Have your say on MZOs
Ministry deadline for comments Jan. 31st
Speak up for the environment and democracy!
Want your opinion on MZOs added to the public record? Now is your chance – but not for long. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is inviting public comments through the Environmental Registry of Ontario (Notice 019-2811) with a deadline of Sunday Jan. 31, 2021. The troubling changes to the Planning Act through the introduction of Bill 197 (COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act), enables the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to direct with impunity how land in Ontario will be developed, as dictated by a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO). This heavy-handed tool threatens the environment and democracy itself. It takes the power away from elected municipal councils – and therefore from the local citizenry – and hands it over the Minister and the Province.
What it means in plain English:
Changes made to The Planning Act made under Bill 139 on December 12, 2017 by the Wynne government consolidated the power to re-zone (i.e. determine the use of) any piece of property in Ontario, outside of the Greenbelt, under the sole authority of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Bill 139 removed any oversight or right of appeal that once existed and legislated that the Minister alone would have the authority to make, change or revoke any zoning order basically giving the Minister the power to dictate what can be built where, and by whom.
Before July 21, 2020, a municipality had the authority to use the site plan control tool within the Planning Act to address specific site plan matters for a parcel of private land, and this authority allowed the municipality to both set and enforce the terms of development for that land within their boundaries. After the passing of Bill 197 (Schedule 17) on July 21, 2020, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was granted the enhanced authority to completely override a municipality’s site plan control by allowing the Minister to:
require inclusionary zoning, (i.e. dictating what type of development can occur on the parcel)
remove municipal use of site plan control and require agreements between the municipality and development proponent (or landowner) concerning site plan matters, (i.e. force a municipality to consent to the development and the specific terms of that development) and;
make amendments to Minister’s Zoning Orders that use any of these enhanced authorities without first giving public notice (i.e. make any changes the Minister sees fit without consulting the public, municipality or anyone else in the process).
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT:
Even though this legislation has already been passed as part of Bill 197, the Minister has recently asked for public comment on these enhanced powers through the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO), most likely as a result of a lawsuit that is before the courts regarding the undemocratic use of MZO’s on environmentally sensitive lands. The comments that the Ministry receives through this process will become part of the public record and will help to demonstrate the concerns the public has with this egregious overreach on the part of the Minister and the Province.
Steps to make a comment
Step 1. Go to the ERO via this link:
Step 2. Make an anonymous comment without having to register:
Step 3. Copy and paste the following text:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the changes enacted through Bill 197, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, that was passed on July 21, 2020.
As a Canadian citizen and resident of the Province of Ontario, I am very strongly opposed to the changes enacted under Bill 197, specifically with regard to the enhanced powers granted to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to unilaterally remove municipal use of site plan control, require agreements between the municipality and development proponents concerning site plan matters, and make amendments to Minister’s Zoning Orders that use any of these enhanced authorities without first giving public notice or requiring public consultation.
These enhanced powers must be repealed and the power to determine the site plan controls returned to the municipalities. Further, and most importantly, no development should be allowed to take place in Ontario without the meaningful engagement and democratic consent of the people.
Step 4. Submit your comment