The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 made wide-ranging amendments to many municipal and land use planning statutes. Most took effect July 21st and September 18th. The following are some key changes to keep in mind.
“Community Benefits Charges” offer new way to fund services
– Municipalities can now impose “community benefits charges” against development to help pay for associated capital costs and services. This is the result of amendments to the Planning Act section 37. Community benefits charges cannot apply to capital costs or services already covered by development charges or parkland levies. Charges cannot exceed 4% of the value of the land under development, and certain development is exempt, including small residences, long-term care homes, and universities. Money collected from charges must be paid into a special account, managed transparently, and 60% of the money in the account at the beginning of each year must be spent that year.
– “Increased density” by-laws passed under the old section 37 scheme must be transitioned out by September 18th, 2022. Community benefits charges by-laws will require a strategy document and consultation and can be appealed by any person to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
Parkland rates now appealable
Section 42 of the Planning Act has been amended to allow appeals of by-laws that set rates for parkland dedication.
Expanded Powers for Minister
Amendments to Planning Act Section 47 enable the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to require site plan control and inclusionary zoning in “special zones” outside of the Greenbelt Area. Significantly, the Minister can require that affordable housing units be incorporated into a development.
The updated Development Charges Act is clearer and more flexible
Section 2(4) of the Development Charges Act now lists exactly which services a municipality can impose development charges on. Section 2(4.1) prohibits overlap between development charges and the Planning Act’s new “community benefits charges”. Municipalities can also now bundle portions of capital costs and services together into “classes” which are deemed one service for the purposes of reserve funds and credits.
Virtual council meetings
The Municipal Act now permits virtual council hearings. Under the new section 238, a procedural by-law may permit members to participate in a meeting electronically. Council can set its own rules regarding the extent and the manner of electronic participation. The procedural by-law can also permit members of council to appoint another member as their proxy, subject to certain restrictions.
No “hearings of necessity” for highway expropriations
Section 11.1 was added to the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act, clarifying that the right of landowners to “hearings of necessity” under the Expropriations Act do not apply to expropriations of land under the Public Transport, etc. Act.
Council approval needed for landfilling sites
Waste disposal sites where landfilling will occur now require a resolution from local municipal council supporting the site as a prerequisite to Ministry approval. This is the result of the new section 6.0.1 of the Environmental Assessment Act.
If you deal with these statutes, consider whether your resources and processes need updating. For a complete list of changes, see the full text of Bill 197 and its helpful explanatory note.
If you have any questions about this update, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.