As part of the COVID-19 post-pandemic recovery, the provincial government introduced Bill 197 COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act in the Legislative Assembly yesterday. The omnibus Bill makes amendments to a number of pieces of existing legislation as part of Ontario's Plan for Economic Jobs and Recovery.
Planning Act and Development Charges Act Amendments (related to Community Benefit Charges (CBC) authority):
- The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has responded to OHBA's major concerns articulated in OHBA's April 2020 submission responding to the Environmental Registry 019-1406 with respect to the Community Benefits Authority. The provincial government received over 70 submissions from local home builders' associations and individual member companies (16 from DRHBA members) that "ran the math" to demonstrate potentially significant cost increases for new home purchasers due to the imposition of a CBC.
- The proposed amendments to the Development Charges Act will expand the list of eligible Development Charges under hard services (moving them from previous soft service DCs).
- While that shift from previous soft DCs to hard services means there will no longer be a 10% reduction (municipal contribution), the total list of eligible services for development charges has been reduces, meaning some services for which municipalities previously charged soft service DCs for will no longer be eligible.
- The CBC framework (as recommended by OHBA and DRHBA) will no longer apply to low-rise or missing middle housing. Only residential development with over 10 units AND 5-stories and over will be eligible for municipalities to apply a Community Benefits Charge.
- The existing parkland dedication framework for low-rise housing within the Planning Act will continue to apply (the CBC framework previous amalgamated parkland dedication into the CBC).
- The OHBA (and local HBA) submissions specifically advocated for a cap on the alternative parkland rate to support intensification, however the proposed legislative amendments do NOT include a cap. OHBA will continue to advocate for a cap on the alternative cash-in-lieu of parkland rate.
- Proposed amendments to the Planning Act will make parkland dedication by-laws for the first time appealable to the LPAT (as has been advocated by OHBA).
Community Benefits Charges (CBC) Regulation:
- Yesterday's introduction of Bill 197 does NOT include a final CBC regulation or a percentage CBC cap.
- However, yesterday's proposed amendments to the Planning Act and Development Charges Act re-set the proposed framework for a Community Benefits Charges Authority and reflect positive discussions between OHBA, DRHBA and member companies throughout the spring with many of our recommendations being adopted by the government.
- There is still important work to be finalized, but the proposed framework released today is a positive step forward for a transparent and more predictable framework. OHBA and DRHBA will continue to engage with MMAH on what the percentage cap would be given this new framework and what is in vs. what is not in the "bucket" of services for the CBC.
- As was originally proposed, municipalities will no longer be able to charge "Section 37" density bonuses - the new CBC replaces this municipal tool and municipal CBC bylaws will be appealable to the LPAT.
Expanded Ministerial Zoning Order Authority:
- In an effort to support transit oriented communities and economic recovery, legislation tabled yesterday proposes to expand Ministerial Zoning Order authority.
- Additional Ministerial authority is proposed for Site Plan Controls in addition to existing zoning authority.
- The use of these powers does NOT include lands within the Greenbelt.
- The Minister will have the authority to prescribe affordable housing targets (inclusionary zoning) as part of this new authority.
- The proposed legislative amendments reflect OHBA advocacy and recommendations supporting more housing supply and choice in transit oriented communities.
Modernizing Municipal Class Environmental Assessments:
- The MECP is proposing to modernize all eight classes of Environmental Assessments (including MCEA) which were covered in more detail above).
- More info will be posted on the Environmental Registry.
- The MECP is proposing streamlining initiatives to standardize project lists and reduce studies required.
- These proposed amendments by the MECP will expedite the seven other classes Environmental Assessments (beyond MCEAs) process and be a very positive step for major critical infrastructure projects to move through the approvals process faster.
Environmental Compliance Approvals (ECAs) for Waste Water and Storm Water Management:
- The MECP is responding to OHBA advocacy moving towards a consolidated approvals approach for low-impact municipal sewage collection and stormwater management projects.
- More information will be posted on the Environmental Registry.
- The proposed changes will allow the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to make regulations that will streamline the Building Code development process, align it with National Construction Codes and enable Ontario to respond faster to construction sector needs.
- The Ontario government is proposing changes to permanently establish the Office of the Provincial Land and Development Facilitator and give the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing the authority to appoint the Facilitator.
- The Ontario government is advancing the Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC) Program, which will help connect people to places by building communities that are centred around transit stations along the four priority subway projects.
Government Press Release: