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Key Benefits of the Development Permit System

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The Development Permit System (DPS) incorporates many unique features which distinguish it from other planning tools, including those tools introduced through the Planning and Conservation Land Statute Law Amendment Act, 2006. The DPS is a land use planning tool that combines the zoning, site plan and minor variance processes into one application and approval process.

The chart below provides an overview of the key benefits of the system, which are categorized into five main areas:

Additional details on these benefits are provided in the DPS InfoSheet.


Streamlining

The DPS results in a more streamlined, timely development process.

  • Faster Review Timelines
    The DPS establishes faster timelines for review of applications than other approval processes. Review timelines for the consideration of applications for development permits are 45 days, as compared to 120 days for a decision on an application to amend a zoning bylaw or 30 days for site plan approval. After 45 days, an applicant has the right to appeal an application to the Ontario Municipal Board if a municipality fails to make a decision.
  • One Approval and Application
    Zoning, site plan, and minor variance are combined into one application/approval process.

  • Front-end Appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)
    When the land use vision for the community is being developed through the DPS official plan policies and the development permit bylaw or amendments to those documents, any interested party that has participated in the process can make an appeal to the OMB. Once the system is in effect, only the applicant of a development permit has a right to appeal a decision or non-decision on an application to the OMB where the application meets the requirements established through the official plan and development permit bylaw.

  • Ability to Enhance Application Requirements
    Through their official plans municipalities can enhance the prescribed information and material requirements for development permit applications to ensure they have all the required information to make timely decisions. Municipalities may also exempt certain classes of development or uses of land from some or all of the information and material requirements.

  • Delegation of Decisions
    Municipal councils may delegate decisions on development permit applications to a committee appointed by council or to a municipal employee. This helps expedite development because decisions on an application do not have to be tied to council’s meeting schedule.

  • Streamlining Other Processes
    The expanded definition of “development” allows for integration of site alteration and tree-cutting bylaws (normally separate municipal bylaws passed under the authority of the Municipal Act, 2001) into the DPS.

Flexibility

The DPS enables municipalities to incorporate flexibility in the development approvals process.

  • Permitted and Discretionary Uses
    In addition to permitted uses, a development permit bylaw may also identify “discretionary uses” which can be permitted (without a bylaw amendment) subject to meeting specified criteria.

  • Flexible Development Standards
    In addition to identifying minimum and maximum development standards, a development permit bylaw may also establish a specified range of variation from these standards which can be permitted (without a bylaw amendment).

  • Conditions of Approval
    Municipalities have the ability to impose a range of conditions on the issuance of a development permit, provided that these conditions meet prescribed criteria.

Enhanced Environmental Protection

The DPS enables municipalities to better protect the environment and public health and safety.

  • Conditions of Approval
    Municipalities have the ability to impose a range of conditions on the issuance of a development permit, provided that these conditions meet prescribed criteria. For example, conditions could include those related to vegetation removal and site alteration, as well as ongoing monitoring requirements to ensure public health and safety and protection of the natural environment. 
  • Discretionary Uses
    In addition to permitted uses, a development permit bylaw may also identify “discretionary uses” which can be permitted (without a bylaw amendment) subject to meeting specified criteria. For example, discretionary uses can identify the required conditions for appropriate development in environmentally sensitive areas.

  • Definition of Development
    The definition of “development” in the DPS, which includes site alteration and the removal of vegetation, enables municipalities to better protect water and the environment through, for example, conditions related to vegetation removal.


Building Strong Communities

The DPS enables municipalities to better promote strong communities, which are desirable places to live, play and work.

  • Community Design
    Municipalities have the ability to ensure compatibility of new buildings with existing community character through conditions related to the exterior design of buildings, and to secure streetscape improvements such as landscaping, street furniture and bicycle parking facilities.

  • Conditions of Approval
    Municipalities have the ability to impose a range of conditions on the issuance of a development permit, provided that these conditions meet prescribed criteria. For example, conditions could include the provision of specified facilities, services or matters for specified density or height, including increases in these, provided that prescribed criteria are met.

Community Involvement

The DPS allows the public to have a say in the vision of their community and in how that vision is shaped.

  • Community Vision
    With the DPS, the community is engaged in the development of the appropriate land use vision for an area. For instance, when developing or amending DPS official plan policies and/or development permit bylaw, municipalities must hold a mandatory public open house which allows the public an opportunity to review and ask questions about the information and material. A public meeting is also required to give the public an opportunity to make their views known before council makes a decision. If there are any concerns that cannot be resolved, any interested party can appeal the matter to the Ontario Municipal Board. Any changes to the DPS official plan policies and development permit bylaw require community input and participation. The structure of this system promotes strategic, long-term planning, and provides certainty, transparency and accountability for the community and other parties in the land use planning system.