Proposed new “Open-for-business” by-law authority scrapped

On Wednesday January 23, 2018, the Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced that the government would not be proceeding with Schedule 10 of Bill 66. As I wrote here, Schedule 10 proposed to give municipal governments expanded authority under their Planning Act, section 34, zoning powers, to decide whether or not to implement the environmental policies found in the following instruments when zoning for employment uses:

  • The Provincial Policy Statement (2014) and municipal Official Plans made pursuant to the Planning Act;
  • Drinking Water Source Protection Plans prepared under the Clean Water Act, 2006;
  • Great Lakes Protection Initiatives made pursuant to the Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015;
  • The Green Belt Plan promulgated under the Greenbelt Act, 2005;
  • The Lake Simcoe Protection Plan promulgated under the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008;
  • The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan pursuant to the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001.
  • A Policy Statement made pursuant to the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016.[i]

The announcement was made on Twitter, with Minister Clark writing:

In December, our Government brought forward Bill 66 which amongst other things proposed changes that would create a new economic development tool for municipalities to shorten the time it takes to build job creating projects. The use of this tool would never be approved at the expense of the Greenbelt or other provincial interests like water quality or public health and safety. However, our Government for the People has listened to the concerns raised by MPPs, municipalities and stakeholders with regards to Schedule 10 of Bill 66 and when the legislature returns in February, we will not proceed with Schedule 10 of the Bill.

The possibility of municipal governments circumventing environmental protections obviously met with strong opposition, and many municipal councils indicated that they were not interested in this new discretionary authority.

[I] A municipal government would also have the power to exempt a by-law from other non-environmental policies not included in this list.