Skip to content

New bill may change Bradford’s building, planning processes yet again

Province introduced Bill 185 on April 10 with the goal of building homes faster by changing 15 other pieces of legislation

Bradford town staff are once again attempting to update planning policies based on ever-changing Ontario government regulations.

Council received three reports for information as well as a presentation from staff explaining some of the dozens of changes to the planning landscape introduced by provincial Bill 185, during the regular council meeting on May 7.

Bill 185, the Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, was introduced by Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra on April 10 with the goal of building homes faster by changing 15 other pieces of legislation including the Planning, Municipal and Development Charges Acts.

The bill passed second reading in the legislature on May 15, and if it receives royal assent, it will become the most recent in a line of provincial Acts which have made ongoing changes to rules and regulations surrounding land-use planning and zoning in the province including: More Homes, More Choices (Bill 108); More Homes for Everyone (Bill 109); More Homes Built Faster (Bill 23); Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants (Bill 97); Affordable Homes and Good Jobs (Bill 134) and, most recently, Get It Done (Bill 162).

The province is also working to combine the Provincial Policy Statement and A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe into a single, province-wide policy framework called the Provincial Planning Statement (PPS).

Town staff have previously reported on the impacts to the town’s growth plan and the difficulty in keeping up with the ongoing changes, an issue with which Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Scott took particular issue during the May 7 meeting calling the bill a “mixed bag” with positive elements that is also “rowing backwards” on “experimentation.”

“Let’s stop with the flip flops, because it’s made building homes more difficult if the Acts are constantly changing,” he said.

Scott added that he agrees with the goal of building more homes but the “unintended chaos” and “stress” to municipalities that has resulted from the province “not doing your homework properly” is “something that I think we could all live without.”

According to reports from Mana Masoudi and Thomas Dysart, senior planners with the town, some of the changes proposed under Bill 185 include eliminating parking requirements (other than for bicycles) near major transit stations (like the Bradford GO Transit station), new rules for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), a “use it or lose it” policy requiring building work to begin within three years of approvals for site plans or draft plans of subdivision, removing third-party appeals for official plan and zoning amendments, allowing appeals of settlement boundary requests, new rules for providing and tracking allocations for town water and sewer services, as well as removing planning authority from upper-tier municipal governments.

The bill sets July 1 as the date for the removal of planning responsibilities for York, Peel and Halton regions, and according to Masoudi, the removal of planning responsibilities for Simcoe County is to be announced at a later date.

Mayor James Leduc said he was happy with some of the changes, but asked if density targets around the GO station will be impacted.

Community planning manager Alan Wiebe said that could depend on the province’s pending approval of Simcoe County Official Plan Amendment No. 7 (SCOPA 7), which itself will likely be impacted by the potential approval of the new PPS.

“There’s lots of things that need to fall before we can actually set our focus on what we’re going to do here in Bradford,” the mayor acknowledged.

The bill also proposes to eliminate Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator (CIHA) requests and impose new rules for Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs).

That could impact the way staff handle their first CIHA request recently received from Bradford Highlands Joint Venture to redevelop the Bradford Highlands Golf Club, and impact the town’s MZO application process adopted earlier this year.

The province’s new Zoning Order Framework from April sets standards for intake thresholds submission expectations and assessments of requests for MZOs, part of which suggests those asking for an MZO should consider if they can demonstrate the need and urgency to override local zoning regulations.

The framework also lists enhanced authorities for the minister of housing to remove municipal use of site plan control, require agreements between municipalities and landowners concerning site plan matters, and require and/or remove inclusionary zoning for affordable housing requirements.

The bill’s various proposed updates to amounts and timelines for development charges would allow municipalities to collect more revenue sooner, and Bradford is proposed to be included in an expanded list of municipalities who are required to share planning information with the province quarterly and annually and post it on their websites.

Overall, Ward 7 Coun. Peter Dykie said he hopes the bill will help to “kick start” development on some of the available residential and industrial land in town.

“We’re not benefiting as the municipality by having these lands sit empty,” he said, adding that in some cases developers may wait 20 to 50 years before developing properties into something that benefits the community and generates more tax revenue. “That would really help our housing situation and affordability in certain areas of town.”

Michael Owen

About the Author: Michael Owen

Michael Owen has worked in news since 2009 and most recently joined Village Media in 2023 as a general assignment reporter for BradfordToday
Read more

Reader Feedback