Exciting Spring for Smart Growth

It’s been a busy spring for smart growth in Ontario. In the next few weeks, we’ll share some more detailed thoughts about everything that’s been happening and where the province is headed next. For now, we wanted to let you know about two of the major sets of changes that have happened over the last few months:

1) Ontario Municipal Board Reform: In May, the province announced enormous changes to the land use planning appeal process in Ontario. The most substantial change is that the province is replacing the Ontario Municipal Board with a new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, which will be limited to deciding whether a municipal council has followed local and provincial planning policies. Changes also include new support for members of the public to participate in appeals, and procedural changes to streamline the appeal process.

The provincial review was in response to significant concerns from municipalities and community members about the operation of the Ontario Municipal Board, including from Waterloo Region. A bill implementing the proposed changes is currently working its way through the Ontario legislature.

For a look back at the Ontario Municipal Board, see the recent book by Peter Howden, former OMB vice chair and Superior Court justice, entitled The Ontario Municipal Board: From Impact to Subsistence 1971-2016.

2) Changes to the Greenbelt Plan and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe: The province has also been conducting a Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review, which examined the Greenbelt Plan, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Niagara Escarpment Plan, and the Oak Ridges Moraine Plan.

The government released the updated versions of the plans on May 18th, and regulations enacting changes to the Greenbelt Plan and Growth Plan went into effect on July 1. And if you’re excited about all the technical details, you can see Part 1 and Part 2 of a webinar of the province’s technical briefing from June.

Over the coming months, we’ll be talking more about what these changes mean, and how all of it is playing out.