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Land Use Planning

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Who is responsible for making planning decisions?

To support increased local autonomy in land use planning, the province has transferred plan approval authority to municipal councils and planning boards where possible.

This delegation or assignment of approval authority allows the province to concentrate on policy development and advocacy in land use planning.

The Ontario Municipal Board can also make planning decisions where disputes have arisen over land use planning issues and where parties are unable to resolve their differences. The Ontario Municipal Board is an independent administrative tribunal responsible for hearing appeals and deciding on a variety of contentious municipal matters (see the Ontario Municipal Board, No. 6 in the series of Citizens' Guides).

What happens if my planning application is not processed within the time lines outlined in the Planning Act?

If your application contains all the prescribed information and a decision has not been made within the timeline outlined in the Planning Act, you may appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. Appeals must be filed with the planning approval authority, accompanied by reasons for the appeal and the fee required by the Ontario Municipal Board.

What is the Ontario Municipal Board and what is its function?

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is an independent administrative tribunal responsible for hearing appeals and deciding on a variety of contentious municipal matters. The OMB is similar to a court of law, but with less formality. Board members are appointed by the Ontario Cabinet and include lawyers, accountants, architects, planners and public administrators. The OMB operates under the Ontario Municipal Board Act, as well as its own rules of practice and procedure. It reports administratively to the Minister of the Attorney General.

When disputes arise over general land use planning issues, such as where industrial development should be located or what types of municipal services should be provided in the community, the OMB provides a public forum where facts can be assembled and a decision made. The OMB can make decisions in light of:

  • Environmental, social and economic considerations
  • Provincial interest
  • Rights of the individual citizens
  • The best interests of the community as a whole

Who can appeal to the OMB and how?

Any person or public body can appeal to the OMB.  An appeal can be made in several different ways (see Citizens Guides No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 for rights of appeal for each type of planning application.)

Appeals must be filed with the planning approval authority, accompanied by reasons for the appeal and the fee required by the OMB.

What can I do if I don't like a decision council made on my planning application?

If you disagree with a decision council has made on your planning application, you may appeal that decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. (see Citizens Guide No. 6)

  • Appeals must be made within time limits. In most cases, appeals must be made no later than 20 days after the day the council/planning board or approval authority gives its notice of decision on the planning proposal.
  • Your appeal to the OMB should be made to the council/planning board or approval authority, which gives the notice of decision. In most cases, they are required to send your appeal to the OMB within 15 days after the appeal period expires.
  • You should cite the portion of the decision you are appealing. For example, in an appeal of zoning by-law, you should specify if you are appealing part or all of the zoning by-law.
  • Written reasons for your appeal must be provided.
  • The appeal fee required by the OMB under the Ontario Municipal Board Act must be provided 
For more information visit the OMB website.

How do I sever or subdivide my property?

A land severance is the authorized separation of a piece of land to form two new adjoining properties. This is commonly known as a consent. It is required if you want to sell, mortgage, charge or enter into any agreement for (at least 21 years) a portion of your land. If the two parts are already split, by a road or navigable waterway for example, consent is not needed. In addition to the division of land, rights-of-way, easements and any change to your existing property boundaries also require land severance approval.

If several severances are intended in the same area, a plan of subdivision may be more appropriate. It is up to the consent-granting authority in your area to decide whether a consent is the best approach or if a plan of subdivision is necessary for the proper and orderly development of your community (see Subdivisions, No.4 and Land Severances No.5 in the series of Citizens Guides)

The approval of severances can rest with one of a number of different governing bodies. Depending on the area, consent-granting authority may be carried out by the upper-tier council, which may delegate the function to a lower-tier municipality, a land division committee or to a municipal planning authority. The lower-tier municipality may, in turn, use a by-law to delegate its approval functions to a committee of council, an appointed office or to a committee of adjustment. In Northern Ontario, outside the major urban centres the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing grants consents, although this power is often delegated to a municipality or planning board (see Northern Ontario, No. 7 in the Citizens Guide series)

To determine the consent-granting authority in your area, contact your municipal clerk or secretary-treasurer of the planning board.