This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on:
November 5, 2020
A proposal to make a new regulation under the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA) associated with amendments made through the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019. The proposed regulation would provide improved provincial direction on how to use the Act, clearer rules and tools for decision making, and support consistency in appeals processes.
As part of Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan, the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019 made amendments to several pieces of legislation, including the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA). The OHA amendments provide clearer direction and timelines for local decision-makers, heritage professionals and development proponents about protecting heritage properties, and create a consistent appeals process, while maintaining local control over heritage decisions. Some of the amendments require additional details to be prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council through regulation.
The OHA amendments and the associated regulation will help to align municipal decisions in the heritage conservation process with Planning Act processes, improve municipal processes for identifying, designating and managing proposed changes to heritage properties, and improve clarity for property owners and development proponents.
To fulfill the intent of the Housing Supply Action Plan and bring the OHA amendments into force, the following matters are proposed to be prescribed in regulation:
- Principles that a municipal council shall consider when making decisions under specific parts of the OHA.
- Mandatory content for designation by-laws.
- Events which would trigger the new 90-day timeline for issuing a notice of intention to designate and exceptions to when the timeline would apply.
- Exceptions to the new 120-day timeline to pass a designation by-law after a notice of intention to designate has been issued.
- Minimum requirements for complete applications for alteration or demolition of heritage properties.
- Steps that must be taken when council has consented to the demolition or removal of a building or structure, or a heritage attribute.
- Information and material to be provided to Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) when there is an appeal of a municipal decision to help ensure that it has all relevant information necessary to make an appropriate decision.
- Housekeeping amendments related to amending a designation by-law and an owner’s reapplication for the repeal of a designation by-law.
- Transition provisions.
The proposed date for all amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act and the proposed regulations to come into force is January 1, 2021.
The ministry will also be updating the Ontario Heritage Tool Kit to reflect the changes to the OHA. The Ministry will post drafts of the updated guidance documents for public review and comment later in 2020.
A links to the draft of the proposed regulation prepared for consultation purposes is included in this posting. A summary of the regulatory proposal is set out below.
1. Principles to guide municipal decision making
The amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act give authority to prescribe principles that a municipal council shall consider when making decisions under prescribed provisions of Parts IV and V of the Act. The proposed principles relate to the purpose of the Ontario Heritage Act and are intended to help decision-makers better understand what to focus on when making decisions under the Act. The proposed principles are consistent with Ontario’s policy framework for cultural heritage conservation.
2. Mandatory content for designation by-laws
The Ontario Heritage Act amendments provide a regulatory authority to prescribe mandatory content for designation by-laws. The goal is to achieve greater consistency across municipalities and to provide improved clarity for property owners through designation by-laws including:
- Identifying the property for the purposes of locating it and providing an understanding of its layout and components;
- Establishing minimum requirements for the statement of cultural heritage value or interest; and
- Setting standards for describing heritage attributes.
3. 90-day timeline to issue a Notice of Intention to Designate
Amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act establish a new 90-day timeline for issuing a notice of intention to designate (NOID) when the property is subject to prescribed events. It also allows for exceptions to this restriction to be prescribed.
The new timeline is intended to encourage discussions about potential designations with development proponents at an early stage to avoid designation decisions being made late in the land use planning process. The ministry has proposed three triggers which would place this restriction on council’s ability to issue a NOID. These are applications submitted to the municipality for either an official plan amendment, a zoning by-law amendment or a plan of subdivision.
The proposed regulation also provides exceptions to when the 90-day timeline applies. The ministry is proposing the following categories of exceptions.
Mutual agreement – Where an extension of, or exemption from, the 90-day restriction on issuing a NOID is mutually agreed to by the municipality and the property owner who made the application under the Planning Act.
Administrative restrictions – Where municipal council or heritage committee are limited in their ability to reasonably fulfill the statutory requirements for issuing a NOID within the original 90-day timeframe. This would apply in cases of a declared emergency or where a municipal heritage committee would be unable to provide its recommendations to council. The timeframe would be extended by 90 days.
New and relevant information – Where new and relevant information could have an impact on the potential cultural heritage value or interest of the property is revealed and needs further investigation. Council would be able to extend the timeframe through a council resolution. In the case of new and relevant information council would have 180 days from the date of the council resolution to ensure there is sufficient time for further information gathering and analysis to inform council’s decision.
Expiration of restriction – The 90-day restriction on council’s ability to issue a NOID would not remain on the property indefinitely and would no longer apply when the application that originally triggered the 90-day timeframe is finally disposed of under the Planning Act.
The proposed regulation also provides notification requirements related to the exceptions to the 90-day timeframe restriction.
4. 120-day timeline to pass a designation by-law
Amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act establish a new requirement for designation by-laws to be passed within 120 days of issuing a Notice of Intention to Designate (NOID). It also allows for exceptions to be prescribed. The ministry is proposing the following categories for exceptions.
Mutual agreement - Where an extension of, or exemption from, the requirement to pass a by-law within 120 days of issuing a NOID is mutually agreed to by the municipality and the property owner.
Administrative restrictions – Where municipal council is limited in its ability to reasonably fulfill the statutory requirements for passing a designation bylaw within the original 120-day timeframe. This would apply in cases of a declared emergency.
New and relevant information – Where new and relevant information that could have an impact on the potential cultural heritage value or interest of the property is revealed and needs further investigation. Council would be able to extend the timeframe through a council resolution to ensure there is enough time for further information gathering and analysis to inform its decision.
Council would have an additional 180 days from the date of the council resolution to pass the bylaw.
Exceptions allowing for the extension of the 120-day timeframe for passing a by-law must occur prior to the expiry of the initial 120 days. The proposed regulation includes notification requirements related to the exceptions to the 120-day timeframe.
5. 60-day timeline to confirm complete applications, alteration or demolition and contents of complete applications
Amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act establish a new timeline of 60 days for the municipality to respond to a property owner about the completeness of their application for alteration of, or demolition or removal affecting, a designated heritage property. It also provides a regulatory authority for the Province to set out minimum requirements for complete applications.
The purpose of these provincial minimum standards is to ensure transparency so that property owners are aware of what information is required when making an application. The details of what is proposed in regulation reflect current municipal best practices. The proposed regulation also enables municipalities to build on the provincial minimum requirements for complete applications as a way of providing additional flexibility to address specific municipal contexts and practices. Where municipalities choose to add additional requirements, the proposed regulation requires them to use one of the following official instruments: municipal by-law, council resolution or official plan policy.
The proposed regulation establishes that the 60-day timeline for determining if the application is complete and has commenced starts when an application is served on the municipality. It further proposes that applications may now be served through a municipality’s electronic system, in addition to email, mail or in person.
6. Prescribed steps following council's consent to a demolition or removal under s. 34.3
Amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act provide that municipal council consent is required for the demolition or removal of any heritage attributes, in addition to the demolition or removal of a building or structure. This is because removal or demolition of a heritage attribute that is not a building or structure, such as a landscape element that has cultural heritage value, could also impact the cultural heritage value or interest of a property.
Prior to the amendments, where council approved a demolition or removal under s. 34, the Act required council to repeal the designation by-law. However, in cases where only certain heritage attributes have been removed or demolished, or where the demolition or removal was of a structure or building that did not have cultural heritage value or interest, the property might still retain cultural heritage value or interest. In these cases, repeal of the by-law would not be appropriate.
The proposed regulation provides municipalities with improved flexibility by requiring council to first determine the impact, if any, of the demolition or removal on the cultural heritage value or interest of the property and the corresponding description of heritage attributes. Based on the determination council makes, it is required to take the appropriate administrative action, which ranges from issuing a notice that no changes to the by-law are required, to amending the by-law as appropriate, to repealing the by-law. Council’s determination and the required administrative actions that follow are not appealable to LPAT.
The proposed regulation provides that, where council has agreed to the removal of a building or structure from a designated property to be relocated to a new property, council may follow an abbreviated process for designating the receiving property. The proposed regulation provides a series of administrative steps to support the designation by-law. Council’s determination that the new property has cultural heritage value or interest and the subsequent designation by-law made under this proposed regulation would not be appealable to LPAT.
7. Information to be provided to LPAT upon an appeal
With the exception of decisions made under section 34.3 as described above, all final municipal decisions related to designation, amendment and repeal, as well as alteration of a heritage property under the Act will now be appealable to LPAT, in addition to decisions related to demolition and Heritage Conservation Districts, which were already appealable to LPAT. The decisions of LPAT are binding. Preliminary objections to designation matters will now be made to the municipality, before the final decision is made. Prior to the amendments, appeals of designation-related notices or appeals of alteration decisions were made to the Conservation Review Board, whose decisions were not binding.
A regulatory authority was added to ensure that appropriate information and materials related to designations, alteration and demolition decisions are forwarded to the LPAT to inform appeals. The proposed regulation outlines which materials and information must be forwarded for every LPAT appeal process in the Act by the clerk within 15 calendar days of the municipality’s decision.
8. Housekeeping amendments
Amendments to the Act included regulatory authority to address a few housekeeping matters through regulation. Previously, where a municipality proposed to make substantial amendments to an existing designation by-law it stated that the designation process in section 29 applied with necessary modifications. The proposed regulation clearly sets out the modified process, including revised language that is more appropriate for an amending by-law.
The proposed regulation also makes it clear that there is no 90-day restriction on issuing a notice of proposed amendment to a by-law and provides that council has 365 days from issuing the notice of proposed amendment to pass the final amending by-law and that this timeframe can only be extended through mutual agreement.
The proposed regulation also outlines restrictions on a property owner’s ability to reapply for repeal of a designation by-law where the application was unsuccessful, unless council consents otherwise. The one-year restriction on an owner’s reapplication maintains what had been included in the Act prior to the amendments.
Section 71 of the Ontario Heritage Act establishes a regulation-making authority for transitional matters to facilitate the implementation of the amendments, including to deal with any problems or issues arising as a result of amendments. The proposed transition rules provide clarity on matters that are already in progress at the time the amendments come into force.
General Transition Rule
All processes that commenced on a date prior to proclamation would follow the process and requirements set out in the Act as it read the day before proclamation. The proposed regulation sets out the specific triggers for determining if a process had commenced.
Outstanding notices of intention to designate
Where council has published a notice of intention to designate but has not yet withdrawn the notice or passed the by-law at the time of proclamation, the municipality will have 365 days from proclamation to pass the by-law, otherwise the notice will be deemed withdrawn. Where a notice of intention to designate has been referred to the Conservation Review Board, the 365 days would be paused until the Board either issues its report or until the objection has been withdrawn, whichever occurs earlier.
90-Day restriction on issuing a NOID
The 90-day restriction on council's ability to issue a NOID would only apply where all notices of complete application have been issued by the municipality in relation to a prescribed Planning Act application, on or after proclamation.
Prescribed steps following council’s consent to demolition or removal (s. 34.3)
The ministry is proposing that the prescribed steps would apply following consent to an application by the municipality or by order of the Tribunal, where at the time of proclamation council had not already repealed the by-law under s. 34.3.
Regulatory Impact Assessment
The objective of the proposed regulation is to improve provincial direction on how to use the Ontario Heritage Act, provide clearer rules and tools for decision making, and support consistency in the appeals process. Direct compliance costs and administrative burdens associated with the proposed regulations are unknown at this time. New rules and tools set out in the proposed regulations are expected to result in faster development approvals.
There are anticipated social and environmental benefits as the proposed regulation seeks to achieve greater consistency to protecting and managing heritage property across the province.
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