This Note is part of a series of Notes on key City issues to update City Council at the start of its 2018 – 2022 term.

Issues description

In April 2018, the Province of Ontario proclaimed into law the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017 (Bill 139). The Bill introduced significant changes to the planning appeal system and has a considerable impact on the City’s planning and development application review and approval process.

Implementation will require the City to manage reforms to existing processes required to implement Bill 139, and respond to the surge in the number of appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) prompted by the transition to the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) appeals process.


In the new term, City staff will bring to City Council:

  • resource requirements for new policy development including policy related to an Inclusionary Zoning Official Plan policy framework and implementing related zoning changes,
  • a review of development application fees that will consider the recovery of the costs associated with implementing Bill 139,
  • a legislated conformity exercise with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2017), and
  • the results of a review of any impact that Bill 139 may have on the development review process.


Over the last four years, the Province of Ontario has introduced a suite of planning reforms. These include:

  • Bill 73, the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, (Planning Act amendments), in 2015;
  • updates to the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) of the government’s policies on land use planning in 2014;
  • updates to the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (the “Growth Plan”) in 2017; and
  • Bill 7, Promoting Affordable Housing Act in 2016 and its related Inclusionary Zoning Regulation 232/18, in 2018.

Bill 139, the most recent Bill, included the following changes to the current planning system:

  • the ability to shelter municipally initiated Official Plan amendments that require the Minister’s approval from appeals;
  • a 2-year moratorium on amendments to newly approved Secondary Plans;
  • establishing a streamlined and expedited two-step appeal process for Official Plans/Amendments and zoning bylaws; and
  • creation of the LPAT to replace the OMB.

The changes introduced by Bill 139 are intended to achieve the following:

  • have greater regard for City Council decisions and decision-making record;
  • encourage mediation and other forms of collaborative decision-making;
  • provide a clearer common ground for allowing appeals; and
  • shorten and streamline hearings in part by codifying conduct at hearings.

As there will be greater emphasis on City Council’s review and decision, the record will be more detailed, and decisions will be available for greater scrutiny on appeal.

While the LPAT has replaced the OMB, every complete development application the City received before December 12, 2017, and appealed before April 3, 2018, when Bill 139 came into force, will be managed under the old system. As a result, the number of appeals filed increased by 155 percent before April 2018, when the new Bill came into force. It will take several years to resolve these appeals under the former OMB system fully.

Actions and Plans

City staff will review and where necessary, report to City Council on transitional, procedural and process changes required to implement Bill 139.

In 2018, City Council approved additional resources to support the implementation of the Bill and the transition from one appeal system to a new system. Staff are undertaking work which will include reviewing Planning Application Fees and conducting a comprehensive end-to-end review of the development review process.


Date Milestone
May 2018 City Council approved funding of staffing and related resources required to effectively implement Bill 139 and requested the that City staff report back in 2021 on permanent staffing levels required for the implementation of Bill 139.
April 3, 2018 Bill 139 came into force.
January 2018 City Council considered a report on the proposed transition regulation associated with the amendments to the province’s Land Use Planning Appeal System.
December 12, 2017 Bill 139 received Royal Assent.
November 2017 City Council requested the City Solicitor to report to Planning and Growth Management Committee with recommendations for any potential changes in the City’s processes and procedures that may be required to implement the legislation.
May 2017 Bill 139 introduced by the Province of Ontario.