Gleaner

Serving Toronto's most liveable communities with the Annex Gleaner and Liberty Gleaner

Smart growth for our community

April 16th, 2015 · No Comments

Provincial proposal aims to give residents greater say

By Han Dong

Recently, I attended an event at the Fort York Foundation Visitors’ Centre with the Hon. Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, where he announced that the Government of Ontario is proposing reforms to the Planning Act and the Development Charges Act.  These proposed reforms would give residents a greater say in how their communities grow and would provide more opportunities to fund community services such as transit and recycling.

The Smart Growth for Our Communities Act was introduced on Mar. 5. The Smart Growth for Our Communities Act introduces reforms to the Planning Act and the Development Charges Act that would make sure that growth in Ontario is managed smartly.

Our proposed amendments would give residents a greater, more meaningful say in how their communities grow; and would make the planning and appeals process more predictable. The changes would also give municipalities more independence and would make it easier to resolve disputes at the community level.

The proposed Planning Act changes, if passed, would give municipalities and community groups an enhanced tool, called the community planning permit system, to encourage an innovative way to plan and address local needs. The development of this system would include residents and other stakeholders, and when one is in place, would not be subject to private appeals for five years.

The proposed changes would also ensure residents are better consulted at the beginning of the planning process for new developments, and encourage residents to provide feedback on the future of their communities. Furthermore, the changes would help municipalities resolve potential planning disputes earlier, reducing the involvement of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

These changes would also extend the review of new municipal official plans to 10 years, instead of the current five-year cycle.

The proposed changes to the Development Charges Act, if passed, would help municipalities recover costs for transit services and waste diversion, and create clear reporting requirements for capital projects that were financed though development charges. The reforms are based on recommendations from the review of the land use planning and appeal, and the development charges systems.  We will also be setting up working groups of stakeholders to review further more complex development charges issues, and to take a considered look at some land use planning elements.

It is important that all communities are engaged in a meaningful discussion regarding Smart Growth in Ontario. The Smart Growth for Our Communities Act will assist residents of Trinity-Spadina by putting the tools for effective advocacy in residents’ hands. With these important tools in place, and at their disposal, residents can be assured that they have a meaningful say in how their community grows.

The Act, if passed, will strengthen the community’s voice, address local needs, allow for quicker dispute resolutions, and provide a well informed avenue for concerned residents. Helping communities grow is part of the government’s economic plan for Ontario.

The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.

For more information on the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, community information sessions, the OMB, and all other provincial issues, please contact my office at 416-603-9664, hdong.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org or visit www.handong.onmpp.ca.

Han Dong is the MPP?for Trinity-Spadina.

Tags: Annex · Liberty · News