Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
by Canada NewsWire on : June 1, 2004 09:51
Ontario moves forward on
OMB and land-use planning reforms
Government to engage public on changes to land-use planning system
June 1 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is moving to strengthen
Ontario's communities by talking to Ontarians about reforming
the Ontario Municipal Board and the land-use planning system,
Municipal Affairs and
Housing Minister John Gerretsen announced today. "Planning
reform is key to building strong communities and a prosperous
economy," Gerretsen said today at a breakfast meeting of
the Canadian Urban Institute. "We will seek the views of
the public on what reforms are needed to give our communities
the flexibility and tools they need to be strong, safe and livable."
The government took the first step toward implementing its comprehensive
vision for land-use planning reform in December 2003, when it
introduced Bill 26, the Strong Communities (Planning Amendment)
Act, 2004. The proposed act would boost local democracy and bring
greater accountability and transparency to land-use planning by
putting planning decisions back in the hands of municipalities.
"The introduction of Bill 26 was a major step to planning
reform," said Ann Mulvale, President of the Association of
Municipalities of Ontario. "We support the government's intent
to review other elements of land-use planning -
- this is long overdue."
Today's announcement represents the next major step toward fulfilling
the government's commitment to reforming the Ontario Municipal
Board (OMB). The government will seek public input on the OMB,
including its mandate and
accountability, how the OMB can be made more accessible to the
public and board members' qualifications and length of tenure.
The government is also consulting on the Planning Act and the
revised draft Provincial Policy Statement, which sets out the
province's overall vision of growth and priorities for land-use.
Public information sessions will be held across the province during
the months of June and July. The first session takes place on
June 8 in Windsor. Planning reform is an important component of
the government's plan to
promote managed growth, sustainable development, a strong economy
and a healthy environment.
"Well-planned communities will help enhance Ontario's reputation
as a preferred location for business and will ensure this province's
economy continues to grow and prosper long into the future,"
said Minister of Economic
Development and Trade Joseph Cordiano.
"We're committed to showing leadership by planning ahead
for the right kind of growth in the right places," said Minister
of Public Infrastructure Renewal David Caplan. "The way we
live tomorrow will depend on how we plan and
"We are taking action on the priorities that will lead to
a higher quality of life in our cities, towns and rural communities,"
said Minister Gerretsen. "Ontario's success depends on building
strong communities, a robust
economy and a healthy environment."
ENGAGING THE PUBLIC IN REFORMS TO LAND-USE
PLANNING IN ONTARIO
The McGuinty government is taking the next step in its change
agenda to sustain well-managed, planned growth and build strong
A series of public information sessions will be held in major
centres across Ontario to get input from the public and key groups
with interests in la nd-use planning on the government's planning
The public is being invited to provide input on the role of the
Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in the land-use planning system;
the revised Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), which is the government's
statement of its land-use
priorities; what changes are required to the Planning Act; and
implementation tools that people feel are needed to facilitate
better planning and strong communities in Ontario.
Reforms to the planning system will complement a number of concurrent
government priorities, including dealing with gridlock, protecting
the environment, preserving greenspace and heritage resources,
sprawl and sustaining a strong economy.
Public Information Sessions on Planning
June 8 - Windsor June 29 - Kingston
June 10 - Vaughan July 6 - London
June 15 - Toronto Downtown July 8 - Thunder Bay
June 16 - Toronto East July 12 - Ottawa
June 17 - Toronto West July 13 - Oakville
June 22 - Hamilton/Niagara July 15 - Sudbury
June 24 - Pickering
An information package including three consultation discussion
documents is available at www.planningreform.ontario.ca,
or on request by calling the toll-free line, 1-866-751-8082, or
(416) 645-8082 in Toronto. Information will also be distributed
during the public information sessions to give people the
opportunity to provide comments and share their views on how Ontario's
communities should grow and prosper.
Planning Act Reform (Bill 26)
The Planning Act sets out the ground rules for land-use planning
in Ontario, describes how land uses may be controlled and identifies
provincial interests in land-use planning.
Phase One of Planning Act reform began in December 2003 with the
introduction of Bill 26, the Strong Communities (Planning Amendment)
Bill 26 proposes the first step toward OMB reform. The bill would
enable municipalities, not the Ontario Municipal Board, to determine
their local boundaries; give municipalities more time to review
require that land-use planning decisions must "be consistent
with" the PPS--a stronger test than the existing "have
regard to" standard; and provide for the Minister of Municipal
Affairs and Housing to declare matters before the OMB to be of
Bill 26 was posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) website
for a 90-day comment period which ended on March 15, 2004.
Consultation on Bill 26 will focus on proposed reforms to the
Planning Act. It will also seek suggestions on what other changes
may be required to the Planning Act to make it more effective.
Ontario Municipal Board
The OMB is a specialized administrative tribunal of provincially
appointed members with province-wide decision-making authority
over municipal land-use planning. The board is established under
the Ontario Municipal Board
Act, which deals with a range of matters including appointments
to the board, its jurisdiction and general powers, and certain
rules regulating its practice and procedure.
When there are disputes involving land-use planning matters that
cannot be resolved, the Planning Act provides an appeal process.
The OMB provides the public forum to hear the appeal.
The role of the OMB within the land-use planning system as established
by authority under the Planning Act, is to resolve disputes involving
official plans, zoning bylaws, minor variances, subdivisions,
consents and site plan
Areas to be reviewed include:
- The qualifications of OMB members and their length of tenure
- The public's ability to participate in OMB hearings
- The OMB's mandate, which encompasses everything from the most
projects to backyard additions
- Accountability of the OMB to stand in the place of elected councils
Provincial Policy Statement Five-Year Review
The Provincial Policy Statement is a statement of the government's
land- use priorities and provides policy direction to municipalities,
the Ontario Municipal Board and other decisionmakers as they make
decisions affecting Ontario communities.
The proposed changes to the PPS would give municipal decision-makers
the framework to make wise decisions for better communities. For
example, the proposed changes would:
- Protect greenspace, by requiring municipalities to set targets
redevelopment, intensification and infill on lands that are already
developed - before any expansion onto farmlands and natural areas;
- Revitalize our communities by promoting the cleanup and redevelopment
- Reduce gridlock and traffic congestion, by direct ing development
areas already served by transit, and promoting transit-friendly
development that gives people the choice to get out of their cars;
- Encourage housing and jobs in close proximity, so that people
and work in the same neighbourhood;
- Recognize that healthy livable cities need urban greening -
parks, green roofs, for example - for better air quality;
- Preserve our valuable water resources, through stronger policies
guard our watersheds, our rivers and our lakes for future generations.
The PPS is issued under the authority of Section 3 of the Planning
Act. It provides policy direction on a wide range of matters such
as managing growth, using land efficiently, and protecting resources
such as prime
agricultural lands, water and significant natural features.
In making land-use planning decisions, all decision-makers are
required to "have regard to" the policies in the PPS.
The proposed Strong Communities (Planning Amendment) Act, 2004
(Bill 26) proposes to change this standard to
require that all land-use planning decisions "shall be consistent
with" the PPS.
The current PPS was issued in May 1996. The Planning Act requires
the PPS to be reviewed every five years. Staff of the Ministry
of Municipal Affairs and Housing and other provincial ministries
with interests in land-use
planning are responsible for the review.
Draft PPS policies are included in the consultation documents
for public review.
As the government moves forward with its proposed reforms to promote
more effective land-use planning, it is also looking for suggestions
and recommendations on planning-related tools that can assist
in meeting this
For example, the Planning Act now provides most municipalities
with the ability to prepare community improvement plans that encourage
redevelopment and/or rehabilitation improvements throughout their
implemented, the plan allows municipalities to make grants or
loans to assist in the rehabilitation of lands and buildings within
the community improvement project area. Such action encourages
urban revitalization, thus promoting urban intensification.
The consultation will ask the public what new or revised tools
would support better planning and strong communities in Ontario.
Disponible en français
For more information visit
information: Patti Munce, Minister's Office, (416) 585-6333;
Audrey Bennett, Provincial Planning and Environmental Services
ONTARIO MINISTRY OF MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS AND HOUSING