Land Use Compatibility Guideline

ERO number
Notice type
Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision Updated
Decision posted
Comment period
May 4, 2021 - August 6, 2021 (94 days) Closed
Last updated

Update Announcement

We update the notice on April 08, 2022, to correct the error in number of comments receive by mail. The previous number was a duplication of the number received through the registry. This has been corrected now.

This consultation was open from:
May 4, 2021
to August 6, 2021

Decision summary

The ministry is not proceeding with the proposed Land Use Compatibility Guideline as a result of feedback received through the Environmental Registry. The current D-Series guidelines for land use compatibility will remain in effect. Any potential future updates to land use compatibility guidance would be posted as a new proposal on the Registry.

Decision details

Ontario is committed to preventing negative impacts from conflicting land uses within communities, such as the effects of industrial noise and odour pollution on residential areas.

Between May and August 2021, the ministry consulted with a wide range of stakeholders and Indigenous partners on proposed changes to the current land use compatibility guidelines (“D-Series guidelines”) that municipalities and other planning authorities use when making land use planning decisions. The proposed changes aimed to update, renew and consolidate our land use compatibility guidelines to help ensure proper compatibility studies are completed before new sensitive land uses, such as residences, are built near existing major facilities (including industries or industrial areas), and vice versa.

As a result of the extensive interest and nature of the comments received on the proposal, we have decided not to proceed with the proposed version of the Land Use Compatibility Guideline (Guideline) at this time.

The current D-Series guidelines for land use compatibility will remain in effect. The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) and A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (Growth Plan) require land use compatibility decisions to be made in accordance with provincial guidelines. As we are not proceeding with the proposed Guideline, the current D-Series guidelines will continue to be the provincial guidelines referenced in the PPS and Growth Plan land use compatibility policies.

The ministry will continue to review the D-Series land use compatibility guidelines based on stakeholder feedback received to date. Should the ministry decide to update the D-Series, any potential future update will be posted to the Environmental Registry as a proposal for consultation.

Comments received

Through the registry


By email


By mail

View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

We considered input received through:

  • engagement sessions/meetings held with stakeholders and Indigenous communities
  • written comments received on the proposal

Of the 522 written submissions received:

  • 10 were duplicate comments (submitted through the registry and by email)
  • 350 were form-letters that supported specific organizations’ submissions

We received comments from:

  • the public
  • municipalities and related associations
  • developers and related associations
  • industry and related associations
  • consultants and related associations
  • indigenous communities
  • environmental, community and/or other organizations

Most comments received can be grouped into the following themes:

  1. General support on need for new Guideline: Most comments supported the effort to modernize and update the existing D-series guidelines for land use compatibility. A new Guideline was generally welcomed but comments outlined specific concerns with the proposed version of the Guideline.

  2. Transition: Many questions were raised about when the proposed Guideline would come into effect and how that would affect ongoing official plan reviews and development applications under the Planning Act at various stages of the process.

  3. Application of the Guideline: There was some concern over the application of the Guideline to a broad range of planning approvals. Some comments indicated that site plan control/minor variance applications are too far along to be a key decision point for compatibility, and this may be duplicative or ineffective in addressing compatibility. Other concerns were raised about using different planning tools, such as the use of holding provisions.

  4. Classes of major facilities, Area of Influence (AOI) and Minimum Separation Distance (MSD): Comments expressed significant concerns about how larger AOIs/MSDs will impact intensification and ability to meet density targets, as well as increase burden and costs. There were suggestions for incorporating a lower class of major facility with smaller AOIs/MSDs but also some requests for increased AOIs/MSDs for certain types of major facilities. Many commenters raised questions about how the updated AOIs/MSDs were developed. Other questions around how to develop alternate AOIs or how to appropriately classify major facilities were also asked.

  5. Demonstration of need: Comments outlined concerns with evaluation of alternative sites; the need to complete a demonstration of need to determine whether there is an identified need for the proposed use in the proposed location in earlier stages of planning like official plans/zoning; the application of a demonstration of need to only sensitive land use development; additional burden and overlap with existing reports; and being too subjective. Some comments suggested other approaches such as assessing more alternative locations when siting closer to a major facility, requiring the demonstration of need only in certain cases or at the discretion of a municipality, or eliminating the requirement altogether.

  6. Waste infrastructure: Comments expressed concerns about the challenges industry already faces when siting landfills, anerobic digesters and composting facilities. Further, concerns were raised about how changes may impact work completed under the existing D-4 guideline for closed landfill sites.

  7. Aggregates: A significant volume of the comments received expressed concern about specific aggregate proposals and how aggregate operations are generally addressed in the proposed Guideline. Specifically, they feel that the aggregate industry is receiving preferential treatment over sensitive land uses and that the AOI/MSD should apply to new or expanding aggregate facilities.

  8. Cannabis: Many questions were asked on how the Guideline applies to cannabis facilities. There are concerns about cannabis facilities in agricultural areas and how the inconsistent approach may push these facilities to rural areas. Comments expressed a need for guidelines for outdoor operations, along with suggestions to modify how operations are addressed (e.g. a class for micro operations).

  9. Clarification of key concepts: There were some requests to clarify key concept definitions (e.g. sensitive land use), since discretionary interpretations can lead to appeal challenges at the Ontario Land Tribunal. Other concepts such as qualified individuals, worst case scenario and cumulative effects were also requested to be clarified.

  10. Technical clarifications: Comments on clarifications needed for noise and air technical assessments done as part of compatibility studies were provided (e.g. clarifications on Class 4 noise designations). This also included concerns over messaging in the document that at-receptor mitigation is not accepted by the ministry for dust, odour and noise (Class 1-3).

  11. Consultation and engagement: Suggestions to strengthen wording in Guideline related to the importance of engagement and consultation between affected parties were provided, including around Indigenous community engagement and consultation.

  12. Costs: There were concerns that the proposed Guideline would increase costs for planning approval authorities, developers and industry. This includes costs related to undertaking or reviewing compatibility studies, implementing and monitoring of mitigation measures as well as compliance and complaint responses. There were questions on who is responsible for these costs.

  13. Requests for additional consultation on the proposal: There were some requests for more consultation on the proposed Guideline, including through working groups. A proactive education effort was also suggested.

Ministry response

In response to the comments received, we have decided to not move forward with this version of the proposed Guideline. The current D-Series guidelines for land use compatibility will remain in effect.

Given the support for updated guidance, we will continue to:

  • review the D-Series land use compatibility guidelines

  • consider the comments received in our review

Any future updates to land use compatibility guidance, such as a revised version of the proposed Guideline, will be posted as a new proposal for consultation on the Environmental Registry.

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Original proposal

ERO number
Notice type
Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

May 4, 2021 - August 6, 2021 (94 days)

Proposal details


We are proposing a new land use compatibility guideline as an update to a number of existing D-series guidelines for municipalities to use when making land use planning decisions.

We are following through on our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan commitment to update ministry guidelines to help municipalities avoid the impacts of conflicting land uses. The proposed guideline will help ensure certain land uses can co-exist and thrive for the long-term within a community, including

major industrial facilities and more sensitive residential land uses.

It will help to prevent impacts from noise, dust, odour and other potential sources of adverse effects to sensitive land uses from industries which threaten their ability to operate, and would clarify when compatibility studies related to the assessment of potential noise, odour, dust and other impacts are needed.

Land use planning decisions that address land use compatibility would reduce minor noise, odour and dust incidents requiring ministry attention, allowing the ministry to focus its resources on higher-risk incidents. In the long-term, it would help support jobs across the province by providing industrial facilities with more certainty for long-term, uninterrupted operations.

Objectives and application of the Guideline

The objectives of land use compatibility planning in the context of this Guideline are to:

  • protect employment areas (including industrial employment areas) designated for future major facilities from incompatible uses and encroachment by sensitive land uses
  • protect existing or planned major facilities from potential impacts from new sensitive land uses
  • prevent adverse effects to existing or planned sensitive land uses from new and/or expanding major facilities

The Guideline would be applied when an approval under the Planning Act is needed where the decision to be made by the planning authority raises one of the following circumstances:

  • a new or expanding sensitive land use (e.g. a residential subdivision or condominium) is proposed near an existing or planned major facility
  • a new or expanding major facility is proposed near an existing or planned sensitive land use

Highlights of the Guideline

The proposed updated Guideline would inform and clarify to municipalities and other planning authorities when compatibility studies and (if applicable) mitigation measures are required as part of land use planning decisions under the Planning Act to prevent or reduce any adverse effects. To accomplish this, the Guideline proposes:

  • area of influence (AOI) distances associated with specific types and classes of major facilities where adverse effects on sensitive land uses are moderately likely to occur (these distances have been revised from current guidelines based on newer Ministry compliance data)
  • minimum separation distances (MSD) associated with specific types and classes of major facilities where adverse effects on sensitive land uses are highly likely to occur (these distances have been revised from current guidelines based on newer Ministry compliance data)
  • that a compatibility study is required for a new or expanding major facility or a new or expanding sensitive land use proposed in an AOI or MSD, to determine appropriate setbacks and mitigation measures
  • that planning authorities should not allow sensitive uses within the MSD of a major facility except in rare circumstances
  • that a demonstration of need assessment, as required under the Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 (PPS) to assess whether alternate preferred locations exist in the municipality for that proposed land use, is required for a sensitive land use proposed within the AOI of a major facility where mitigation measures are required and where a sensitive land use is proposed within the MSD of a major facility
  • contents of compatibility studies and demonstrations of need, and additional direction and links to technical guidance to assist with the compatibility studies and demonstrations of need
  • guidance on how to incorporate land use compatibility policies and concepts into official plans and as part of approvals under the Planning Act
  • examples of mitigation measures that may help to reduce impacts, as demonstrated in a compatibility study, and discussion on integrating these mitigation measures as legal requirements
  • guidance on planning for land use compatibility in areas of infill and intensification
  • helpful links and information on other guidance that may apply in relation to specific types of facilities
  • guidance specifically related to land use on or near landfills and dumps, and on assessing methane hazards from landfill sites

The primary goal of this proposed Guideline is to reduce land use compatibility issues resulting from new development proposals under the Planning Act that involve sensitive land uses in proximity to major facilities.

The Guideline should also assist with reducing the encroachment of sensitive land uses on existing major facilities.

As a result of modified AOI distances in the new proposed Guideline, compatibility studies would now be required in relation to some land use proposals for which such studies are not currently required under the existing D-series guidelines. A proposed Policy and Forms Impact Analysis (PFIA) is also attached for review and comment.

Other public consultation opportunities

Concurrent with this posting, the Ministry is consulting on a draft Odour Guideline and an approach to modernize environmental compliance practices, including a draft updated Compliance Policy, referral tool and service standards. Refer to the ‘Related links’ section in this notice for additional information on these postings.

Other information

This Guideline will support implementation of the PPS, issued under section 3 of the Planning Act. The PPS includes policies directing land use planning authorities to avoid or minimize and mitigate land use compatibility concerns between major facilities (e.g. industrial uses) and surrounding sensitive land uses (e.g. residences) related to noise, odour and other contaminants.

Similar policies are in a Place to Grow: A Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2020 (APTG). These PPS and APTG policies require that these land use compatibility decisions be made in accordance with any relevant guidance by the Ministry.


Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from May 4, 2021
to August 6, 2021

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Sanjay Coelho

Phone number
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks - Environmental Policy Branch

40 St Clair Avenue West
Floor 10
Toronto, ON

Office phone number