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Government releases Bill 139 to replace OMB

Significant changes coming to the planning process in Ontario

June 6, 2017  By OSSGA

June 6, 2017 – Earlier this week, the province tabled Bill 139 in the legislature – the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017 – as part of the review of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Bill 139 will make significant changes to the planning system in the province and replace the OMB with the “Local Planning Appeal Tribunal”. It also seeks to make other major changes that will affect how license hearings are conducted and how aggregate policy is implemented.

OSSGA has submitted numerous comments to the government on the OMB review as it has moved through the consultation process over the past few years, including a submission in December 2016 where we commented on many of the proposed the changes that have now been announced in Bill 139. OSSGA’s Land Use committee will meet next week to discuss the legislation and will begin to prepare our comments and suggested changes.

If passed as proposed, Bill 139 will:

  • Give more weight to local and provincial decisions. It is proposed that major land use planning matters could only be appealed on the grounds that they don’t conform or aren’t consistent with provincial/municipal plans/policies.
  • Bring fewer municipal and provincial decisions before the Tribunal, eliminating appeals of provincially approved municipal official plans and major updates. Municipal interim control by-laws, when first put in place would not be appealable, and applications to change new secondary (neighbourhood) plans would only be allowed within the first two years if the municipality supported them.
  • Make it clear that the Tribunal can only deal with official plan policies that are part of the municipal council’s decision.
  • Remove the ability for anyone to require the Minister of Municipal Affairs to refer a minister’s zoning order to the Tribunal.
  • Expand the authority of local appeal bodies to hear matters related to site plan control, which deals with disputes on individual properties such as things like landscaping, driveways or lighting.
  • Give planning authorities more time to assess planning applications by extending the decision timelines by 30 days in relation to official plans and zoning by-laws.
  • Require the Tribunal to send new material back to the municipality for re-evaluation when adjudicating subdivision appeals if the municipality requests the material be returned.
  • Clarify that policy statements, like the Provincial Policy Statement, may identify matters that require specific provincial approvals for any of the matters provided for in the policy statement.
  • Require that all municipalities to include climate change policies in their official plans.

Comments on the proposed legislation are due August 14, 2017. We encourage all members to review the Bill and to submit comments directly. Once OSSGA’s position has been prepared we will ensure that you have a copy so as to assist you in the preparation of your own remarks.


For more information and background on the Bill you may visit:

Comments on the proposed Bill can be made through (EBR Posting Number: 013-0590) or by email to

Finally, Bill 139 proposes amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act which MNRF is leading – please visit EBR Posting Number: 013-0561.

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