Bill 73, Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, 2015 given royal assent

December 4, 2015

The Ontario Legislature has made significant amendments to the Development Charges Act and Planning Act. Royal assent was granted on December 4, 2015. While it will take some time to understand the full impact of the changes, here is what you should be watching for:

Changes to the Development Charges Act

  • Transit Services are added to the list of Services for which no reduction of capital costs is required in determining the amount of the charge;
  • Municipalities are now required to consider the use of multiple Development Charge by-laws as part of the required background study and to prepare an asset management plan. Public consultation is enhanced by ensuring that the background studies are available to the public at least 60 days before the by-law is passed;
  • In the case of a phased building permit, the Development Charge is payable when the 1st permit is issued;
  • A new section has been added imposing restrictions on the use of charges related to development outside of the Development Charges regime. The Minister now has explicit power to investigate compliance with the restriction including the power to hold a hearing and compel evidence under oath. In addition, the Treasurer’s annual statement must now report on compliance with this section.

Changes to the Planning Act

  • Added to the list of matters of provincial interest is the promotion of built form that is well-designed, encourages a sense of place and provides for public spaces that are of high quality, safe, accessible, attractive and vibrant;
  • New direction is provided to the Ontario Municipal Board to “have regard to” the information and material before Council when it is considering an appeal from Council’s failure to make a decision. Information includes written and oral submissions from the public;
  • Policy statements are now required to be reviewed at 10 year intervals rather than the current 5;
  • Planning Advisory Committees composed of at least one member of the public are now a requirement for upper – tier municipalities and single – tier municipalities in southern Ontario;
  • There are a series of amendments requiring decision makers to explain the effect of written and oral submissions on their decisions including those related to Official Plans, Zoning By-laws, and Plans of Subdivision;
  • Global appeals to new Official Plans are no longer permitted;
  • Appellants are required to give more fulsome reasons for appeals related to nonconformity with Provincial Policy Statements or upper tier Official Plans;
  • Mediation, conciliation and other dispute resolution techniques are now explicitly permitted along with measures that facilitate their use;
  • Amendments to new Official Plans or new Comprehensive Zoning By-laws are only permitted with Council approval during the first 2 years;
  • Section 37 money is required to be maintained in a special account which is subject to an annual financial statement from the Treasurer; And,
  • The criteria for minor variance decisions now includes criteria established by municipal by-law in addition to the usual statutory tests.

Bill 73 represents the 1st major amendment to the Planning Act and the Development Charges Act since 2011/ 2009 respectively. The changes follow consultation with municipalities and the public in 2013 and 2014.

The full text of Bill 73 can be found at

Stephen D'Agostino   Written by Stephen D’Agostino. He can be contacted at 416-868-3126.

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