Ontario announces new Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017
Ontario Overhauling the Land Use Planning Appeal System and Strengthening Conservation
On December 12, Ontario passed legislation that will give communities a stronger voice in land use planning and better preserve the natural environment.
The Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017 will replace the Ontario Municipal Board with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, and help ensure that proceedings before the tribunal are faster, fairer and more affordable. The new legislation will also create the free Local Planning Appeal Support Centre, which will provide people across the province with information about the land use planning appeal process, legal and planning advice, and, in certain cases, may provide legal representation in proceedings before the tribunal.
The act will also modernize the Conservation Authorities Act, guiding the conservation of Ontario’s watersheds. The legislation clarifies the roles and responsibilities of conservation authorities and strengthens oversight and accountability. It also encourages increased public engagement by setting requirements for more public disclosure and for meetings to be open to the public. “Our government is taking action to give residents and municipalities a greater say in how their communities develop. That’s why we introduced this legislation,” said Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “These changes will help ensure that communities evolve and grow in ways that better reflect local concerns and priorities.” These changes will enable conservation authorities to have the flexibility to address growing environmental pressures such as climate change.
“Communities across Ontario benefit from the efforts of our conservation authorities,” said Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “This legislation gives conservation authorities the tools and flexibility needed to address climate change, deliver exceptional services to communities, and protect people and property.” MW