Bill 185 - Cutting (More) Red Tape to Build More Homes

On April 10, 2024, the Ontario government introduced the Bill 185, the Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, which focuses on speeding up government processes to build at least 1.5 million homes by 2031. An announcement from the provincial government and background information regarding Bill 185 can be found on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs website. Notice for Bill 185 has been posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

Bill 185 proposes amendments to a number of different statutes, including the Planning Act, City of Toronto Act, 2006, and the Development Charges Act. Below, we outline some of the most significant proposed amendments to the Planning Act.

In addition, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is seeking feedback on an updated proposed Provincial Planning Statement. The comment period for the proposal is open until May 10, 2024 and is found on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

Third Party Appeals at the Ontario Land Tribunal

Bill 185 proposes to limit third party appeal rights in connection with official plans, official plan amendments, zoning by-laws, and zoning by-law amendments.

Whereas currently persons or public bodies who made submissions prior to the adoption or enactment of the instrument could appeal the Council decision to the Tribunal, appeal rights are proposed to be restricted to the applicant, specified persons (defined to include a list of utility companies etc.) or public bodies (defined to include government bodies of various sorts) that made submissions prior to the adoption or enactment of the instrument, the Minister, and the approval authority.

Third party appeals filed prior to the new legislation taking effect will be dismissed unless:

  • a hearing on the merits of the appeal has been scheduled before April 10, 2024; or
  • a notice of appeal was filed by a permitted person or public body in respect of the same plan or zoning by-law decision to which the appeal relates.

A hearing on the merits of an appeal does not include mediation, settlement negotiations, a case management conference or any other step in the appeal that precedes a hearing.

Fee Refunds

Bill 185 proposes to repeal provisions requiring municipalities to refund fees for zoning by-law amendment and site plan control applications.

Multi-Unit Regulations

Bill 185 proposes to give the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing new authority to create regulations regarding requirements and standards for multi-unit residential developments (i.e. residential unit in a detached house, semi-detached house or rowhouse, etc)

Settlement Boundary Changes

Bill 185 proposes to permit an appeal to the Tribunal if a municipality refuses or fails to make a decision on a privately requested official plan or zoning by-law amendment that seeks to alter the boundary of an “area of settlement” located outside the Greenbelt Area.

Upper-Tier Planning Responsibilities

Bill 185 proposes that the Regional Municipalities of Peel, Halton, and York become “upper-tier municipalities without planning responsibilities” effective July 1, 2024. The other upper-tier municipalities that are proposed to be without planning responsibilities (Durham, Niagara, and Waterloo Regions and Simcoe County) will be effective as such on a date to be named by proclamation.

Once in effect, the regional municipality's planning policy and approval responsibilities will be removed, and the lower-tier municipalities will take on primary responsibility for all planning within their areas except for matters requiring provincial approval.

Parking Standards

Bill 185 proposes to limit the ability of municipalities to impose minimum parking space requirements, in either its official plan or zoning by-laws, for developments in specified areas surrounding major transit stations, including Protected Major Transit Station Areas and similar high-density zones near subway, rail, and rapid bus stations.

Pre-Application Consultation Process

Bill 185 proposes to eliminate the ability of municipalities to require, by by-law, pre-application consultations, making it optional at the applicant's discretion. In addition, it proposes to add the ability to file a motion with the Tribunal at any point during pre-applications consultation to determine the reasonableness of, or fulfillment of, the requirements for a complete application.

Exempt Universities from the Planning Act

Bill 185 proposes to exempt undertakings of publicly assisted universities from the Planning Act and planning provisions of the City of Toronto Act, 2006, the purpose of which appears to be to get university-led student housing built faster. 

“Use It or Lose It” Tools

Bill 185 proposes to enable the authorized person within a municipality to impose a lapsing condition within a specified timeframe when approving a new site plan control application. The duration of this timeframe will be defined by regulation, with a default minimum of three years in cases where no specific regulation applies to the development.

Approval authorities will also be required to impose a lapsing condition for all draft plans of subdivision, with specific timeframes to be established by regulation. If a draft plan of subdivision was approved on or before March 27, 1995, it will lapse within three years of the enactment of Bill 185.

Bill 185 also proposes to allow municipalities to, by by-law, establish policies to formalize the management of water and sewage servicing for approved developments through the Municipal Act, 2001. This tool would enable the allocation or reallocation of servicing capacity to other projects if the approved development does not proceed within a specified timeline and the servicing is required elsewhere in the service area.  Section 70.3 of the Planning Act regarding sewage and water services is repealed.

Next Steps

Wood Bull will monitor and assess the ongoing legislative amendments and will share updates on significant developments. In the meantime, should you have any questions about Bill 185 or need assistance in submitting comments to the Ministry, please contact Johanna Shapira or Kim Mullin