Decisions about land uses and development – like draining wetlands, building subdivisions, and extending transit infrastructure – can profoundly affect Ontario’s landscape and natural environment.

The provincial government has a comprehensive system for managing land use and development across southern Ontario. Under this system, decisions are governed and informed by the Planning Act, the Provincial Policy Statement, municipal official plans, the Places to Grow Act, 2005 and growth plans, and provincial land use plans, like the Greenbelt Plan. Disagreements about planning decisions are adjudicated before the Ontario Municipal Board.

In the Far North, a new community based land use planning system is currently being rolled out under the Far North Act, 2010.

Land use planning and development in Ontario is primarily regulated by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH); however, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) also play roles in certain situations.

Success under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR)
  • Applications for Review submitted under the EBR lay the groundwork for the government introducing legislation to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine, an ecologically important geological landform in south-central Ontario.
Key Outstanding ECO Recommendations
  • In our 2012/2013 Annual Report, the ECO recommended that Ontario make a statutory commitment to long-term environmental monitoring for the Far North, undertake a strategic environmental review, and establish a permitting process for the Ring of Fire that expressly addresses cumulative impacts. Ontario has not yet made a statutory commitment to long-term environmental monitoring for the Far North, nor developed a strategic review and permitting process.
  • In our 2012/2013 Annual Report, the ECO recommended that the MNRF and MOECC make a statutory commitment to long-term environmental monitoring to inform land use planning in southern Ontario. The provincial government continues to operate without such a commitment to long-term environmental monitoring aimed at informing land use planning in southern Ontario.
ECO Reporting on Land Use Planning and Development

The ECO has reported on a wide range of issues relating to land use planning and development, including: planning laws and the Provincial Policy Statement; provincial land use and growth plans; the Far North; transportation infrastructure; watershed planning; natural heritage protection; and agriculture and aggregates. Below is a selection of the ECO’s reports and articles on land use planning and development. You can also use the search bar at the top of this page to search our website and reports for a particular word or phrase.

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