By Chad Ingram
Bill 73 the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act was passed by the provincial government in December.
The legislation which according to the province is designed to give citizens greater influence on the planning process and increase transparency and accountability makes changes to the Planning Act.
While some municipal politicians including some in the county had expressed concerns the bill imposed unnecessary and even harmful restrictions on municipalities a number of revisions were made to the bill before it was passed in Queen’s Park.
“We have had some effect on this” said Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin during a recent Minden Hills council meeting.
Last fall the Association of Municipalities of Ontario which represents the interests of municipal governments throughout the province lobbied the province requesting that a number of amendments be made to the bill.
One of the biggest changes to the legislation since the draft at first reading was regarding a two-year moratorium to be put on certain kinds of developments.
The original draft of the legislation contained stipulations that following the adoption of an official plan there would be a two-year moratorium for any applications requiring an official plan amendment as well as applications amending a replacement of a zoning by-law or applications for minor variances in cases of owner-initiated site-specific zoning.
Last year Dysart el al Reeve Murray Fearrey had said this stipulation could tie council’s hands delaying business development and impacting the economy.
In the final legislation this two-year moratorium can be waived by a vote of council.
Other major changes under the legislation are the removal of the ability to make global appeals of official plans that is to challenge the adoption of an official plan as whole and a lengthening of the required review process for official plans from every five years to every 10.
The bill also narrows the scope of appeals that can proceed to the Ontario Municipal Board.