September 23 - The Government of Ontario recently made several changes in Bill 197, COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 that are relevant to the land use planning, building and development sectors.
There are five key areas of the bill that NAIOP members should be aware of, as they make significant changes to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s authority and powers. These areas are:
• Changes to the Building Code
• Enhanced Minister’s Zoning Orders
• Provincial Land and Development Facilitator
• Changes to the Environmental Assessment Act
• Transit-Oriented Communities
Below is an overview of these changes. The full text of the bill, which received Royal Assent in July and is in effect, can be FOUND HERE.
• The Building Code was amended to allow for regulations under the Act to made by the Minister, rather than the Lieutenant Governor General in Council
• This will allow the Code to be amended quickly to respond to emerging and immediate issues (e.g. COVID-19 recovery), assist with cross-country regulatory harmonization and bring the Code in line with how changes are made to the Fire Code (also by Ministerial regulation)
ENHANCED MINISTER’S ZONING ORDER (MZO)
• The Minister has been provided with enhanced powers under an MZO, including the authority to:
• The Greenbelt Area is exempted from enhanced MZOs
• These changes are meant to speed up the planning approvals process for strategic developments
PROVINCIAL LAND AND DEVELOPMENT FACILITATOR
• The Bill permanently established the office of the Provincial Land and Development Facilitator (PLDF) and provided authority to the Minister to appoint the Facilitator
• The PLDF is currently a short-term advisory body that provides objective confidential and independent advice to the Minister
• The goal is to have the PLDF support the province on growth, land use and other matters, including Provincial interests (e.g. protection of ecological systems/natural areas, adequate provision of affordable housing and employment opportunities, and the management of natural resources)
• Through the PLDF, the government will take a leadership role in working collaboratively with both municipalities and stakeholders to explore all opportunities to stimulate the economy
MODERNIZING THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT ACT
• Following consultations, 8 amendments were made to the Environmental Assessment Act
• These changes make the level of assessment proportional to the level of impact on the environment and update class environmental assessments so they are more focused on projects with medium impacts, such as building a new wastewater treatment plant.
• The Ministry is developing regulations and business process improvements to implement these changes.
• The regulations will focus on:
• The Transit-Oriented Communities Act 2020 will:
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