Land Use Planning in Ontario

Recommendations of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario from 2000-2010

Over the past decade, there have been dramatic changes in land use planning in Ontario, due to the shifting balance between the provincial and municipal roles in land use decisions, the creation of regionally based land use plans such as the Greenbelt Plan, and the introduction of growth plans to encourage urban intensification.

During this time, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) has documented, reviewed and analyzed the significant changes in land use planning law and policy and made many recommendations, some of which have prompted further action by the provincial government.

This primer (click to download .pdf) pulls together and synthesizes the most significant articles on land use planning that have been written in the ECO’s annual reports from 1999 to the present (updated October, 2012). However, it is not intended to assess the government’s response, or lack thereof, to these recommendations.

This primer covers a range of planning laws, policies and issues that include:

  • the Planning Act and Provincial Policy Statement (PPS);
  • the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB);
  • regional plans for the Oak Ridges Moraine, Greenbelt and Lake Simcoe;
  • planning for growth, transportation and aggregate extraction; and,
  • natural heritage protection in planning.

The focus of this primer is on matters closely related to land use planning in the areas of Ontario governed by thePlanning Act. It does not address issues related to land use planning in the Far North or on Crown land in general, nor does it cover topics that have a loose relationship with planning such as environmental assessment, waste management or source water protection.

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