The ruling on a case brought forward by Ontario Nature, Earth Roots and others determined the Ontario Government’s changes to the Planning Act were done without sufficient public consultation and this violated the Environmental Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, the consequences are largely symbolic — demonstrating the need for stronger environmental laws in the province.
The Ontario government is inviting comments concerning changes to certain legislative provisions in the Planning Act now in force with the enactment of Bill 197, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 that enable the Minister to address site plan matters and apply inclusionary zoning as part of a zoning order.
There has been much discussion and outcry over the increased use of Minister’s Zoning Orders to override local planning bodies and conservation authorities in order to push projects through. MZOs had previously only been used rarely – and only in cases where the public good was a major consideration.
The recently enacted legislative changes to the Planning Act enhance the Minister’s authority for zoning orders across the province. This enhanced authority does not apply to lands within the Greenbelt Area. The enhanced authority allows the Minister to:
- require affordable housing (inclusionary zoning),
- remove municipal use of site plan control and require agreements between the municipality and development proponent (or landowner) concerning site plan matters, and;
- make amendments to Minister’s Zoning Orders that use any of these enhanced authorities without first giving public notice.
Read the full explanation of the enhanced authority as part of Minister’s Zoning Orders. (Environment Registry of Ontario). Comments can be submitted until January 30, 2021.