On March 30, 2022, the provincial government introduced Bill 109, the More Homes for Everyone Act, 2022. Bill 109 proposes several amendments to existing legislation, including the Planning Act, the Development Charges Act, 1997, the City of Toronto Act, 2006, the New Home Construction Licensing Act, 2017 and the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act.
As is evident from its title, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (the “Minister”) has indicated that the purpose of Bill 109 is to increase housing supply and choice for families and individuals across the province. According to the government, Bill 109 is an attempt to implement some of the Housing Affordability Task Force’s recommendations, outlined in a report released in February this year.
Planning Act Changes
Notable amendments proposed to the Planning Act include:
- Requiring municipalities to provide refunds for zoning by-law amendment and site plan application fees where no decision is made during the statutory timeframe;
- The introduction of a new ministerial zoning tool – referred to by the Minister as the Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator (“CIHA”);
- An established review process for community benefit charge (“CBC”) by-laws;
- Amendments to parkland requirements on lands designated as Transit-Oriented Communities (“TOC”);
- Empowering the Minister with new powers regarding certain official plan amendments (“OPAs”) and new official plans; and
- Empowering the Minister to make regulations for the use of surety bonds as security for conditions imposed by a municipality on planning approvals.
Each proposed change is discussed further below.
Application Fee Refunds
The proposed changes to the approval process for zoning by-law amendment and site plan applications would require municipalities to refund application fees on a graduated basis (i.e. 50%, 75% or 100% depending on the number of days following the application) if a decision is not made within the legislative timelines. This change would apply to applications made on or after January 1, 2023.
The stated intent of this change is to “incentivize municipalities to make timely decisions”.
Site Plan Control
Changes are proposed to both the Planning Act and the City of Toronto Act, 2006 that would require municipal councils to delegate site plan control decisions to staff (i.e. an officer, employee or agent of the municipality). This would apply to all applications received after July 1, 2022.
The proposed changes would also extend the site plan application review timeline from 30 days to 60 days. This means that an applicant can only appeal a municipality’s failure to approve their site plan application to the Ontario Land Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) beginning 60 days after the application was submitted (rather than 30 days).
Last, changes propose to establish complete application requirements for site plan applications, similar to current complete application requirements for other types of applications under the Planning Act, with recourse if the application has not been deemed complete within 30 days of acceptance by the municipality.
Plans of Subdivision
The proposed changes would establish a regulation-making authority to determine what cannot be required as a condition of draft plan approval.
In addition, the changes propose to establish a discretionary authority to allow municipalities to reinstate draft plans of subdivision that have lapsed within the past five years without a new application (provided no agreement had been entered into for the sale of any land by a description in accordance with the draft approved plan of subdivision).
A new section to the Planning Act is proposed to be added, which would create an additional type of Minister’s order notwithstanding that the Ministerial Zoning Order (“MZO”) under s. 47 of the Planning Act still exists. The Minister has indicated that the s. 47 MZOs will instead be reserved for provincially significant infrastructure projects like the TOC program.
The proposed CIHA tool would permit the Minister to make a zoning order at the request of the municipality, by council resolution.
The Council’s resolution must:
- Identify the lands to which the order would apply; and
- Identify the manner the municipality’s powers would be exercised with respect to the lands.
The inclusion of a draft by-law in the resolution would be deemed to satisfy these requirements. However, before passing such a resolution, the municipality must give notice to the public and consult with persons, public bodies and communities as the municipality considers appropriate. Within 15 days after Council passes the resolution, the municipality shall forward the resolution to the Minister, where it may make an order under s. 34 of the Planning Act or by way of a development permit by-law.
An order may not be made in respect of any land in the Greenbelt area. However, the order does not have to be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 nor does it have to conform, or not conflict, as the case may be, with provincial plans or official plans.
The Minister may also impose conditions on such an order, and it would prevail in the event of a conflict with other by-laws passed under s. 34 of the Planning Act.
Finally, before an order is issued, the Minister must establish guidelines respecting orders and publish the guidelines on a Government Website.
CBC By-law Reviews
New subsections are proposed to the Planning Act, as well as the provincial regulation O. Reg. 509/20 regarding CBCs and Parkland, that would increase the existing municipal reporting requirements. If passed, municipalities with a CBC By-law will be required to undertake and complete a review of the By-law at least once every five years. The review will include public consultation.
Parkland Requirements for TOCs
The proposed amendments would implement a maximum and tiered alternative parkland dedication rate for municipal parkland in areas designated as TOC land under the Transit-Oriented Communities Act, 2020. The rate is proposed to be based on a percentage of the development land or its value (10% on sites 5 ha or less, and 15% on sites more than 5 ha).
The proposed changes would also provide the Minister of Infrastructure with authority to identify encumbered land at TOC development sites that could be conveyed to a municipality as parkland.
Ministerial Powers Regarding Official Plan Approvals
The proposed changes would give the Minister new discretionary authority when making decisions on certain OPAs, or new official plans. The Minister would be permitted to refer these matters to the Tribunal for a recommendation on whether the Minister should approve or modify the OPA or new official plan, or for a final decision. In either instance, the Tribunal would be able to hold a hearing before making its recommendation or rendering its decision.
The changes would also allow the Minister to suspend the time period in which to decide on all official plan matters subject to Minister’s approval (with transition for matters that are currently before the Minister).
Regulation-Making Authority for the Use of Surety Bonds
Last, another new section proposed to be added to the Planning Act would permit the Minister to make regulations prescribing and defining surety bonds (and other prescribed instruments). Such instruments would authorize landowners and applicants to stipulate the type of surety bond (or other prescribed instrument) to secure obligations imposed by the municipality in connection with land use planning approvals.
Increased Funding to the Ontario Land Tribunal and the Landlord and Tenant Board
While not a result of a legislative amendment, the Province has also announced that it will provide $19 million in funding over three years to the Tribunal and the Landlord and Tenant Board. This was a key recommendation in the Housing Affordability Task Force Report, and according to the Province, the extra funding will support faster case resolution by increasing the number of adjudicators, mediators and case coordinators as well as by improving access to online services.
Bill 109 has now passed its second reading and is currently being considered by the Standing Committee. It is proceeding through the legislative process quickly, thus we will continue to provide updates as we monitor its status.