As a result of legislation passed by the Province of Ontario in response to the State of Emergency, both in general and in relation to land use planning specifically, municipal councils and committees are now empowered, for the duration of the state of emergency, to effectively control the decision-making and appeals process under the Planning Act. This includes the ability to make planning decisions and to issue decision notices. The following is a very brief summary of recent important changes that permit decisions to be made. After April 15, 2020:
- Municipal authorities that wish to render decisions and issue notices on Planning Act matters during the state of emergency may do so.
- Municipal authorities that are unable or choose not to render decisions on Planning Act matters during the state of emergency need not render a decision until after the state of emergency is over, and no appeal rights from a non-decision will accrue.
- If a decision is rendered by a municipal authority during the state of emergency, it will be subject to the usual notice requirements of the Planning Act and will create rights of appeal within the statutory appeal period. If no appeal is filed within the statutory period, the decision is final and is in force. If an appeal is filed within the statutory appeal period (the Regulations do not apply to waive or extend the appeal period), the municipal authority is not obligated to forward the appeal record to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal until after the state of emergency has ended.
As of the date of this article, the City of Ottawa’s Planning Committee, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, and City Council are holding, or are planning to hold, virtual meetings. Municipalities have great latitude as to how they may conduct meetings during this emergency period.
The Committee of Adjustment is accepting applications, and is preparing to hold public hearings via videoconference, though this process has not yet been implemented.
Any decisions that are made by the City of Ottawa during this time will be able to be implemented, provided no appeals are filed.
At this time, the LPAT has postponed all in-person hearings until at least June 30, 2020, and matters are not currently being scheduled.
Please note that this article does constitute legal advice. If you have questions about these changes to the Planning Act timelines, or other municipal, land development or expropriation issues, our lawyers can help. Reach out to Ursula Melinz, Philip Osterhout or Krista Libman.