FoNTRA opposes proposed changes to Ontario’s land use planning framework

On April 6, 2023, Ontario announced new components of its Housing Supply Action Plan, which seeks to encourage the construction of 1.5 million homes by 2031. Two key elements of the announcement are the introduction of Bill 97, the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act, 2023, which is currently at second reading stage in the Ontario Legislature, and the release of a draft Provincial Planning Statement, 2023 (the “Statement”), which was out for public comment until August 4, 2023.

The Statement, if it is adopted by the Province, will replace A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (“Growth Plan”) and the Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 (“PPS, 2020”).

The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, prioritized intensification and higher densities to make efficient use of land, supported a mix of housing options, ensured smart use of transit and infrastructure, and protected agricultural and natural areas. Municipalities were expected to align their own official plans with its priorities. Under the new draft Statement, density targets have been watered down or eliminated altogether, and municipalities given flexibility to expand their boundaries. This change is expected to remove the requirement for municipalities to prioritize infill development before expanding urban boundaries to overrun natural lands.

FoNTRA’s report concludes that the proposed Provincial Planning Statement (PPS) and the simultaneous repeal of the Growth Plan for the Golden Horseshoe should not proceed since these initiatives are not only harmful but also entirely unnecessary. FoNTRA, respectfully, urges the government to withdraw the proposed Provincial Planning Statement and to maintain the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

The proposed changes to the PPS are the most consequential to future land use planning decisions across Ontario.

The full text of the FoNTRA’s submission to the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO):