Municipalities provided additional discretionary authority in planning decisions

MANITOULIN – While changes have been made by the province to the Planning Act, Municipal Act 2001 and City of Toronto Act, 2006, providing municipalities with discretionary authority to delegate additional decisions to committees of council or municipal staff for minor amendments to zoning bylaws, it is not expected to mean any major changes for local municipalities or the Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB). The Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands makes its own planning decisions.

“I don’t think it will affect us much here (Manitoulin Island),” Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne, who is also a member of the MPB, told The Expositor. “We don’t drag our feet here on minor zoning bylaw amendments. I think these changes have been made with bigger places in the province in mind.” 

Theresa Carlisle, secretary-treasurer of the MPB, said under the changes, “effective January 1 the  changes mean that these type of minor zoning bylaw amendments would not have to go to municipal council. Municipalities could designate a committee to handle this type of thing. The amendments, for instance, would still have to conform to the Official Plan and official compliance but don’t have to go through the public municipal council process in place currently.”

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) posted a notice of decision on December 30, 2021. “Changes have been made to the Planning Act, Municipal Act 2001 and City of Toronto Act, 2006 providing municipalities with discretionary authority to delegate additional decisions to committees of council or municipal staff for minor amendments to zoning by-laws.”

  “Bill 13, the Supporting People and Businesses Act, 2021, was introduced on October 7, 2021,” the MMAH notice reads. “Schedule 19 of the Bill makes changes to the Planning Act to expand the matters that the council of a local municipality may delegate to help streamline planning decisions. More particularly, the amendments provide a new discretionary authority to delegate planning decisions dealing with minor amendments to zoning bylaws, subject to establishing official plan policies that specify the types of bylaws that may be delegated. This authority could include delegating decisions for temporary use bylaws, the lifting of holding symbols, and other minor zoning bylaw amendments. It would be up to each municipality to determine whether to exercise this proposed new authority and the types of minor zoning bylaw amendment decisions to delegate.”

“The schedule also makes consequential amendments to the Municipal Act, 2001 and City of Toronto Act, 2006,” the notice continues. “The delegation of additional planning matters does not alter any notice or public meeting requirements or limit appeal rights. It also does not change the requirements under the Planning Act for land use planning decisions to be consistent with the provincial policy statement and to conform or not conflict with provincial plans. “

“This new discretionary authority gives municipalities flexibility to delegate planning decisions dealing with minor amendments to zoning bylaws to help streamline processes. Council is required to establish Official Plan policies before it can delegate authority and those policies are subject to public consultation,” the MMAH decision explains.

“The changes do not alter any notice or public meeting requirements. They also do not alter the requirements for land use planning decisions to be consistent with the provincial policy statement and to conform or not conflict with provincial plans. These documents provide policy direction on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning to promote healthy communities, a strong economy and protect the environment.”

“The Planning Act currently allows council to delegate certain decisions (to a committee of adjustment): for example, decisions in respect of approval of adopted lower-tier Official Plan amendments, site plan, plans of subdivision and consents,” With the amendments, “it makes changes to the Planning Act to expand the matters that the council of a local municipality may delegate to help streamline planning decisions. More particularly, the amendments provide a new discretionary authority to delegate planning decisions dealing with minor amendments to zoning bylaws, subject to criteria established through Official Plan policies. This authority could include delegating decisions for temporary use bylaws, the lifting of holding symbols, and other minor zoning bylaw amendments. It would be up to each municipality to determine whether to exercise this proposed new authority and the type of minor zoning bylaw amendment decisions to delegate.”