Oakville responds to legislative updates to housing and growth planning
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
At the May 15, 2023 Planning and Development Council meeting, Oakville Town Council endorsed staff comments regarding updates and commentary on provincial legislation: Bills 109, 23 and 97 and the proposed Provincial Planning Statement 2023.
The report will be sent to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Halton Area MPPs, Halton Region, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, Conservation Halton and Credit Valley Conservation.
Given the significant provincial legislative changes over the last few years, the town recommends the province allow for a period of stability for municipalities to conform to the new planning regime.
Each piece of legislation and associated regulations and plans is at varying stages of enactment by the province and implementation by the town.
Bill 97 extends the timeline from January 1, 2023, to July 1, 2023, for municipalities to refund development applications fees when not meeting statutory deadlines for decisions on development applications. The town supports the extended deadline and to date, the town has not had to issue any refunds.
Bill 97 introduces new regulations wherein municipalities could maintain site plan control for residential developments of 10 or fewer units if located within 120 metres of a shoreline or 300 metres of a railway line. The town welcomes this update which can potentially enable more oversight over grading, drainage, flood control, traffic management and safety measures.
New regulation requires select municipalities to regularly report on planning application data to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The town is actively working on meeting the reporting needs before the June 30, 2023 deadline. Town staff are collaborating with 28 municipalities and the province on providing the information through a shared data exchange platform and advocating for provincial funding to cover the initial costs.
New legislation changes the definition of “employment areas” to focus on heavy industry, manufacturing and large-scale warehousing, and removes institutional, commercial and office uses from the definition. The town is concerned with lesser protections for such employment areas if they will now be mixed with residential uses. The town is seeking more clarification from the province on this matter.
New requirements will enable conversion of existing commercial and institutional buildings for residential use. The town supports increased housing while continuing to protect employment opportunities. Finding balance is critical for maintaining complete communities and the town’s urban structure.
Municipalities are required to meet or exceed the density targets in the proposed Provincial Policy Statement and carry out municipal-level growth forecasting in the future in the absence of provincial growth forecasts. The town plans to maintain the minimum density targets as required by the Province (i.e. 200 residents and jobs per hectare in the Midtown Urban Growth Centre).
Bill 23 requires listed heritage properties to be removed from municipal heritage register after two years. This affects the town’s 294 listed properties. In response, the town has initiated a Heritage Designation Project to evaluate the merits of designating approximately 80 listed properties by 2025 to conserve Oakville’s cultural heritage resources.
Under the legislation, some reviews related to natural heritage and select aspects of stormwater management will no longer be provided by Conservation Halton or Credit Valley Conservation and the town is required to assume those responsibilities. The town is working with both organizations to develop a transition plan and to complete reviews for existing files.
“As various aspects of the provincial housing legislation continue to be refined, we will work collaboratively to ensure a sustainable future for Oakville. Our continued focus is on creating complete, sustainable communities in accord with our Official Plan. Our Official Plan was created with such unanimity to preserve the established character of our stable established neighbourhood streets where we live by directing growth to our growth nodes and our transit corridors.”