Review of A Place to Grow and Provincial Policy Statement

ERO number
019-6177
Notice type
Policy
Act
Places to Grow Act, 2005
Posted by
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Notice stage
Proposal
Proposal posted
Comment period
October 25, 2022 - December 30, 2022 (66 days) Open
Last updated

This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on:
December 30, 2022

Proposal summary

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) is undertaking a housing-focused policy review of A Place to Grow and the Provincial Policy Statement. MMAH is seeking input on how to create a streamlined province-wide land use planning policy framework that enables municipalities to approve housing faster and increase housing supply.

Proposal details

Context

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 Ontario’s 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 Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 (PPS) and A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (A Place to Grow) both provide comprehensive, integrated, whole-of-government policy direction on land use planning matters including: 

  • Growth management, housing and economic development;
  • Infrastructure planning and investment, such as sewage, water and stormwater management services, transportation, transit, energy supply and corridor protection; 
  • Protection and management of resources, such as aggregates, natural heritage, water, cultural heritage, recreation and prime agricultural areas; and
  • Protection of public health and safety, such as mitigating potential risks due to natural and human-made hazards.

Both policy documents aim to support the achievement of liveable communities, a thriving economy, a clean and healthy environment and social equity, improving the quality of life for all Ontarians. 

The PPS is issued under the Planning Act and is the primary provincial land use planning policy document, applying across Ontario. A Place to Grow is a growth plan issued under the Places to Grow Act, 2005. It works with the Greenbelt Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, and the Niagara Escarpment Plan to provide a more detailed framework for where and how growth should be accommodated in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. 

Provincial plans build upon the policy foundation of the PPS, providing additional land use policy direction to address issues facing specific geographic areas of Ontario. All provincial plans are to be read in conjunction with the PPS. 

Under the Planning Act, planning decisions shall be consistent with policy statements such as the PPS and shall conform with provincial plans like A Place to Grow. 

Policies of the PPS are outcome-oriented, and some policies allow flexibility in their implementation provided that the original intent of the policy is upheld.

Planning decisions under A Place to Grow must demonstrate that provincial direction is explicitly satisfied, such as including specific population and employment forecasts in official plans, to ensure provincial interests are protected across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

The policies of A Place to Grow take precedence over the policies of the PPS in the event of any conflict, except where the relevant legislation provides otherwise. Where matters addressed in the PPS do not overlap with policies in A Place to Grow, those PPS policies must be independently satisfied.

The current land use planning policy framework in Ontario has evolved over the last three decades. As new policy requirements and provincial plans have been added, longstanding requirements have generally not been removed, particularly for policies that apply to the Greater Golden Horseshoe. What remains is a complex system of overlapping policy instruments that can be difficult to navigate and implement.

Given the importance of the PPS and A Place to Grow in guiding land use planning decisions in Ontario, ensuring that the policy framework is housing-supportive is integral to the implementation of the Housing Supply Action Plan and meeting the target to construct 1.5 million new housing units in the next ten years. 

Proposal

The government is proposing to integrate the PPS and A Place to Grow into a new province-wide planning policy instrument that:

  • Leverages the housing-supportive policies of both policy documents;
  • Removes or streamlines policies that result in duplication, delays or burden in the development of housing; 
  • Ensures key growth management and planning tools are available where needed across the province to increase housing supply and support a range and mix of housing options; 
  • Continues to protect the environment, cultural heritage and public health and safety; and
  • Ensures that growth is supported with the appropriate amount and type of community infrastructure.

The intended outcome of this review is to determine the best approach that would enable municipalities to accelerate the development of housing and increase housing supply (including rural housing), through a more streamlined, province-wide land use planning policy framework. 

The core elements of this new policy instrument could include the approaches outlined below:

Residential Land Supply

  1. Settlement Area Boundary Expansions – streamlined and simplified policy direction that enables municipalities to expand their settlement area boundaries in a coordinated manner with infrastructure planning, in response to changing circumstances, local contexts and market demand to maintain and unlock a sufficient supply of land for housing and future growth
  2. Rural Housing – policy direction that responds to local circumstances and provides increased flexibility to enable more residential development in rural areas, including rural settlement areas
  3. Employment Area Conversions – streamlined and simplified policy direction that enables municipalities to promptly seize opportunities to convert lands within employment areas for new residential and mixed-use development, where appropriate

Attainable Housing Supply and Mix

  1. Housing Mix – policy direction that provides greater certainty that an appropriate range and mix of housing options and densities to meet projected market-based demand and affordable housing needs of current and future residents can be developed, including ground-related housing, missing middle housing, and housing to meet demographic and employment-related needs
  2. Major Transit Station Areas – policy direction that provides greater certainty that major transit station areas would meet minimum density targets to maximize government investments in infrastructure and promote transit supportive densities, where applicable across Ontario
  3. Urban Growth Centres – policy direction that enables municipalities to readily identify centres for urban growth (e.g., existing or emerging downtown areas) as focal points for intensification and provides greater certainty that a sufficient amount of development, in particular housing, will occur 

Growth Management

  1. Population and Employment Forecasts – policy direction that enables municipalities to use the most current, reliable information about the current and future population and employment to determine the amount and type of housing needed and the amount and type of land needed for employment
  2. Intensification – policy direction to increase housing supply through intensification in strategic areas, such as along transit corridors and major transit station areas, in both urban and suburban areas
  3. Large and Fast-growing Municipalities – growth management policies that extend to large and fast-growing municipalities both inside and outside of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including the coordination with major provincial investments in roads, highways and transit

Environment and Natural Resources

  1. Agriculture – policy direction that provides continued protection of prime agricultural areas and promotes Ontario’s Agricultural System, while creating increased flexibility to enable more residential development in rural areas that minimizes negative impacts to farmland and farm operations
  2. Natural Heritage – streamlined policy direction that applies across the province for Ontario’s natural heritage, empowering local decision making, and providing more options to reduce development impacts, including offsetting/compensation (Proposed Updates to the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System)
  3. Natural and human-made hazards - streamlined and clarified policy direction for development in hazard areas, while continuing to protect people and property in areas of highest risk
  4. Aggregates – streamlined and simplified policy direction that ensures access to aggregate resources close to where they are needed
  5. Cultural heritage –policy direction that provides for the identification and continued conservation of cultural heritage resources while creating flexibility to increase housing supply (Proposed Changes to the Ontario Heritage Act and its regulations: Bill 23 (Schedule 6) - the Proposed More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022)

Community Infrastructure

  1. Infrastructure Supply and Capacity – policy direction to increase flexibility for servicing new development (e.g., water and wastewater) and encourage municipalities to undertake long-range integrated infrastructure planning
  2. School Capacity – coordinated policy direction that ensures publicly funded school facilities are part of integrated municipal planning and meet the needs of high growth communities, including the Ministry of Education’s proposal to support the development of an urban schools’ framework for rapidly growing areas

Streamlined Planning Framework

  1. Outcomes-Focused – streamlined, less prescriptive policy direction requiring fewer studies, including a straightforward approach to assessing land needs, that is focused on outcomes
  2. Relevance – streamlined policy direction that focuses on the above-noted land use planning matters and other topics not listed that are also key to land use planning and reflect provincial interests 
  3. Speed and Flexibility – policy direction that reduces the complexity and increases the flexibility of comprehensive reviews, enabling municipalities to implement provincial policy direction faster and easier

Questions:

  1. What are your thoughts on the proposed core elements to be included in a streamlined province-wide land use planning policy instrument? 
  2. What land use planning policies should the government use to increase the supply of housing and support a diversity of housing types?
  3. How should the government further streamline land use planning policy to increase the supply of housing?
  4. What policy concepts from the Provincial Policy Statement and A Place to Grow are helpful for ensuring there is a sufficient supply and mix of housing and should be included in the new policy document? 
  5. What policy concepts in the Provincial Policy Statement and A Place to Grow should be streamlined or not included in the new policy document?

The intent of this consultation is to identify potential opportunities that will complement other provincial priorities and plans. Should this consultation result in impacts to additional provincial plans, beyond the PPS and A Place to Grow, other consultations may take place in the future.

Analysis of Regulatory Impact:

  • The anticipated regulatory impacts of the proposal may vary in the short-term, depending on the status of a municipality’s work to update their official plan. Over time, it is anticipated that the impacts would be positive as the proposed changes are intended to create a streamlined province-wide land use planning policy framework that provides greater flexibility for municipalities to approve housing faster and increase housing supply. While there are no new administrative costs associated with this proposal, depending upon when new policy is brought into effect, some municipalities in the process of updating official plans may experience additional administrative costs if they are required to revise their work.

Comment

Let us know what you think of our proposal.

Have questions? Get in touch with the contact person below. Please include the ERO number for this notice in your email or letter to the contact.

Read our commenting and privacy policies.

Submit online

Submit by mail

Contact

growthplanning@ontario.ca

Office
Provincial Land Use Plans Branch
Address

13th Flr, 777 Bay St
Toronto, ON
M7A 2J3
Canada

Connect with us

Contact

growthplanning@ontario.ca

Office
Provincial Land Use Plans Branch
Address

13th Flr, 777 Bay St
Toronto, ON
M7A 2J3
Canada

Sign up for notifications

We will send you email notifications with any updates related to this consultation. You can change your notification preferences anytime by visiting settings in your profile page.

Follow this notice