This consultation was open from:
October 25, 2022
to December 30, 2022
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is seeking feedback on a proposal to revoke the Parkway Belt West Plan, 1978, under the Ontario Planning and Development Act, 1994.
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Everyone in Ontario should be able to find a home that is right for them. But too many people are struggling with the rising cost of living and with finding housing that meets their family’s needs.
Ontario’s housing supply crisis is a problem which has been decades in the making. It will take both short-term strategies and long-term commitment from all levels of government, the private sector, and not-for-profits to drive change. Each entity will have to do their part to be part of the solution to this crisis.
Ontario needs more housing, and we need it now. That’s why the Ontario government is taking bold and transformative action to get 1.5 million homes built over the next 10 years.
To support More Homes Built Faster: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan: 2022-2023, the government introduced the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, which, if passed, would ensure that cities, towns, and rural communities grow with a mix of ownership and rental housing types that meet the needs of all Ontarians. These visionary changes will place Ontario at the forefront of housing policy in North America.
These changes are providing a solid foundation to address Ontario’s housing supply crisis over the long term and will be supplemented by continued action in the future.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is seeking feedback on a proposal to revoke the Parkway Belt West Plan, 1978, (the “Plan”) to support the government’s commitment to streamline, reduce, and eliminate burdens and to potentially increase housing supply.
Under subsection 4(8) of the Ontario Planning and Development Act, 1994, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing may, with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, by order, revoke the plan.
The Parkway Belt West Plan is Ontario’s first provincial land use plan, originally created in 1978 by Order-in-Council under the authority of the Parkway Belt Planning and Development Act, 1978. The Plan is now under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Planning and Development Act, 1994.
The Plan is located within the Parkway Belt West Planning Area which was originally established under Ontario Regulation 472/73 and is generally shown on Map 1 of the Plan.
In 1973, fourteen Minister’s Zoning Orders were also put in place to identify, protect lands and specify permitted uses and standards to support the implementation of the Plan.
Geographic Area of the Parkway Belt West Plan
The Parkway Belt West stretches 120 km from the City of Hamilton to the City of Markham and currently covers approximately 12,070 ha or 29,830 acres (the original area in 1978 was approximately 21,350 ha or 52,757 acres) – generally along the Highway 407 corridor. It crosses a number of municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including:
- City of Hamilton
- Halton Region
- City of Burlington
- Town of Oakville
- Town of Milton
- Town of Halton Hills
- Region of Peel
- City of Mississauga
- City of Brampton
- City of Toronto
- York Region
- City of Vaughan
- City of Richmond Hill
- City of Markham
Parkway Belt West Plan’s Goals and Land Use Designations
The Plan is comprised of both policies and maps and is supported by associated Minister’s Zoning Orders in some cases.
The Plan was originally created with four goals:
- Provide separation and definition of urban area boundaries;
- Create links between urban areas by providing space for movement of people, goods, energy, and information (e.g., Hwy 407, inter-urban transit);
- Provide a land reserve for future linear facilities (e.g., hydro corridors); and,
- Provide a system of open space and recreational facilities (e.g., public open space, golf driving ranges).
There are two general land use designations in the Plan:
- Public Use Areas:
- Mainly for infrastructure (Utility, Electric Power Facility, Roads, Inter-Urban Transit) and open space;
- Generally, reflects areas where infrastructure has been built.
- Complementary Use Areas:
- Mainly for uses that help preserve open spaces and encourage agricultural, recreational, and institutional land uses.
Amendments have been made to the Plan to redesignate and/or remove lands over the years, with the Plan’s focus evolving to support an infrastructure corridor.
Municipalities’ official plans and local zoning by-laws reflect the policies and mapping of the Plan, and MZOs (in most cases). The Ministry supports municipalities with the implementation of the Plan and MZOs through interpretation of Plan policies and mapping and MZOs given the complexity that has resulted from the number of amendments made over the last forty years.
While nine of the original fourteen Minister’s Zoning Orders made in 1973 were repealed in areas where the municipal zoning by-laws were brought into conformity with the Plan, there are five MZOs that remain. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is responsible for making decisions on amendments to the remaining MZOs in Burlington, Oakville, Richmond Hill, Markham, and Toronto.
Anyone (e.g., municipalities, agencies, landowners, etc.) can apply to the Ministry to amend or revoke the Plan and/or Municipal Zoning Orders. Amendments are often to permit temporary uses, additions to parking lots or new parking lots, the rebuilding of a structure to allow greater lot coverage and to increase allowable storage areas.
Plan amendments can include policy and/or land use changes, re-designations or removals of land. MZO amendments are often for the removal of land or to change development standards (i.e., setbacks, re-building and lot coverage). The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is the approval authority for these applications. The application process has created additional burden with the layer of provincial approvals required for amendments to an outdated plan, resulting in added time and costs at all levels.
Success and Current Challenges
The Plan has been successful over the years in protecting transportation and utility corridors for projects (e.g., Hwy 403, Hwy 407, transitway corridors, hydro corridors) that were planned for, and most of which were built decades ago.
Over the years, provincial legislation, land use policies (e.g., Provincial Policy Statement) and provincial plans have provided a more modernized and up-to-date policy framework that has resulted in the Parkway Belt West Plan becoming outdated. This includes policies in the Provincial Policy Statement and Provincial Plans related to infrastructure, natural heritage, agriculture, parks and open space.
The Parkway Belt West Plan and the Minister’s Zoning Orders have been amended over 200 times to make Plan policy changes and re-designate or remove lands from the Parkway Belt West Plan.
This has resulted in a 43% reduction in size of the Plan’s original area of 21,350 ha (52,757 acres) in 1978, to its current size of 12,070 ha (29,830 acres). Non-Infrastructure designations have experienced nearly 100% of the Plan’s reduction.
Over time, through these amendments, many of the non-infrastructure policies have been removed from the Plan, resulting in the goals of the Plan that support providing open space, encouraging recreation, institutional and agricultural uses no longer being applicable.
Other related information
Should the Parkway Belt West Plan be revoked, the remaining associated Minister Zoning Orders would also need to be revoked or deemed as local zoning by-laws.
This would be subject to a separate process that would include notification of the proposal through a future Environmental Registry of Ontario posting.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
- The anticipated regulatory impacts of the proposal are positive. The proposed revocation of this 1978 Plan is intended to provide greater certainty and clarity on regulatory requirements for the lands subject to the PBWP. Stakeholders (e.g., infrastructure agencies, landowners) would no longer have to apply for Plan amendments ($6,737 each) to permit uses or remove lands from the Plan. Eliminating the Plan would reduce regulatory and financial burdens by removing the usual need for amendments to this outdated Plan that are administered by MMAH, while making processes more predictable across the fourteen impacted municipalities. While there are no new administrative costs associated with this proposal, municipalities may experience some minor administrative costs resulting from the need to update their official plans to remove references to Plan mapping and policies that would no longer exist and may need to fill if there are policy gaps.
View materials in person
Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.
Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.