On March 30, 2022, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing introduced Bill 109, More Homes for Everyone Act (“Bill 109”), which is the first step taken by the government in implementing recommendations from the Affordable Housing Task Force.

If passed, Bill 109 will make significant amendments to the Planning Act, the City of Toronto Act, 2006, the Development Charges Act, 1997, the New Home Construction Licensing Act, 2017 and the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act.

Changes to the Planning Act

According to the government, Bill 109 “proposes targeted policies for the immediate term that make housing fairer for hard-working Ontarians and make it faster to build the homes that families need and deserve.”

Specifically, Bill 109 proposes making the following changes to the Planning Act:

  • Require municipalities to gradually refund application fees to applicants who do not receive a decision on their zoning by-law amendment applications or site plan applications within the legislated timelines. This would apply to applications made on or after January 1, 2023
  • Establish a new Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator tool for municipal requests to expedite zoning outside of the Greenbelt area
    The Minister shall issue guidelines governing the scope of how this authority may be used, and the guidelines would need to be in place before an order could be made
    Require decisions on site plan applications to be delegated to staff for applications made on or after July 1, 2022
  • Extend site plan application review from 30 to 60 days
  • Establish regulation-making authority to prescribe complete application requirements for site plan applications
  • Establish regulation-making authority to prescribe what cannot be required as a condition of subdivision approval
  • Establish a one-time discretionary authority to reinstate draft plans of subdivision that have lapsed within the past five years, subject to consumer protection provisions
  • Establish regulation-making authority to require public reporting on development applications/approvals
  • Require municipalities with a community benefits charge by-law to undertake and complete a review, including consulting publicly, on their by-law at least once every five years
  • Provide the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing with new discretionary authorities when making decisions to:
    • “Stop the clock” if more time is needed to decide on all official plan matters subject to Minister’s approval (with transition for matters that are currently before the Minister),
      -Refer all or part(s) of an official plan matter to the Ontario Land Tribunal for a recommendation, and
    • Forward all of an official plan matter to the Ontario Land Tribunal to make a decision
  • Establish regulation-making authority to authorize landowners and applicants to stipulate the type of surety bonds and other prescribed instruments to be used to secure obligations in connection with land use planning approvals
  • Implement a tiered alternative parkland dedication rate for Transit-Oriented Communities to provide increased certainty of parkland requirements:
    • For sites less than or equal to five hectares, parkland would be dedicated up to 10% of the land or its value
    • For sites greater than five hectares, parkland would be dedicated up to 15% of the land or its value
    • Encumbered parkland could be identified through an order by the Minister of Infrastructure and would be deemed to count towards any municipal parkland dedication requirements. This would help ensure that Transit-Oriented Communities developments can provide new homes and parkland for use by the community

These proposed changes to the land use planning system would directly impact all 444 municipalities in Ontario. Municipalities would bear one-time upfront costs associated with learning the changes and updating their internal practices and procedures. They would also bear additional ongoing costs associated with additional workload and potential revenue losses (fee refunds) if decisions are not made within legislated timelines.

Comments on these proposed changes to the Planning Act are due April 29, 2022.

Proposed Changes to the City of Toronto Act

Bill 109 further proposes changes to the consultation process for a site plan control area provided in section 114 of the City of Toronto Act. The amendments set out rules respecting consultations with the City before plans and drawings are submitted for approval and respecting the completeness of applications made under the section. A new subsection will also be added providing for rules respecting when the City is required to refund fees paid to it pursuant to the Planning Act.

Increased Funding to Ontario Land Tribunal

The Ontario government also announced that it is investing more than $19 million over three years to help reduce the longstanding backlogs and accelerate decisions at the Ontario Land Tribunal (the “OLT”) and Landlord and Tenant Board (the “LTB”).

Funding will help appoint more impartial adjudicators at the OLT and LTB and support additional technology at the land tribunal to resolve cases faster. As with the legislative amendments, this investment addresses a key recommendation in the Report of the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force to increase resources at the Ontario Land Tribunal so homes can be built faster.

As of the time of writing, Bill 109 has only passed the first reading in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Its swift introduction demonstrates the province’s readiness to respond to the affordability issues raised in the Affordable Housing Task Force.

Our Campbells LLP team will continue to monitor Bill 109’s movement throughout the legislative process and advise accordingly.

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