After a long delay, on February 24 the Province of Ontario finally issued the new version of its Provincial Policy Statement, issued under the Planning Act. The PPS is the key policy reference for any arguments before the Ontario Municipal Board. The next round of Comprehensive Official Plan review (in 2019) must bring the Plan in conformity with the new PPS. The new policy comes into effect on April 30, 2014.
What’s new, compared to the 2005 PPS? How different is it from the draft issued in September 2012 [file no longer online]? Faith Blacquière has put together a document (1 MB, 60 pp.) that displays pair-wise comparisons in three columns: the current 2005 PPS vs. the September 2012 draft; the 2012 draft vs. the final and official 2014 PPS.
Did our extensive comments on the September 2012 draft make a difference?
Here are some highlights in answer to these questions, with focus on environment-related matters.
What’s new in the 2014 PPS compared to the 2005 PPS?
There are no show-stopping changes. However, there is more supportive language about rural areas. There is explicit support for “green infrastructure” (a defined term) and for alternative energy supply. A municipality now “shall” identify its “natural heritage system” (NHS). The Province imposes its criteria for declaring woodlands significant. Protection of fish habitat is further degraded.
What changed since the September 2012 draft?
In brief, that degradation of fish habitat protection happened after the 2012 draft: The prohibition against “disruption” (still there in 2012) was dropped in favour of prohibiting only “permanent alteration”; moreover, the principle of “no net loss of productive capacity” was dropped.
There are new references to “second units” in housing and to “older persons”. Some storm water management requirements have been strengthened.
Did our comments on the 2012 draft make any difference?
That’s always hard to say. By the numbers:
- Of the total of 86 comments we made, 25 expressed support for something that was proposed. None of these points were dropped. Count your blessings!
- Of the 39 points where we suggested further strengthening, we scored 4 in whole or in part.
- Of the 8 points where we agreed with Ottawa City staff’s comments, only one was adopted, namely the inclusion of “street trees” in the definition of green infrastructure.
- We disagreed with 3 comments made by staff. The Province did not take these comments in either.
- Naturally, we did not expect to be heard (the 11 remaining points) when we went on record as advocating a definition of “limited residential development” in rural areas and as (constructively) protesting the privileged position of the aggregates industry and that policy’s unscientific basis.
Erwin Dreessen, with thanks to Faith Blacquière — without her table this post would have taken a lot more effort!
11 March 2014