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Updates to land use planning and appeal system

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Improvements to the land use planning and appeals system
Transition to new rules
Previous consultations

Improvements to the land use planning and appeals system

The Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017 changed the land use planning and appeal system by:

  • establishing the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal as the provincewide appeal body for land use planning appeals
  • establishing a Local Planning Appeal Support Centre to provide information and support for citizens who want to participate in the land use planning appeal process before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal
  • supporting clearer and more timely decision making
  • giving more weight to local decisions by reducing the ability of the tribunal to overturn municipal decisions that adhere to the municipal official plans, provincial plans, and the Provincial Policy Statement
  • giving municipal elected officials greater control over local planning, resulting in fewer decisions being appealed

These changes are based on the provincewide consultation the government undertook as part of the Ontario Municipal Board Review.

Transition to new rules

The changes under the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017 are effective from April 3, 2018.

Ontario Regulation 174/16 and Ontario Regulation 101/18 contain the rules to guide you through the transition period.

Generally, an appeal that is made before April 3, 2018 will be subject to the old rules and an appeal made after April 3, 2018 will be subject to the new rules.

However, appeals of major planning decisions made after April 3, 2018 will generally be subject to the old rules if the appeal period began before April 3, 2018.

The transition regulations also set out exceptions for appeals of certain planning matters that began between December 12, 2017 and April 3, 2018 (between Royal Assent and proclamation).  For example: 

  • an application for an official plan amendment or zoning by-law amendment received after Royal Assent and appealed before proclamation will be subject to the new rules
  • municipally-initiated matters such as official plan amendments that are adopted after Royal Assent and appealed before proclamation will be subject to the new rules

Transition questions

What is the general approach to transition for the Planning Act changes made by Bill 139?  

Generally speaking, matters that were already at the Tribunal before the new system comes into effect continue under the previous rules and processes unless the matter is impacted by new regulation provisions as described below.

Amendments to Ontario Regulation 174/16 under the Planning Act set out new transition rules to deal with certain matters in process when the changes made by the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017 took effect.  The following general transition rules apply:

  • If an appeal was filed before Royal Assent, the appeal is subject to the old rules
  • An application received after Royal Assent and appealed before proclamation is subject to the new rules
  • Municipally-initiated matters like official plan amendments that were adopted after Royal Assent and appealed before proclamation are subject to the new rules
  • An appeal made after proclamation will generally be subject to the new rules.

Planning matters not addressed in the transition regulation, such as the new official plan policy requirements for climate change and affordable housing or the expanded authority for local appeal bodies, apply immediately upon proclamation.

What are the specific transition rules under the Planning Act?

Amendments to Ontario Regulation 174/16 set out the following rules for transition related to the Bill 139 changes identified in the table below.  

Planning Act Change

Transition Rule
(O. Reg. 174/16)

No appeal of major provincial decisions

Remove ability to appeal provincial decisions on official plans and official plan updates, including conformity exercises

Applies to provincial decisions on official plans and official plan updates where notice of decision is given after proclamation

MZOs

Remove mandatory referrals of Minister’s Zoning Orders to the Tribunal

Applies to requests for referral made after proclamation

Consistency / conformity standard

Restrict grounds of appeal (on official plans, official plan amendments, zoning by-laws and zoning by-law amendments) to matters of consistency and/or conformity with provincial and/or local plans and policies

Consistency/conformity standard of review applies to:

Appeals of decisions

  • appeals of decisions for which notice is given after proclamation (i.e., appeals made during appeal periods that begin after proclamation); and
  • appeals of decisions made before proclamation in respect of:
    • complete applications made after Royal Assent
    • municipally-initiated official plan amendments that are adopted after Royal Assent
    • municipally-initiated zoning by-law amendments that arepassed after Royal Assent

Non-decision appeals

  • appeals of non-decisions made after proclamation; and
  • appeals of non-decisions made before proclamation in respect of complete applications made after Royal Assent

Longer decision timelines for municipal decisions on applications

Extend decision-making timelines for official plans, official plan amendments and zoning by-law amendments by:

  • Official plan and amendments from 180 to 210 days
  • Zoning by-law amendments from 120 to 150 days

Concurrent official plan amendment and zoning by-law amendment application for the same proposal (joint applications) – 210 days

Applies to complete applications made after Royal Assent

Longer decision timelines for approval authorities

Extend decision-making timelines from 180 to 210 days for approval authorities on adopted official plans/amendments

Applies to official plans/amendments adopted after Royal Assent

2-year timeout – new secondary plans

No applications to amend new secondary plans for two years, unless permitted by municipal council

Applies to applications for amendments to secondary plans that come into effect after proclamation

Interim control by-laws

No appeal of municipal interim control by-laws when first passed

Applies to decisions made after proclamation


Do the transition rules mean that separate appeals related to the same geography or proposal will be considered by LPAT under different rules?

Generally, the transition rules for major planning matters provide that:

  • If an appeal was filed on or before December 12, 2017, the appeal is subject to the old rules.
  • An application received after December 12, 2017 and appealed before April 3, 2018 is subject to the new rules.
  • Municipally-initiated matters like official plan amendments that were adopted after December 12, 2017 and appealed before April 3, 2018 are subject to the new rules.
  • An appeal made on or after April 3, 2018 will be subject to the new rules unless the appeal period began before that date. 

These transition rules mean that there may be situations where separate appeals of major planning matters related to the same geography or proposal would be subject to different standards of review and different statutory practices and procedures.

For example, an appeal of a non-decision on an application for a zoning by-law amendment on December 11, 2017 would be subject to a different standard of review and different statutory practices and procedures than an appeal of a municipally-initiated zoning by-law amendment passed on December 13, 2017 even if both appeals concerned the same geography or proposal.

The exception to the general transition rule above relates to appeals of approval authority non-decisions on adopted official plans and amendments.  In a case where such an appeal was filed before April 3, 2018, any subsequent appeals filed on or after April 3, 2018 would fall under the old practices and procedures in the Ontario Municipal Board Act.  The standard of review for these appeals was not changed by Bill 139.

Previous consultations 

We invited you to provide input on the land use planning and appeal system reforms proposed in Bill 139 from May 31, 2017 until September 1, 2017.

Read the Environmental Registry posting for the previous consultation.

We also asked for your thoughts on the following 3 proposals from December 7, 2017 to January 21, 2018:

  1. proposed amendments to matters included in existing regulations under the Planning Act
  2. proposed new regulation under the Planning Act to prescribe transitional provisions for the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017
  3. proposed new regulations under the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal Act, 2017