Oakville has concerns with province’s draft Bill 108 regulations

Wed, 07 Aug 2019

Not enough information to provide comprehensive comments; the commenting periods have been too short; and, it still remains unclear how Bill 108 will deliver more affordable housing and ensure that growth will pay for growth. These are the overarching comments the Town of Oakville has shared with the province regarding a recently released set of proposed regulations related to Bill 108 – the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019.

“In May, when the town’s comments and concerns on Bill 108 were forwarded to the province, we requested more consultation before the province took any further steps,” Mayor Rob Burton said. “Despite the serious concerns raised by municipalities and citizens across Ontario, on June 6, the Provincial Legislature passed Bill 108 into law.”

“Once again, the province is not listening to municipalities and has even adjourned the Provincial Legislature’s summer break to almost five months. The timeframe for the review of these proposed regulations, coupled with the lack of detail or consultation, completely undermines our ability to conduct a comprehensive analysis of their impact on the town’s financial position and our Official Plan, and our ability to protect the character of our existing neighbourhoods,” Mayor Burton concluded.

On June 21, the province posted four proposals seeking comments on draft regulations related to Bill 108 including the forthcoming Community Benefits Charge, and transition matters related to changes to the Planning Act, the Development Charges Act and the LPAT Act. Last night, Council endorsed a staff report outlining the town’s position on the proposed regulations, and directed staff to submit it to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Bill 108 will have a serious impact on the Town of Oakville. It will change the financial tools available to the town to fund parks, libraries, recreation centres and other community infrastructure. It will also change where the town can require new affordable housing, how heritage buildings are conserved and how development applications are reviewed by the town and at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). These changes could result in reduced service levels or a property tax increase for Oakville residents.

The following are highlights of the town’s concerns with the proposed new regulations and regulation changes:

  • Bill 108 reduces timelines for municipalities to make decisions on “complete” development applications. A proposed regulation would make these timelines retroactive to June 6, 2019. The town’s position is that the reduced timelines should only apply to complete applications submitted after Bill 108’s Planning Act provisions come into force. Municipalities should also be permitted to deem a development application incomplete for qualitative reasons (e.g., a required study did not provide sufficient technical analysis).
  • Bill 108 effectively reinstates the former powers of the Ontario Municipal Board whereby the Local Planning Act Tribunal (LPAT) will determine the “best planning outcome” in development disputes potentially ignoring a municipal council’s planning decision. Proposed regulations would require most unresolved appeals to be decided under the new rules, and also revoke existing prescribed timelines for the LPAT to dispose of appeals. The town is requesting that appeals filed under the existing LPAT Act (Bill 139) be completed under the Bill 139 rules regardless of whether a hearing has been scheduled. It is also the town’s position that the removal of the timeline requirements for the LPAT to dispose of appeals – and the return to lengthy de novo hearings – will slow down the resolution of land use disputes. 
  • Bill 108 significantly changes how the municipalities will finance development-related services. Currently, development charges (DCs) – the fees collected by municipalities on new developments – pay for “hard services” such as roads and water infrastructure, and “soft services” such as libraries, community centres and parks. Under Bill 108, soft services would be removed from development charges and financed through a new “community benefits charge” (CBC) based on land value. A CBC formula has yet to be proposed by the province. It is unclear how any CBC methodology based on land value could ensure revenues are maintained among Ontario municipalities so that complete communities are delivered in response to growth needs. It is the town’s position that significant consultation is needed regarding the CBC formula, and the requirements for a municipal CBC by-law, together with more time to implement it, which should run parallel with DC studies and the expiry of an existing DC by-law.

Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019, is a result of the province’s interest in increasing housing supply in Ontario. It received Royal Assent (became law) on June 6, 2019 and will amend 13 different statutes, significantly impacting municipal land use and financial planning. The changes that Bill 108 makes to the Development Charges Act, Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) Act, Planning Act and Ontario Heritage Act, among others, will come into force by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor as the related regulations are finalized.

To learn more, read the staff report, item 7 on the August 6 Planning and Development Council agenda addendum.