Proposed new rules in Bill 108 undermine local democracy and favour sprawl developers

Toronto, Ont. – New regulations proposed under Bill 108 would allow Ontario’s future to be determined by sprawl developers.

Bill 108 shortens planning review timelines, encourages sprawl and will result in more municipal council decisions being appealed by deep-pocketed developers. Because this Bill includes a return to the Ontario Municipal Board’s undemocratic rules (but under the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) name), sprawl developers will be allowed to gobble up more farmland and forests, without having to follow municipal decisions or engage the public.

One of the biggest dangers in Bill 108 is that developers will be allowed to build on lands not designated for development. Developers can now apply for boundary expansions in 40 hectare or 100 acre bites. They used to have to show a need for boundary expansions through a comprehensive Official Plan review process municipalities are required to do every five years or so. The new Bill 108 rules will unleash sprawl.

Under the new rules, developers will be able to circumvent the public process as follows:

  1. Flood municipalities with applications to expand city/town boundaries
  2. New rules under Bill 108 require municipalities to respond to all applications within 120 days; that’s almost half (90 days less) than what municipalities used to be allowed; this puts a strain on limited staff resources
  3. Therefore it will be difficult for staff reports to be completed in enough time for Council to make an informed decision
  4. If a developers’ application does not receive a Municipal Council decision within 120 days, they can go to the LPAT, an unelected, unaccountable body to make the decision; this is outside of evidence-based Official Plan reviews

In short, the changes proposed in Bill 108 take important decision-making out of evidence-based planning reviews and elected municipal hands, allowing sprawl developers to game the system.

As proposed, these Bill 108 regulations won’t help the Ontario government’s stated objective of building more housing where it is needed. If the province wants to build more homes while protecting farmland and natural areas, they need to defer to the public Official Plan review process, get rid of the LPAT/OMB, and stop pandering to sprawl developers.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information or to arrange an interview:
Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, skohls@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-885-7847