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Planning Act Approval Authority in Ontario

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May 2015

Explanatory Notes: 

  • The Planning Act Approval Authority chart provides an overview of where planning approval authority rests with respect to the approval of official plans and amendments, subdivisions, condominiums, consents, power of sales and validations, either by being directly assigned in the Planning Act or prescribed or delegated by the Minister of Municipal Affairs pursuant to the Planning Act for municipalities and planning boards in Ontario.
  • The chart includes, in alphabetical order, all 444 municipalities in the province as well as a list of planning boards.  The listing indicates municipalities by type, being upper-tier, single-tier or lower-tier, in accordance with the Municipal Act, 2001.  The chart also identifies the upper-tier or territorial district in which a single-tier or lower-tier is located, where applicable.
  • The chart does NOT show where an upper-tier municipality has in turn further delegated planning approval authority to a lower-tier municipality (e.g. the delegation by an upper-tier of subdivision or consent approval to a lower-tier municipality).  The chart indicates when upper-tier municipalities should be consulted for this information.
  • The chart identifies the municipalities whose official plan amendments (OPAs) are exempt from Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) approval.
  • The chart also indicates when an upper-tier municipality should be consulted for information regarding lower-tier official plan amendments (e.g.  exemption from upper tier approval). 
  • Planning Act Approval Authority Chart May 2015 - pdf


    The information contained in the planning approvals chart has been prepared for your convenience.  For accurate reference, the user should consult the Planning Act, and their local municipality (or planning board where applicable).  Although the chart has been carefully prepared, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the information contained in the chart; or the suitability of the chart for a particular purpose and disclaims all responsibility for any consequences including direct or indirect liability, arising from its use.

    Definition of Terms: 

    “county” means an upper-tier municipality that was a county on the day the Municipal Act, 2001 came into force;

    “local municipality” means a single-tier municipality or a lower-tier municipality;

    “lower-tier municipality” means a municipality that forms part of an upper-tier for municipal purposes;

    “municipality” means a geographic area whose inhabitants are incorporated;

    “regional municipality” means an upper-tier municipality that was a regional or district municipality or the County of Oxford on December 31, 2002;

    “single-tier municipality” means a municipality, other than an upper-tier municipality, that does not form part or an upper-tier municipality for municipal purposes;

    “upper-tier municipality” means a municipality of which two or more lower-tier municipalities form part for municipal purposes; 

    "planning board" means a board established by the Minister for a defined planning area in a territorial district;

    “partial* means that the delegated approval authority only applies to those areas that are covered by an approved Official Plan.                                       

    •  assigned authority is planning approval authority that the Planning Act assigns directly to a defined set of municipalities.
    • prescribed authority is planning approval authority that the Planning Act, by Minister’s regulation, assigns directly to a municipality, named in the regulation.
    • delegated authority is planning approval authority delegated to a municipality, planning board, or municipality planning authority by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing pursuant to the Planning Act

    Approval Authority - Upper Tier 

An upper-tier municipality with an approved official plan is the approval authority for lower tier official plans and official plan amendments pursuant to subsections 17(2) and (4) of the Planning Act and for subdivision applications pursuant to subsections 51(5) and (5.1) of the Planning Act. 

Exemption of Official Plan Amendments from the Requirement for Minister Approval  

Subsection 17(9) of the Planning Act provides the Minister the authority to exempt by order an official plan or proposed official plan amendment(s) from his or her approval. (Note - subsection 17(9) does not apply to an official plan amendment made under subsection 26(1) of the Planning Act.)

Ontario Regulation 525/97 (as amended by Ontario Regulation 344/98 and other amending regulations), identifies those municipalities where amendments to official plans are exempt from the approval of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. 

 Authorization of the Exemption of Lower Tier Official Plan Amendments from the Requirement for Upper Tier Approval 

The Minister, by order pursuant to subsection 17(10) of the Planning Act, authorized upper-tier municipalities to pass by-laws to exempt lower-tier official plan amendments from requiring the approval of the upper-tier municipality.  In these cases, the chart will indicate that the upper-tier municipality should be consulted for additional information on exemption and approval authority. 

Ontario Regulation 699/98 (as amended)

  • Regional Municipality of Halton 
  • Regional Municipality of York
  • Regional Municipality of Peel
  • Regional Municipality of Durham
  • Regional Municipality of Niagara
  • County of Grey (Owen Sound only)
  • County of Dufferin (Mono and Orangeville only)
  • County of Northumberland (Cobourg, Port Hope and Trent Hills only)