What is a Planning Act Dispute?
Ontario’s Planning Act is in place to provide municipalities, and its citizens, the opportunity to plan, document and determine land-use to improve the quality of life in their respective communities. Ultimately, the Act ensures that the proper tools and processes are provided to a municipality when discussing land-use, as well as protecting the public’s best interests. The processes under the Act are made to be fair, as they are open, accessible, timely and efficient.
Fortunately, through the accessibility highlighted under the Act, individuals in a municipality can speak up and apply for an appeal to any proposed plans of land-use through a Planning Act Dispute.
What the Planning Act covers?
The Planning Act is a general, multi-faceted Act that ensures that development and land-use is conducted in safe and appropriate locations. It provides the basis for:
- The identification of any issues pertaining to provincial land-use.
- This includes the need to protect agricultural land/resources and the development of safe and healthy communities.
- The preparation of any policies to guide the development or use of land
- The role that the municipalities play in administering local land-use planning, and addressing what decision making roles are necessary for planning matters when moving forward with planning applications.
- The control of development through tools.
- Emphasizing municipal zoning by-laws and site plans.
- The processes concerning the division of land through subdivisions, and the consent to severed land.
- Addresses the role of Ontario’s Municipal Board when adjudicating land-use planning disputes.
While looking at the overall well-being of a community, the Act also pertains to expansion in commercial or residential areas, as well as the use of land associated with that expansion. The Act is not just for general land-use (shared areas like green spaces, parks or recreational centres) but it is also in place for the building of plazas, malls or the development of residential living quarters like condominiums or subdivisions.
The role of a dispute
There are several reasons why a dispute can be brought forward to a municipality; or, if not resolved, Ontario’s Municipal Board. Essentially, they are in place to provide citizens of a municipality with a voice in regards to land-use, community health, quality of life and even the value of land.
Every aspect in the planning and execution of new development or land-use is open to dispute if it poses a risk to any of the listed issues above. If it poses a health risk to a community or citizens are being taken advantage of, then they have the opportunity to speak up throughout the process and have their concerns heard.
After a dispute is filed, municipalities have several options available to them. Under Ontario’s Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, municipalities have 90 days to resolves issues – that pertain to official plans or amendments – locally. Also, they have access to easier and more efficient means of resolution before going to the Ontario Municipal Board. Municipalities have the right to engage in alternative dispute resolution with its members and citizens where the option to appeal some aspects of plans or amendments for land-use can be removed.
However, if disputes are not resolved, then the dispute will go in front of a tribunal of Ontario Municipal Board members. This is where legal counsel and advice can be crucial as an asset moving forward.
Things to keep in mind
The Civil Litigation team at Hummingbird Law can stand for you, making sure that the dispute resolution techniques are appropriate when looking at any unique case. Whether the resolution is being locally held with the municipality and is it just legal advice you are seeking, or it is in front of the tribunal where legal counsel and expertise can be an asset, Hummingbird Law can help.
Contact Hummingbird Law today if your Planning Act Dispute has not been resolved. Their experience in Commercial and Residential Real Estate Litigation ensures that your dispute is can be taken care of, or resolved, in an appropriate and pragmatic manner.