Bill 66 – Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 – Proposed Planning Act Changes

On December 6, 2018, the provincial government introduced Bill 66, titled Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018. Bill 66 proposes more than 30 amendments to existing legislation, including the Planning Act.
If passed in its current form, Bill 66 would add section 34.1 to the Planning Act, allowing local municipalities to pass an “open-for-business planning by-law” (“OFB By-law”). OFB By-laws would fast track zoning permissions for qualifying developments, subject to certain conditions normally associated with site plan approvals.
According to information released by the Ministry of Economic Development, an OFB By-law is intended to “remove planning barriers to expedite major business investments and speed up approvals so they would be completed within one year”.

Exemptions from Provincial Plans, Policies, and Laws
An OFB By-law would be exempt from, among others, the following requirements:
• Consistency with the Provincial Policy Statement, 2014;
• Conformity with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017;
• Conformity with the Greenbelt Plan, 2017;
• Conformity with the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, 2009;
• Conformity with the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, 2017;
• Conformity with official plans;
• The applicability of a holding (“H”) provision;
• Height and density bonusing by-laws;
• Site plan approval; however, a municipality may still impose site plan related conditions;
• Subsections 34 ( – (34) of the Planning Act which would mean, among other things, that:
– A person can apply for an amendment to applicable zoning through an OFB By-law within two years of the parent zoning by-law being passed;
– An OFB By-law cannot be appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal; and
– A municipality would not be required to give notice or hold a public meeting prior to enacting an OFB By-law;
• Section 39 of the Clean Water Act, which would mean that an OFB By-law would not need to:
–  Conform with significant threat policies and designated Great Lakes policies; and
–  Have regard to other policies set out in a drinking water source protection plan;
• Section 20 of the Great Lakes Protection Plan, 2015, which would mean that an OFB By-law would not need to:
– Conform with initiatives made under this Act; and
– Have regard to policies set out in Schedule 1 of the Act;
• Consistency with any transportation planning policy statement made under sub-section 31.1(4) of the Metrolinx Act, 2006;
• Conformity with any development plan made under the Ontario Planning and Development Act, 1994; and
• Consistency with any applicable policy statements made under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016.

Procedure to Pass an OFB By-law
The municipality must pass a resolution requesting the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to approve an OFB By-law, and an OFB By-law would also need to satisfy any prescribed criteria that may be established by regulation. If the Minister approves this request, a municipality could formally enact an OFB By-law, subject to any conditions that may be imposed by the Minister.
An OFB By-law would come into force on the 20th day after it is passed by Council, or a later day specified by the Minister. Although no notice is required prior to the passing of an OFB By-law, the municipality must notify the Minister within 3 days and certain persons or public bodies within 30 days of the passing of an OFB By-law.

Proposed Regulation
The provincial government also proposes a new Regulation under Bill 66 that would:
• Require confirmation that the proposal is for a new major employment use;
• Require evidence that the proposal would meet a minimum job creation threshold (e.g. 50 jobs for municipalities with a population of less than 250,000 people, or 100 jobs for municipalities with a population of more than 250,000 people);
• Identify the uses of land, buildings or structures that may be authorized by an OFB By-law, such as manufacturing and research and development, but not residential, commercial or retail as the primary use; and
• Prescribe how notice is to be given to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing following the passing of an open-for-business by-law (similar to how the Minister is notified following the passing of a zoning by-law – e.g. email and personal service).

Legislative Process
The deadline to submit comments to the Environmental Registrar with respect to Bill 66 and its accompanying regulation is January 20, 2019.

Bill 66 has passed first reading. Davies Howe LLP will continue to monitor its status.

If you have any questions regarding Bill 66, please contact one of our municipal, planning and land development lawyers.