters, to “have regard to” decisions of municipal councils and approval authorities relating to the same planning matter, and to any supporting information and material that was before a municipal council or approval authority relating to the same planning matter. The section is amended to limit its application to specified planning matters relating to official plans, zoning by-laws, interim control by-laws, site plan control, plans of subdivision and consents.

  • Section 3 of the Planning Act currently governs the issuance of policy statements on matters relating to municipal planning. The section is amended to authorize policy statements to require approvals or determinations by one or more ministers for any of the matters provided for in the policy statement. The section is also amended to deem policy statements issued under 2 the Metrolinx Act, 2006, the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 and other prescribed policies or statements to be policy statements issued under section 3 of the Planning Act.

  • Section 8.1 of the Planning Act currently provides for the establishment of a local appeal body which can deal with appeals of certain planning matters. Amendments are made to expand those matters to include appeals and motions for directions related to site plan control and motions for directions related to consents. Amendments are also made to the transitional rules associated with the empowerment of local appeal bodies. Similar amendments are made to section 115 of the City of Toronto Act, 2006.

  • Section 16 of the Planning Act currently governs the content of official plans. A new clause 16 (1) (a.1) requires official plans to contain policies relating to affordable housing and a new subsection 16 (14) requires official plans to contain policies relating to climate change. The section is also amended to allow official plans to include policies relating to development around higher order transit stations and stops. These policies would require approval by an approval authority. Decisions on these policies cannot be appealed except by the Minister and requests to amend the policies can only be made with council approval (see subsections 17 (36.1.4) to (36.1.7) and 22 (2.1.3)). When these policies are in place, zoning by-laws that establish permitted uses, minimum and maximum densities and, except in certain circumstances, minimum and maximum heights cannot be appealed except by the Minister (see subsections 34 (19.5) to (19.8)).

  • New subsections 17 (24.0.1) and (36.0.1) of the Planning Act provide that an appeal concerning the adoption or approval of an official plan is restricted to issues of consistency or conformity with provincial plans and policy statements and, as applicable, conformity with official plan policies of upper-tier municipalities.

  • New subsections 17 (49.1) to (49.12)  provide rules concerning the Tribunal’s powers in connection with such appeals. The authority of the Tribunal to allow such appeals is limited, but where an appeal is allowed, the municipality has a second opportunity to make a decision. If that decision is appealed and the Tribunal again determines that it did not meet the new standard of review, the Tribunal would make another decision. Special rules are provided for certain circumstances where a revised plan is presented to the Tribunal on consent of specified parties.

  • Similar amendments are made to section 22 with respect to appeals of refusals and non-decisions on requests to amend official plans and to section 34 with respect to appeals related to zoning by-laws. In the case of appeals of refusals and non-decisions on applications to amend zoning by-laws, the new subsection 34 (26.13) provides that these appeals shall not be dismissed on the basis of the existing subsection 24 (4) of the Act.

  • Certain rules in section 17, as they read before being amended by the Schedule, are incorporated by reference in section 28 for the purposes of the process, including the appeal process, related to community improvement plans. Similarly, certain rules in section 34, as they read before being amended by the Schedule, are incorporated by reference in sections 38 and 45 for the purposes of the process, including the appeal process, related to interim control by-laws and by-laws establishing municipal criteria for minor variances.

  • Currently, subsections 17 (51), 22 (11.1) and 34 (27) of the Planning Act allow the Minister to advise the Ontario Municipal Board that a matter of provincial interest is, or is likely to be, adversely affected by an official plan or zoning matter appealed to the Board. When the Minister so advises the Board, its decision is not final unless confirmed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Currently the Minister must advise the Board not later than 30 days before the hearing of the matter. Amendments are made to require the Minister to advise the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal not later than 30 days after the Tribunal gives notice of a hearing. When the Tribunal is so advised by the Minister, the new limits to the Tribunal’s powers on appeal described in the above paragraph would not apply; however, the Tribunal’s decision would not be final unless confirmed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

  • New subsections 17 (36.5) and 21 (3) of the Planning Act provide that there is no appeal in respect of an official plan or an official plan amendment adopted in accordance with section 26, if the approval authority is the Minister.

  • In circumstances where no person or public body has a right of appeal in relation to a decision on an official plan, new subsections 17 (27.1) and (38.1) provide for the plan to come into effect on the day after the decision.

  • Timelines for making decisions related to official plans and zoning by-laws are extended by 30 days (see amendments to sections 17, 22, 34 and 36 of the Planning Act). For applications to amend zoning by-laws submitted concurrently with requests to amend a local municipality’s official plans, the timeline is extended to 210 days (see subsection 34 (11.0.0.0.1)).

  • A new subsection 22 (2.1.1) of the Planning Act provides that during the two-year period following the adoption of a new secondary plan, applications for amendment are permitted only with council approval. Subsection 22 (2.1.2) describes a secondary plan as a part of an official plan added by amendment that provides more detailed policies and land use designations applicable to part of a municipality.

  • Currently, subsection 22 (11) of the Planning Act incorporates by reference various rules from section 17 concerning appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board. Amendments are made to remove the incorporation by reference and to add those rules as new subsections 22 (11) to (11.0.7), with the corresponding changes that are made to the rules in section 17.

  • Currently, under subsection 38 (4) of the Planning Act, anyone who is given notice of the passing of an interim control by- law may appeal the by-law within 60 days after the by-law is passed. Amendments are made to allow only the Minister to appeal an interim control by-law when it is first passed. Any person or public body who is given notice of the extension of the by-law can appeal the extension.

  • Section 41 of the Planning Act is amended to make technical changes relating to appeals to the Tribunal concerning site plan control, including a requirement that the clerk forward specified things shortly after the notice of appeal is filed.

  • Subsection 41 (16) of the Planning Act currently provides that section 41 does not apply to the City of Toronto, except for certain subsections. Subsection 14 (16) is amended to remove the references to those excepted subsections. Section 114 of the City of Toronto Act, 2006 is amended to reflect the rules that were contained in those excepted subsections iii

  • Currently, under section 47 of the Planning Act, the Minister may make orders exercising zoning powers or deeming plans of subdivision not to be registered for the purposes of section 50. The rules governing amendments and revocations of such orders are amended. The Minister may refer a request from a person or public body to amend or revoke an order to the Tribunal. If the Tribunal conducts a hearing, the Tribunal must make a written recommendation to the Minister. The Minister may decide to amend or revoke the order and must forward a copy of his or her decision to the specified persons. A new rule also provides that a proponent of an undertaking shall not give notice under the Consolidated Hearings Act in respect of a request to amend a Minister’s order unless Minister has referred the matter to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. A similar rule is added to section 6 of the Ontario Planning and Development Act, 1994, which governs the process for amending development plans.

  • Subsection 51 (52.4) of the Planning Act currently allows the Ontario Municipal Board to consider whether information and material that is presented at a hearing of certain appeals related to plans of subdivision and was not provided to the approval authority could have materially affected the approval authority’s decision. If the Board determines that it could have done so, the Board is required to give the approval authority an opportunity to reconsider its decision. The subsection is repealed and replaced to prevent information and material that was not provided to the approval authority in the first instance from being admitted into evidence if the approval authority requests to be given an opportunity to reconsider its decision and to make a written recommendation.

  • New section 70.8 of the Planning Act authorizes the Minister to make regulations providing for transitional matters. Various technical amendments are also made to the Planning Act.

  • Subsection 70.8 (2.1) sets out additional regulation-making authority that applies where a transitional regulation provides for a matter or proceeding to be continued and disposed of in accordance with the Act as it read on the effective date, as defined in the regulations, where a notice of appeal is filed after the day the Bill receives Royal Assent but before the effective date.

  • Subsections 70.8 (5) to (11) set out various immunity provisions relating to anything done under section 70.8.

 


Bill 139 received Royal Assent on 12 December 2017, and came into force on 3 April 2018, the day named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor. 

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Note: Material on the Wood Bull website is intended as general information and commentary.  Please consult the e-Laws website for the legislation.  In order to make these Wood Bull Guides useful resources, we welcome any comments and suggestions.  

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