On February 24th, 2014, the Ontario government released the new Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 announcing an in effect date of April 30th, 2014. The release is the culmination of a review that began in 2010, and the new statement replaces the Provincial Policy Statement, 2005.
MMM Group’s planning and environmental design team has reviewed the new Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), and identified some of the key changes from the 2005 PPS. It is important to note that changes to the PPS may have direct implications on projects and applications that are currently in progress, or are at the Ontario Municipal Board. The Planning Act was amended in 2006 to state that decisions made by any approval authority must be consistent with the PPS that is in effect on the date of the decision rather than the date of application (refer to Section 3(5) of the Planning Act).
As you may know, the PPS provides policy direction on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development in Ontario. It sets the policy foundation for regulating land use and development, while protecting resources, public health and safety, and the built and natural environments. Land use planning decisions must be consistent with the policies of the PPS.
The changes to the PPS have involved modest modifications to existing policies as well as the introduction of new policies. In effect, the 2014 PPS builds upon the 2005 PPS. While its structure is largely the same, there are key changes that affect a variety of policy topics and areas as well as policies respecting implementation and interpretation.
Some key themes addressed by the changes
to the PPS:
Incorporation of the interests of Aboriginal communities through improved coordination and protection of cultural and archaeological interests
Improved recognition of the needs and diversity of rural and northern communities, including recognition of the diversity of Ontario’s communities
More explicit consideration and planning for the impacts of climate change
More explicit consideration and promotion of healthy communities and active modes of transportation
Recognition and protection of goods movement corridors
Requirements for prime agricultural areas and provision for further diversification of on-farm uses such as agri-tourism, and flexibility for larger-scale agricultural uses to support farming communities
Summary of Key Policy Changes and New Policies:
- 1.1.3 – A new preamble is introduced into this section. It recognizes that Ontario has a variety of different types of settlement areas, and that the vitality of settlement areas is critical to long-term economic prosperity.
- The definition for Comprehensive Review has been modified to remove reference to Specialty Crop Areas, and to require confirmation of sufficient water quality, quantity, and assimilative capacity of receiving water, and to confirm that sewage and water services can be provided.
- Policies 126.96.36.199 – 188.8.131.52 as well as Section 1.1.5 are added to provide guidance on growth and development in Rural Areas and Rural Lands. Rural Settlement Areas are to be the focus of development in rural areas, and planning authorities are to give consideration to the rural characteristics, scale of development, and appropriate servicing. Additionally, growth and development can be directed to rural lands where a municipality does not have a settlement area. Uses permitted in rural lands and policies for development are specified in 1.1.5.
- The policies of 1.2 have been expanded to elaborate on coordination among levels of government, agencies, and Aboriginal communities in planning processes.
- The Employment Areas Policies in 1.3 have been expanded to encourage compact, mixed-use areas that incorporate compatible employment uses, and to ensure protection of employment areas in proximity to major goods movement corridors.
- 1.6.1 – 1.6.5 – Policies regarding Infrastructure and Public Service facilities policies have been expanded to require that infrastructure is coordinated and integrated with land use planning to ensure financial viability over their life cycle. Additionally, the PPS encourages the promotion of green infrastructure, a newly defined term.
- 184.108.40.206 – 220.127.116.11 – The five-lot limit for development on private servicing is removed, and infilling and rounding out of settlement areas on private services is permitted.
- 18.104.22.168 – Major goods movement facilities and corridors (a newly defined term) are to be protected for the long term.
- 1.7.1 – Communications infrastructure, energy infrastructure and goods movement are added to the list of the components of strong economies.
- 2.1.3 Natural heritage systems are to be identified in Ecoregions 6E and 7E (i.e., southern Ontario as shown on Figure 1), but recognizing that the systems will vary in size and form in settlement areas, rural areas and prime agricultural areas.
- Policy 2.1.7 is introduced to explicitly note that development is not to be permitted in habitat of endangered and threatened species except in accordance with provincial and federal requirements. Previously, policy 2.1.4 prohibited development and site alteration in significant habitat of endangered and threatened species.
- 2.3.6 – Non-Agricultural Uses in Prime Agriculture Areas – are a new set of policies to provide detailed guidance on what types of non-agricultural uses are permitted within prime agricultural areas.
- 2.6.4 and 2.6.5 – Planning authorities are to consider and promote archaeological management plans and cultural plans, and to consider the interests of Aboriginal communities in the conservation of cultural heritage and archaeological resources.
- 3.1.3 – Planning authorities must consider the potential impacts of climate change, which may increase the risk associated with natural hazards.
- 3.1.8 – Development is to be directed to areas outside of lands that are unsafe due to hazardous forest types for wildland fire. Development may be permitted in these areas where the risk is mitigated. Hazardous forest types for wildland fire is a newly defined term which refers to forest types assessed as high to extreme risk according to tools established by MNR.
- 4.8 – A new policy is introduced to note that Zoning and Development Permit By-laws are important to implement the PPS, and these by-laws must be kept up to date with their Official Plans and the PPS. Official Plans are still considered to be the most important vehicle for implementing the PPS under Policy 4.7.
- 4.3 and 4.6 – The PPS is to be implemented in a manner consistent with the Human Rights Code and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Further, 4.3 notes the PPS is to be consistent with Aboriginal and treaty rights under Section 35 of the Constitution Act.
- Note that Part III of the PPS (How to Read the PPS) has been expanded somewhat. In particular, it notes that future “guidance material” and “technical criteria” may be issued in the future to support implementation.
Questions or concerns?
If you have questions about how the changes to the Provincial Policy Statement might affect your study or project, we would be happy to assist you. MMM Group Limited is a leading consultant for Ontario municipalities, having managed a wide range of community planning studies, including Official Plans, Secondary Plans, Zoning by-laws, Community Improvement Plans, Heritage Conservation District Plans, and many other community planning and design studies across the province. MMM is also a trusted advisor to the private sector, managing the interests of developers and private corporations.
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