Open Season For Developers, Planning

This is a release from the City of Ottawa:

Subject / Objet Bill 185, Cutting Red Tape to Build More  Homes Act, 2024

Purpose


Date: May 03, 2024

The purpose of this memo is to provide a summary of the proposed provincial Bill 185 and the  impact it will have on the City.

Background

On April 10, 2024, the Province tabled Bill 185, Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act,  2024. The Bill was introduced to “cut red tape, speed up government processes and build at least  1.5 million homes by 2031.” Although Bill 185 has yet to receive Royal Assent, staff would like to  provide Council with a summary of the changes that would affect the City in the Bill’s current  wording along with an assessment of how City business would be impacted.

A memo discussing the Bill’s changes to the Development Charges Act was previously circulated  to Council on April 26, 2024.


Pre-Consultation and Application Fee Refunds

Currently, applicants may request a refund of their development application fee if municipalities  do not issue a decision within the Provincially prescribed timelines. Bill 185 would repeal these  refunds. The Bill would also prevent municipalities from requiring applicants to pre-consult prior to  submitting an application, effectively removing the phased pre-consultation process implemented  to meet the refund timelines implemented by Bill 109 in 2023.

Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) Appeals

Under the Planning Act, applicants can appeal to the OLT and request that the Tribunal  determine if the studies or material being requested by the municipality as part of an application  are reasonable, or if the material that was provided by the applicant is sufficient. These appeals  can only be made after an application is rejected. Bill 185 would permit applicants to make these

appeals immediately after initiating pre-consultation or immediately after paying their application  fee.

The Bill also proposes to eliminate third party appeals of development applications and would  dismiss any pending appeals that have not yet been scheduled for a hearing. People that have  had their appeal rights removed include third-party landowners, ratepayers, and other members  of the public that are not the applicant, the Minister, an approval authority, or a public body, or a  “specified person”. “Specified person” is a new term and includes applicants, public bodies,  Indigenous communities, and utilities providers.

Finally, the Bill proposes the ability for privately initiated Settlement Area Boundary Expansions to  be appealed to the OLT if Council refuses or makes no decision on the application, provided the  application is not within the Greater Toronto Area Greenbelt.

Protected Major Transit Station Areas (PMTSA)

The Bill would remove the ability for municipalities to require parking minimums within PMTSAs.  Additionally, Official Plan Amendments for permitted land uses, and buildings or structures would  be permitted in PMTSAs.

Ministerial Zoning Powers

Municipalities would no longer have the legislated ability to request Ministerial Zoning Orders  (MZOs); instead, the Province will be creating a new MZO request process that will exist outside  of legislation. The Minister would also gain the ability to make regulations that would modify  municipal zoning provisions in order to provide greater permissibility for residential units that are  ancillary to a detached, semi-detached, or rowhouse.

Planning Act Exemptions

Developments initiated by post-secondary institutions would no longer be subject to any Planning  Act provisions. Additionally, the Minister may exempt prescribed community service facilities  (limited to schools, long-term care facilities, and hospitals) from any Planning Act provision by  regulation.

Sewer and Water Capacity Allocation

The Bill would permit municipalities to enact a by-law under the authority of the Municipal Act to  regulate the allocation of servicing capacity. This provision would enable municipalities to develop  a by-law that could limit the amount of time servicing capacity is assigned to an approved  development. In this instance, if the development does not receive a building permit within the  timeline stated in the by-law, Council would have the ability to reallocate the assigned capacity to  another development. The objective is to motivate development proponents to progress towards construction in a timely manner.

Additional Changes

The Bill also stipulates that the Lieutenant Governor may make regulations authorizing  municipalities to provide direct or indirect assistance to a commercial enterprise, and such  assistance would not be required to comply with any levy, fee, or charge requirements within the  Building Code Act or the Development Charges Act. The Bill also would permit the relocation or  reconstruction of hydrocarbon lines without approval from the Ontario Energy Board, subject to  any regulations.

Discussion

Staff Concerns

The source of major concerns with Bill 185 impacts on City operations are the changes  surrounding the application fee refunds and pre-consultation. While staff welcome the elimination  of the requirement to refund development application fees should prescribed timelines not be  met, the proposed elimination of the ability to require mandatory pre-consultation presents some  concerns.

Staff would propose that the Province not remove the ability for municipalities to mandate pre consultation. Mandatory pre-consultation was the most significant change implemented by staff in  response to Bill 109, which consisted of three phases: phases 1 and 2 provided applicants the list  of required materials for an application and high-level feedback on their concept, while phase 3  provided staff an opportunity to review the documentation to ensure they were complete,  consistent with one another, address concerns raised and consistent with the terms of  references. Phase 3 specifically enabled staff to meet the provincial timelines for Bill 109  applications 100 percent of the time. While there would no longer be a financial penalty for  municipalities missing timelines, pre-consultation serves a valuable purpose of providing  applicants with high-level feedback on concepts and a list of required information and materials.

Currently, the prescribed timelines for municipalities to render a decision are: • 60 calendar days for Site Plan Control applications; and

• 90 calendar days for Zoning By-law Amendments.

Staff are also concerned with the lack of transition clauses to adapt to the removal of mandatory  pre-consultation, and the potential impact this could have on meeting both provincial timelines  and Council policy. Staff would have little-to-no time to assess process, policy and by-law  changes required to meet the provincial changes in a timely manner.

Staff are concerned with the ability for privately initiated Official Plan Amendments for urban area  expansion to be appealed to the OLT for a refusal or a lack of a decision by Council. Permitting  appeals will be a drain on City resources with the potential to add designated lands that undermines the growth management strategy of the Official Plan and without being identified in  the corresponding Infrastructure or Transportation Master Plan. The current system for urban  area expansion requires a comprehensive review to evaluate the best lands relative to each  other. A piecemeal application approach does not provide consistent evaluation for multiple  alternatives.

In addition, the Bill’s proposal to exempt post-secondary institutions from the Planning Act may be  consequential in its current wording. As it currently reads, the Bill exempts any undertaking by a

post-secondary institution from the Planning Act, and therefore exempts it from any requirements  under the City’s Official Plan, Zoning By-law, or Site Plan Control By-law. The Bill does not  specify any geographical constraints to this exemption, meaning this could include off-campus  developments. The City would still have interactions with post-secondary institutions for other  non-Planning Act permits as they relate to right-of-way, heritage and the Municipal Act.

Finally, the Minister may make regulations establishing requirements and standards with respect  to the land-use permissions for three dwellings on a residential lot with municipal water and  wastewater services. This ability reduces local control for what Council deems is appropriate for  local contexts. No specific regulations are proposed through Bill 185 at this time, only the ability  for the Minister to establish such regulations.

No Staff Concern

With respect to the changes regarding PMTSAs, no significant impacts are expected. There are  no policies in the Official Plan requiring parking minimums within PMTSAs. Furthermore, in the  draft Zoning By-law that was received by the Joint Planning and Housing Committee and  Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on April 29, 2024, staff propose eliminating parking  minimums city-wide.

Although the Bill seeks to remove the legislated ability for municipalities to request MZOs, the  Province has stated that it will be implementing a new form through which municipalities may  request MZOs, with which, in its current form, staff have no concerns.

Staff do not anticipate any significant impacts from any of the other changes proposed by Bill 185.  Next Steps

The deadline to submit feedback to the Province on Bill 185 is May 10. Staff will prepare a  submission that reflects the concerns outlined in this memo for submission before the deadline.

Staff will continue to monitor the Bill as it advances through the legislature. When the Bill receives  Royal Assent, staff will issue another memo advising Council of any amendments made to the Bill  since the issuance of this memo and prepare an implementation report.

Original signed by

Vivi Chi

cc: Senior Leadership Team

Planning, Development and Building Services Departmental Leadership Team Director, Public Information and Media Relations

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