Important amendments to the Planning Act came into force on January 1, 2022. The amendments mostly affect the Act’s subdivision control rules. Some highlights include:
- Owners can request to cancel consents
Under the new section 53(45), landowners will be able to apply to the municipality for a “certificate of cancellation” canceling prior consents. Only the owner can initiate the cancellation process, but Council has discretion to refuse to cancel a consent.
- Two years to fulfill conditions of subdivision approval
Applicants will now have two years to fulfill the conditions of approval for their consents under the updated section 53(41).
- Owners can amend consent applications, and purchasers can apply for consents.
Applicants currently have no statutory right to modify consent applications once filed. The new section 53(4.2.1) will allow applicants to amend applications any time before the approval authority makes its decision. Municipalities may set and charge a fee for amendments. As well, section 53(1) now permits purchasers to apply for a consent.
- Retained lots can be dealt with before severed lots
The updated subsection 50(6) now explicitly provides that when a parcel is severed in two, the retained lot can be dealt with separately from the severed lot before the severed lot is dealt with.
- Properties no longer automatically merge on the death of a joint tenant
Where couples own two adjacent properties, they sometimes hold one property as joint tenants and the other in only one spouse’s name. This can avoid the Planning Act rule that two properties held by the same owner(s) will merge into one. Previously, this strategy could fail if the spouse not on title to the second property died, because both properties would be now held solely by the surviving spouse, leading to their merger. The new subsection 50(3)(a.1) has addressed this issue by stating that lands which would ordinarily merge because of the death of a joint tenant are now able to be dealt with separately.
Municipalities should take steps immediately to ensure their processes reflect these changes. Consider: what should be the process and criteria for considering applications for certificates of cancellation? Are there templates and procedures that must be updated to reflect the new timelines around consents? What fees should apply, if any, to consent application amendments?
The full list of amendments can be viewed here, and a summary of key changes is available under the heading “Schedule 24” of the Bill’s Explanatory Note. Please do not hesitate to contact our Municipal Team if you have any questions about these changes.