29 March 2015 PDF version
Bill 73, the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, 2015: Some Highlights
with Commentary by Erwin Dreessen
Bill 73, the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, 2015, was introduced in the Ontario Legislature on 5 March 2015. The Bill would amend the Development Charges Act and the Planning Act.
Key Proposed Changes
+ Full transit extension costs to be financed by development charges and the costs can be estimated by looking forward 10 years instead of being limited to the level of service of the previous 10 years. (If so prescribed, the latter principle could also apply to piped services.)
+ Greater transparency in accounting for development charges accounts, Section 37 (community benefits) moneys, and payments in lieu of parkland.
+ Municipalities must establish a planning advisory committee.
+ In notices and decisions, higher profile for submissions made by the public.
+ If a decision on an application is not reached within 180 days then either side can extend the period once with up to 90 days.
+ Payment in lieu of parkland is reduced from 1 hectare per 300 dwellings to 1 hectare per 500 dwellings. Council can specify an even lower rate.
Other comments on Bill 73
+ Michael Mizzi, A/General Manager of Ottawa’s Planning and Growth Mangement Department, wrote a memo to Planning Committee, tabled on June 23, 2015. At Councillor Leiper’s insistence, Planning Committee discussed it on July 7. The discussion runs from 3:11:05 to 3:29:00 on the audio tape.
+ Here are the equivalent memos written by staff in Halton and Waterloo Regions. The Waterloo memo appends earlier correspondence (including jointly with Ottawa) about the Development Charges Act, as well as an advisory from Hemson Consulting, describing the proposed changes to the DC Act in positive terms.
Comment: In contrast to the memos from Halton and Waterloo, Ottawa’s memo is quite “thin” in content, missing, e.g., the important changes to the Development Charges Act, glossing over several aspects of where the views of the public are given higher profile, and the clauses on a development permit system; only one of two changes affecting the Committee of Adjustment is mentioned. Note that staff is opposed to the proposed obligation to establish a planning advisory committee and opposes having to explain what effect public input has had on decisions taken.
+ A June 2015 Municipal Law Bulletin from McMillan law firm. Largely descriptive, the Bulletin does wonder whether the changes will result in an even slower “planning approval process”. It also draws attention to Minister McMeekin’s words in the Legislature on April 21, 2015, confirming that changes to the OMB’s operations, practices and procedures were not part of Bill 73, the “first-stage review” following the consultations of October 2013 – January 2014. “In the end,” he said, “we all want to see planning disputes resolved, wherever possible, locally.”