Real Estate Lawyer on Bill 139: Changes to Land Use Planning Appeal Process

Update on Bill 139: Changes Coming to the Land Use Planning Appeal Process

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Bill 139 received Royal Assent on December 12, 2017 and came into force as the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017. Schedules to the Act, containing legislative amendments, will come into force on the proclamation date, which has yet to be announced. It is anticipated this will occur in the spring of 2018.

Changes Coming to the Ontario Municipal Board

As we discussed in our previous article, “Major Changes Coming to the Ontario Municipal Board”, Bill 139 will bring significant changes to the land use planning appeal process. These changes will shift greater authority into the hands of municipal councils and local planning authorities and away from the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (the “LPAT”), which is to replace the Ontario Municipal Board (the “OMB”).

In addition to the changes we previously discussed, such as the limited scope of appeals and the elimination of de novo hearings, here are a few more changes that the legislation will bring:

  1. The timeline for municipal councils to make a decision on an application is extended by 30 days to 210 days for an official plan amendment, 150 days for a zoning by-law amendment and 210 days for a related official plan and zoning amendment. An appeal can be filed to the LPAT if a decision is not made by the council after the timeline expires.
  2. The Minister is no longer required to refer requests to amend or revoke a Minister’s zoning order to the LPAT. The Minister can use their discretion to refer these requests to the LPAT and is not required to implement the LPAT’s recommendation.
  3. Official plans are required to contain policies relating to affordable housing and climate change and may include policies relating to development around higher order transit stations and stops.


Transitional periods can be a complicated and confusing time, expecially considering the high volume of changes being implemented to the land use planning appeal process.

Here are the province’s proposed regulations, announced on December 7, 2017, for the transition period between the current system under the OMB to the new system under the LPAT:

  • Appeals to the OMB filed before the date of Royal Assent will remain at the OMB.
  • Appeals filed after the proclamation date will be heard at the LPAT.
  • Applications completed before the date of Royal Assent where the appeal is filed before the date of proclamation will be heard at the OMB.
  • Applications completed after the date of Royal Assent where the appeal is filed before the date of proclamation will be heard at the LPAT.

These transitional regulations have not been finalized yet by the provincial government and may be subject to amendments.

Something to Think About

These changes will have significant impacts on landowners, municipalities, developers and future home buyers. With greater authority being given to municipal councils and planning authorities, the process has shifted from focusing on making the best land use planning decisions to a process that is more political in nature.

Additionally, it will be interesting to see how these changes will affect the process at the municipal level. For example, it is possible that there may be a greater emphasis on evidence and procedure at hearings and administrative decisions before municipal councils, because there are greater limitations on what decisions can be appealed to the LPAT. It is important to understand how these changes may impact future planning matters.

Please contact Michael Paiva for more information about Bill 139, or if you require assistance with a local planning appeal.