Ontario Introduces Proposed Bill 185

On April 10, the Ontario government introduced the Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024, also referred to as Bill 185.

A backgrounder on the proposed changes can be found here: https://news.ontario.ca/en/backgrounder/1004423/cutting-red-tape-to-build-more-homes  

The proposed Bill 185 can be found here:

Bill 185, Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024 - Legislative Assembly of Ontario (ola.org)

 The proposed Bill 185 includes the following initiatives:

  • A new go-forward framework for how requests for zoning orders (known as MZOs) will be received and considered:
    • A municipal council or mayor with strong mayor powers could request an MZO
    • A request for an MZO would be required to include the rationale for why the project requires the MZO, as well as a description of public consultation and Indigenous engagement undertaken
  • Changes to the Planning Act regarding Ontario Land Tribunal appeals:
    • Third-party appeal rights for official plans, official plan amendments, zoning by-laws and zoning by-law amendments would be limited to key participants such as the applicant, the Minister, public bodies and “specified persons” (generally limited to companies involved in utility, power generation, rail operation and telecommunication infrastructure) to reduce costs and delays
    • The implementation of transitional rules that would provide for the automatic dismissal of certain existing third-party appeals where the hearing was not scheduled before April 10, 2024
    • Private applicants would have the right to appeal official plan and zoning by-law amendment applications seeking to expand a settlement area boundary
      • The removal of mandatory pre-application consultations with municipalities
  • The elimination of the five-year phase-in of development charge rates
    • This would apply to development charge by-laws passed on and after January 1, 2022
  • The removal of fee refund provisions from the Planning Act and City of Toronto Act, 2006
  • Changes to the anti-bonusing provisions in the Municipal Act, 2001 and the City of Toronto Act, 2006 that would allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations to enable a municipality to provide incentives to specified businesses
  • An exemption for publicly assisted universities from the Planning Act to accelerate the building of new student housing
  • The imposition of lapsing provisions for approved site plans and draft plans of subdivision, subject to time frames to be set by regulations:
    • Draft plans of subdivision would have mandatory lapsing provisions
    • Approved site plans which do not pull building permits within a specified period of time could have their approvals withdrawn by the municipality
    • Proposed changes to the Planning Act would also establish a three-year timeframe for conditions to be met on pre-1995 draft subdivision approvals
    • Under this proposal, if existing conditions are not met within the timeframe, the approval would expire or lapse
  • A “use it or lose it” approach to water and wastewater allocations, which would enable municipalities to adopt policies setting out how water and wastewater servicing may be allocated and reallocated
  • Exploration of options respecting a new expedited approval process for community service facilities starting with K-12 public schools and potentially extending to long-term care and hospitals in phases
  • Removal of the requirement to have a minimum number of parking spaces for developments in certain areas near most major transit stations
  • Seeking feedback on other land use planning proposals through further consultation on an updated proposed Provincial Planning Statement
  • Changes to the Planning Act that would provide authority for regulations to eliminate barriers to additional residential units, including maximum lot coverage and limits on the number of bedrooms allowed per lot​
  • Creation of a regulation-making authority to exempt standardized housing designs (once created) from certain sections of the Planning Act (e.g. zoning) and from planning provisions under the City of Toronto Act, 2006
  • Changes provide flexibility for when the amendments contemplated in the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, which remove statutory powers under the Planning Act from seven upper-tier municipalities, will come into effect
  • Upper-tier Regional Municipalities of Peel, Halton and York would no longer have planning responsibilities as of July 1, 2024
  • The dissolution of the Regional Municipality of Peel and the continuation as three single-tier municipalities would be repealed

On the same day that Bill 185 was introduced, the government also released a new draft of the proposed Provincial Planning Statement 2024 with a deadline for written comments by May 10, 2024.

Loopstra Nixon LLP’s Municipal, Land Use Planning and Development Group continues to be engaged in all aspects of Ontario’s municipal, land use planning and development law and will provide further updates on Bill 185 as they are released. If you have any questions regarding how these changes may impact you or your organization, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.