Changes to Ontario municipal laws now in effect and increase municipal powers to combat climate change
Bill 68—the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2017—received royal assent on May 30, 2017, so is now officially in force.
As we previously reported, Bill 68 introduces a host of changes to several key municipal statutes: the Municipal Act, 2001 (“Municipal Act”); City of Toronto Act (“COTA”); Municipal Conflict of Interest Act; and Planning Act.
There are a few particularly interesting changes aimed at increasing municipal powers to combat climate change.
Paragraph 10(2) 5 and paragraph 11(2) 5 of the Municipal Act have been repealed and replaced to empower single-, upper-, and lower-tier municipalities to pass by-laws respecting climate change as part of their powers to enact by-laws relating to the economic, social, and environmental well-being of the municipality. A similar change has been introduced to the COTA with the repeal and revision of paragraph 8(2) 5.
Section 147 of the Municipal Act is also repealed and amended. Municipalities can now provide for, or participate in, long-term energy planning, which may include, among other considerations, climate change. Previously, section 147 enabled municipalities to provide, arrange for, or participate in an energy conservation program. A similar change has been introduced to the COTA.
Section 2 of the Planning Act is also amended to make the “mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to a changing climate” an enumerated matter of provincial interest providing grounds for planning matters.
All of this represents a paradigm shift allowing municipalities to be proactive in combating climate change.