Thursday 29 February 1996
Land Use Planning and Protection Act, 1995, Bill 20, Mr Leach / Loi de 1995 sur la protection et l'aménagement de territoire, projet de loi 20, M Leach
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Chair / Président: Gilchrist, Steve (Scarborough East / -Est PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Fisher, Barbara (Bruce PC)
*Baird, John R. (Nepean PC)
Carroll, Jack (Chatham-Kent PC)
Christopherson, David (Hamilton Centre / -Centre ND)
Chudleigh, Ted (Halton North / -Nord PC)
*Churley, Marilyn (Riverdale ND)
Duncan, Dwight (Windsor-Walkerville L)
*Fisher, Barbara (Bruce PC)
Gilchrist, Steve (Scarborough East / -Est PC)
Hoy, Pat (Essex-Kent L)
*Lalonde, Jean-Marc (Prescott and Russell / Prescott et Russell L)
Maves, Bart (Niagara Falls PC)
*Murdoch, Bill (Grey-Owen Sound PC)
Ouellette, Jerry J. (Oshawa PC)
Tascona, Joseph (Simcoe Centre / -Centre PC)
*In attendance / présents
Substitutions present / Membres remplaçants présents:
Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South / -Sud ND) for Mr Christopherson
Bradley, James (St Catharines L) for Mr Duncan
Carr, Gary (Oakville South / -Sud PC) for Mr Maves
Conway, Sean (Renfrew North / -Nord L) for Mr Hoy
Galt, Doug (Northumberland PC) for Mr Tascona
Hardeman, Ernie (Oxford PC) for Mr Carroll
Newman, Dan (Scarborough Centre / -Centre PC) for Mr Baird
Smith, Bruce (Middlesex PC) for Mr Chudleigh
Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:
Stockwell, Chris (Etobicoke West / -Ouest PC)
Elaine Ross, legal services branch--municipal affairs, Ministry of the Attorney General
Clerk / Greffier: Douglas Arnott
Staff / Personnel: Laura Hopkins, legislative counsel
The committee met at 0910 in room 228.
LAND USE PLANNING AND PROTECTION ACT, 1995 / LOI DE 1995 SUR LA PROTECTION ET L'AMÉNAGEMENT DU TERRITOIRE
Consideration of Bill 20, An Act to promote economic growth and protect the environment by streamlining the land use planning and development system through amendments related to planning, development, municipal and heritage matters / Projet de loi 20, Loi visant à promouvoir la croissance économique et à protéger l'environnement en rationalisant le système d'aménagement et de mise en valeur du territoire au moyen de modifications touchant des questions relatives à l'aménagement, la mise en valeur, les municipalités et le patrimoine.
The Chair (Mr Steve Gilchrist): Seeing a quorum present, I call the meeting to order.
Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): After further consultation, the government is still of the opinion that the 90 days in Bill 20 is appropriate rather than extending to 120 days. If an application is not proceeding and local council is not in the process of making a decision, we do not feel it appropriate that the applicant should have to wait 120 days before they would be allowed to appeal it to the Ontario Municipal Board. We feel that if the application was proceeding, it would be to the advantage of all concerned not to proceed with the appeal, but we do think the option should be there if things were not proceeding in the appropriate manner. So we will not be supporting the amendment.
The Chair: Any further discussion on that motion?
Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): You say that the developer will have to proceed with the appeal to the OMB, but you have to remember that it is going to incur some costs to the municipality to go to the OMB. This is what we're looking at. If the municipality has to hire a consultant and then hire planners to be in front of the OMB after, it's going to be a cost added.
One thing I said yesterday is that most of the municipalities have a bylaw that has a set fee for a zoning amendment or official plan amendment. They will have to come up with a new bylaw to change the fee or change the text within their bylaw that if it goes to the OMB, additional costs will be added to the bill.
Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Mr Lalonde makes a very good point, and it was made yesterday. For what reason does the minister not want to reconsider this? I mean, he makes a very good point, and obviously government members felt as well that a good point was being made here. Perhaps you explained it in your opening remarks about this, but I still don't understand why you're not willing to consider this.
Mr Hardeman: As to the cost of the application or the cost to the municipality of going to the Ontario Municipal Board, the cost of doing that would be identical whether it was done at the 90-day deadline or whether it was done at the 180-day or the 120-day deadline, for that matter. The reason the government feels it inappropriate to extend that is that we believe that in situations where council is not prepared to make a decision, 90 days for seeing whether they are or are not going to do that is sufficient time.
In those situations where the process is under way but is being delayed for certain studies or certain things that the planning department is doing that they could not accomplish in the 90 days, there would be absolutely no benefit to anyone requesting to go to the OMB because they have reached a 90-day deadline. They would in all probability carry on in that process to reach a conclusion so council could make a decision. There would be no benefit to anyone to taking a no decision from council and going to the Ontario Municipal Board unless they were convinced that they could not proceed in a timely fashion with the local municipality.
We see this as a way of shortening the time frame but not really penalizing anyone in the process.
Mr Lalonde: In the past, some municipalities had a hard time to meet those 180 days, and I agree with the PA, Mr Hardeman, that probably a municipality didn't proceed fast enough; they just kept putting it to the side. But cutting it down by half, 50%, from 180 days to 90 days, we think is going a little bit too far.
The Chair: Any further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Those contrary? I deem the amendment to fail.
I believe there were successful amendments to section 9, so I'll put the question. Shall section 9 carry as amended? All those in favour? Contrary? That section carries.
Seeing no amendments put forward for sections 10 through 12, are there any comments, questions or suggestions for sections 10 through 12?
Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour that sections 10 through 12 carry? Contrary? Those sections carry.
Are there any comments, questions or suggestions regarding section 13?
Mr Hardeman: I move that clause 22(1)(a) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 13 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(a) forward a copy of the request and the information and material required under subsection (4) to the appropriate approval authority, whether or not the requested amendment is exempt from approval; and."
Ms Churley: Okay, tell us what that means.
Mr Hardeman: This is a consequential amendment to remove the phrase that the prescribed information is "required by council due to changes under subsection (4)." The current provision provides that upon receipt of a request to amend the official plan, the council shall forward the prescribed information material that a council may require by bylaw under subsection 22(4) to the approval authority. The provision that council may pass a bylaw before it can require the proponent to submit the prescribed information and material is to be removed from subsection 22(4) because it may give the erroneous impression that council can add to the prescribed information by bylaw. The provision will specify that the proponent must submit the prescribed information and material to council on a private official plan amendment whether or not the council passes the bylaw. The submission of the prescribed information will trigger the time period for the right of appeal to begin.
In simple terms, the prescribed information will be in the bill as that which is designated by the minister. The municipalities will not be able to increase the prescribed information which triggers the time starting for an appeal. When an applicant puts in an application with the ministry-prescribed information the clock starts to tick. The municipality cannot add information to that list and delay the starting of the time frame from the introduction of the application to the appeal period.
Ms Churley: To be even more simplistic on this, can you give me an example, a very concrete example of a situation where that could happen and delay things? I don't quite understand where this is coming from.
Mr Hardeman: As the minister has prescribed this certain group of criteria that has to be met to be a completed application, the municipality may decide that it would require more on that application to make an educated decision on that application. If it was a development application, it may require a market study for council to adequately make a judgement on that application. That would not be necessarily a required criterion in the list that the minister has prepared. This is to make sure that the time starts when they file the original application with the prescribed information, not with that information that the municipality has prescribed beyond that.
Ms Churley: So within that time frame they can prescribe, but after that deadline that's it?
Mr Hardeman: No. The prescribed information from the minister is the only thing required by any applicant to start the clock on an application. The municipality may require more information in the process of reviewing the application, but the time lines are ticking on.
Ms Churley: But the clock starts there; I see.
The Chair: Any further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? I deem the amendment to pass.
Are there any further amendments to section 13? I think the NDP one is the next one there.
Ms Churley: I move that clause 22(1)(b) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 13 of the bill, be amended by striking out "65 days" in the first line and substituting "120 days."
This is again dealing with time frames, in this case for municipalities to deal with applications to amend the official plans. The current legislation provides that it must be referred to a public meeting after 120 days. The reduced time frame neither permits adequate study of major changes to directions established by the municipal council, nor does it recognize official plans as documents with some degree of permanence. It assumes official plans can be constantly amended as though they have no long-term substance. While the change might seem to help streamline the process, once again it's going to lead to difficult and time-consuming debates about where exactly the municipality is headed. So time will be lost, not saved. I think it's important that we bring the time frame back to 120 days to permit for greater public participation.
This comes back to the same argument I've made time and time again throughout this bill and that you'll hear more of, that the public is not the problem here. Public participation, in my view and I think the public's view and I'll bet you in many municipalities particularly a developer's view -- things get held up at the bureaucratic level constantly. Reducing the time for public participation is just not fair. It's not getting at some of the real problems.
This is a case where once again throughout the bill you're going to find out that you're going to lose time, you're not going to save time, so on both counts: You're reducing time for public participation, and it's not going to save time. If you look at it from the proper perspective here and see what's really going on, you wouldn't do this. I assume the parliamentary assistant is going to dispute that, and we're not going to agree.
I think Mr Sewell made it very clear after his extensive consultation and his really profound knowledge of how the system works and where the problems are. He has a tremendous amount of expertise in the area that we really should pay attention to. He's convinced that time will be lost here, not saved. I don't know if those comments were taken into account at all by the government when it looked at reducing this time frame.
Mr Hardeman: I just want to point out that the time frame that's being proposed to be extended is in fact the time frame to get to a public meeting. It is not an opportunity to prohibit or to eliminate the public participation; it's the time line between which a private amendment to the official plan is proposed and the time which the municipality has in order to call the public meeting for that public participation. So we think that the time line of the proposed time is appropriate.
Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): With respect, parliamentary assistant, I think you're looking at clause 22(1)(b); we're talking about clause 22(1)(a) here. Clause 22(1)(a) is the "forward a copy of the request and the information and material...under subsection (4)."
No. I apologize. I'm looking at the government motion. Excuse me.
Mr Hardeman: Thank you. I think my former remarks stand.
Mr Bisson: They do.
Mr Hardeman: It is the time frame between the time that the clock started to tick on the amendment and that the municipality must hold a public meeting for public participation.
Mr Bisson: Okay. Now we're on the clause that I did want to make a comment on. Just for clarification first, clause 22(1)(a) we haven't dealt with yet, have we? The government motion.
The Chair: Clause 22(1)(a)?
Ms Churley: Yes.
Mr Bisson: Is has been dealt with?
The Chair: It was passed.
Mr Bisson: I forgot to turn the page. Very good. Thank you.
On the subsection 22(b) in regard to the 65 days, the question I would have is, what was the notice requirement pre-Bill 163 for the public meeting?
Mr Hardeman: I'm informed that it was 90 days in 163.
Mr Bisson: Okay. You're saying it went from 90 days to 120 days under Bill 163.
Mr Hardeman: My apologies; a correction. It was 120 days.
Mr Bisson: So it stayed at 120 days. I thought so. The point here is that often, as you well know, when amendments to the official plan are sought because of a particular development, one of the problems that we encounter is that there's always somebody in the area who has views one way or another that they'd want to express in regard to the particular amendments that are being sought. My experience has been, in the communities I have deal with -- allowing the proper amount of time for the public to be involved, number one, but more importantly, I would say for the public to be informed only adds and strengthens the planning process to make sure that people have an adequate opportunity to find out that the public meeting is going to happen so that they're able to prepare themselves to go there, they're able to take a look at what the council is proposing on behalf of the applicant and are able to come together to that meeting with some understanding of what the issue actually is.
I'm saying the gist of all this is that if you have a public meeting and it's where people are just coming in off the mark -- "I just heard about it two days ago and I'm upset and I'm coming down in order to voice my opinion" -- compared to trying to get people to come in with as much information as possible so that you can have a logical debate and a good presentation, I think the time required under 163 was not all that onerous at 120 days. I think it only strengthens the process. People are able to come into that meeting much more informed. Often what happens, and I don't know why this is -- it's just the way it is -- most people tend not to find out about these things until fairly late into the process. I worry somewhat that the 65 days is going to be inadequate in allowing the public sufficient time to get prepared to come to the meetings and even to find out about them.
The question I'm asking the parliamentary assistant is -- I asked you this question earlier yesterday -- do you believe that the planning process could be made stronger by greater public involvement?
Mr Hardeman: No, I don't believe that the planning process would be strengthened by removing public involvement.
Mr Bisson: That's not what I asked. What I asked was, do you not believe that the planning process is made stronger by public involvement?
Mr Hardeman: I believe Hansard will show that I did answer that question quite directly yesterday.
Mr Bisson: And the answer is?
Mr Hardeman: Yes.
Mr Bisson: If your answer is yes, to have the public involved, number one, you need to have sufficient time for them to find out; and number two, to get ready so that they can properly understand the issue coming into the meeting. I'm trying to say to you that I've seen examples in my community where people have found out, even though the requirements -- that's why I asked the pre-163 issue. I can think of two projects, amendments to subdivision plans, where people came to the meeting, finding out maybe a week or two before, and that was at 120 days. How are they going to find out within 65, is what I'm saying.
Mr Hardeman: In the process, if the time lines would be changed -- this is the time line that requires municipalities to hold that public meeting -- if you lengthen that time line, it does increase the length of time involved in the planning process, but the notification times would also in all probability be extended. So the length of time that the public would have to participate, coming into the public meeting, would in all probability not be lengthened. They would find out about the application at the three-month interval as opposed to finding out at the one-month interval, and the public meeting would be held approximately the same distance from the notification and the public meeting. So we feel this is an improvement in the time line of getting an application approved.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It's a problem for the public, but the background problem, I emphasize again for everybody concerned, is that all levels of government, including municipalities, are reducing staff. While I recognize we're talking about something more in the public domain here, the preparation time available to the municipality is also reduced. I'm not convinced, with the drastic cuts we're seeing in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and other ministries, in the municipalities themselves and in the various agencies, boards and commissions, that we're wise in moving this time line as your bill suggests to the extent that you have suggested. There may have been a compromise somewhere along the line that you might have found, but this is a fairly substantial movement on that date. I think you're going to find problems arising as a result of this, which is why I support the motion.
The Chair: Any further comments? Seeing none, I'll put the question.
Ms Churley: Recorded vote.
Bisson, Bradley, Churley, Lalonde.
Baird, Carr, Fisher, Galt, Hardeman, Murdoch, Smith.
The Chair: I deem that amendment to fail. Any further amendments?
Mr Bisson: We have another motion, section 13 of the bill, clause 22(2)(b) of the Planning Act.
I move that clause 22(2)(b) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 13 of the bill, be amended by striking out "65 days" in the first line and substituting "120 days."
I guess it's the same argument. The government voted in opposition to the first amendment. They're obviously going to vote opposed to this one.
Just by way of example, I'll give you an idea of what we're trying to get at here. The city of Timmins, in preparing to build a second river crossing across the Mattagami River was quite a public process. I would say all the people knew about that project for some 10 years. It was sought after first of all under a Conservative government, through Alan Pope as our sitting member at the time, it was sought through the Liberal government, it was sought finally through the New Democrats, and I'm glad to say we were able to deliver it.
The point I'm getting at here is that even though this was a very public process where there was hardly anybody who did not know about this project going forward, it required a change to the official plan because of where they wanted to put the access roads coming into the bridge. They needed to change it because they were going to cut right across what was on the official plan a subdivision, so there needed to be some changes from residential to industrial, if I remember correctly.
That's why I asked the question a little while ago of how long it was pre-163. The notifications that were given to the public in order to come to the meeting, in order to take a look at them -- if I remember correctly, that meeting took place shortly before I was elected, or just after 1990. There were I would say a lot of people who showed up at that meeting, but what really struck me was the number of people there who said they had only heard about this particular meeting within a fairly short period of time a couple of weeks before.
I guess I come back to the same point again. With such a public project, which everybody knew was going on and didn't find out about the notice of the meeting until two weeks before the 120-day deadline, I wonder how well people are going to be prepared to do that within 65. I would repeat the argument from Mr Bradley, that with the reduction in staffing that municipalities are going to have to do to their planning departments and to their municipalities overall because of provincial cuts, they're really not going to have the staff to be able to deal with this adequately, to do the kind of outreach that happened at that time, where the city of Timmins was very proactive in getting the public involved.
I didn't convince you?
Mr Hardeman: As the member said, I think it's quite evident that this is an identical motion to the previous one as it relates to planning boards as opposed to council. I point out that in a previous amendment, to the act, that was dealt with, we have included the fact that we have a 20-day period where the official plan amendment must be presented to the public prior to the meeting. I think that part of it makes this system far improved over Bill 163, where though there were longer days to call the public meeting, no information was mandated to be given to the public to help in their deliberations prior to that public meeting.
Though the time frames are somewhat shorter, we think that the involvement of the public will be increased and their ability to deal with the application will be increased because they will be provided with information prior to that meeting.
Mr Bisson: I hear what you're saying, but I think it's not a bad idea with regard to the other amendment you put forward with regard to requiring the information that has been put forward.
I just want for the record to show that I really believe you need to have, and that for good planning to happen there has to be, public participation, and to have public participation, you need to have adequate time to get people to organize and mobilize and come to those meetings.
The Chair: Any further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? That amendment fails.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 22(4) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 13 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(4) A person or public body that requests an amendment to the official plan of a municipality or planning board shall provide the prescribed information and material to the council or planning board."
This a clarification for dealing with the prescribed information, as prescribed by the minister, that it must be provided for the clock to start to tick on an application, that the municipality cannot by bylaw require further information, but the proposal or the private amendment must provide all that required information in its application.
The Chair: Any further comment? All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? That amendment is deemed passed.
Mr Bradley: I move that subsections 22(4) and (5) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 13 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(4) A council or a planning board may require a person or public body that requests an amendment to its official plan submit such information and material as the council or board considers necessary to determine the matter."
Mr Hardeman: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I believe that's a resolution or amendment totally contrary to the amendment that was just passed.
Mr Bisson: What should have happened is that we should have dealt with the opposition motion first, and then the government motion. I think there's been a bit of a slipup here.
Mr Bradley: What happened was, in our chronologically ordered one, the government amendment came first, so I let the government amendment come first.
Mr Bisson: That's how we ended up that situation.
Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): What you're saying is you want to use yours instead of ours.
Ms Churley: Well, the difference is, it gives council discretion.
The Chair: The clerk informs me it can be considered. Mr Bradley.
Mr Bradley: All right, I will proceed with the little speech on it.
This motion allows municipalities to determine by bylaw what constitutes a complete planning application with regard to an official plan amendment. The existing act and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing can determine in part what constitutes a complete application.
Currently, a complete application as defined does not include enough information for council to make an informed decision on the planning merits of an application. For example, a preliminary storm water management report is not prescribed information for subdivision applications, nor is a soil study if the site was formerly used for industrial purposes.
In such instances, how can a municipality make a sound decision that safeguards the interests of the community and the environment? When presented with an inadequate application, the time limits prescribed in the act will continue to run, and a proponent may then appeal to the OMB if a decision has not being made.
Municipalities must have the authority to pass a bylaw setting out what information is required for a complete application in addition to the legislated and provincial prescribed information. This will ensure better and appropriately local implementation of planning decisions. Neither Bill 20 nor Bill 163 achieve the intent of the complete application content to reduce the number of files contained within the planning system that contain inadequate information and to make it clear to applicants what will be required in the application.
Municipalities were simply asking that municipalities be able to pass an additional bylaw setting out the information that's required for a complete application in addition to what the province prescribes, and I think most municipalities would appreciate that opportunity.
The Chair: Further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Those opposed? I deem the amendment to fail.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 22(6) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 13 of the bill, be amended by striking out the portion that precedes clause (a) and substituting the following:
"Refusal and timing
"(6) Until a council or planning board has received the prescribed information and material required under subsection (4) and any fee under section 69,"
This is a consequential amendment as a result of the amendment to subsection 22(4), as discussed previously. That amendment clarifies the proponent needs only to submit the information and material prescribed by provincial regulation to trigger the time period for the right of appeal to begin.
Mr Bisson: It's only the prescribed information that's being requested, just be more specific.
Mr Hardeman: Yes, it is.
Mr Bradley: Even though, as the parliamentary assistant points out, this is contrary, or it could be considered to be contrary, to the motion I presented, because it has some merits to it, I'll be supporting it. This is very technical when you get into this. It's not as attractive as the motion that the official opposition suggested, but there is sufficient merit in it that we will support it.
The Chair: Further comment? All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? I deem the amendment passed.
Mr Bisson: I move that subsection 22(7) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 13 of the bill, be amended as follows:
"1. By striking out "45 days" in clause (a) and substituting "90 days."
"2. By striking out "45 days" in clause (b) and substituting "90 days."
"3. By striking out "90 days" in clause (c) and substituting "180 days."
"4. By striking out "90 days" in clause (d) and substituting "180 days."
I guess this comes back to the work John Sewell did in regard to the extensive consultation that happened at the time leading up to Bill 163, and I think what expert people, more learned in this field than us, had to recommend is that there needs to be sufficient time for the work to be done. What happens is, our amendment would restore the existing Planning Act time frame, after which an appellant for the OPA can bypass council and go right to the OMB. It says that 45 days is not enough, so we need to go back to the 90, or in the case of a planning board, from 90 to 180. This applies where councils have not moved quickly enough to call the public meeting.
Councils need more time to do the job properly. Piling up applications at the OMB ultimately won't save time, it'll just bump the problem up to the next level of government and really deny local democracy to happen when it comes to the work that needs to be done. It seems to me what we're going to end up with is sort of like an automatic referral to the OMB if we don't have sufficient time for the local councils to deal with the application. It's like we've mentioned on a number of occasions, municipalities, it's no big secret, have -- the city of Timmins, for an example, has lost over 40% of its provincial transfers over the next couple of years due to provincial cuts.
In talking to mayor and council and administration of the city of Timmins, they know that in the end it's going to mean they're going to have to reduce staff. If they don't have the amount of staff necessary in the planning department to deal with all the applications, it seems to me they are going to be even more pressed to try to meet the time lines set out under what you're trying to do under Bill 20.
We can all support the idea that you want to be able to streamline and make things faster, but if you don't have the staff to deal with the applications, you're going to get quite the opposite happening here, it seems to me. You're going to have people going automatically to the OMB after 45 days on the basis that the planning department hasn't had the time to do the work, and rather than allowing the local council to do their work and try to make local democracy work, you're going to end up with things just automatically being referred to the OMB.
I'd like to know your view on it. Do you recognize that can happen? It probably will most definitely happen.
Mr Hardeman: We do not believe it will increase the applications going to the OMB. We think the time lines are appropriate in dealing with the streamlining of the process, recognizing that if we don't streamline the process and get the applications approved, and encourage development and increasing the economy, we will end up with having to lengthen the time frame, if we're using your analysis, because we will keep going where the municipalities will have to keep laying off more and more people because they do not have the ability to increase development and the growth of their community, as is necessary. There is a holdup in that process and we really are convinced that those time lines and the process have to be streamlined to get development on the move again.
Ms Churley: That's BS.
Mr Bisson: Took the words right out of my mouth.
Ms Churley: I guess that's unparliamentary, isn't it? Must I withdraw?
Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): That's that acronym stand for?
Mr Bisson: Bullshit.
Ms Churley: Determine for yourselves. The public participation is not the problem. I keep telling you that. I can assure you this is going to be a problem. I would like to know what you base this figure on. How did the ministry, the minister, the officials, come up with this time frame? Do you have any proof that it's going to work, that the staff are going to be there to do the documentation, the work? What do you base it on?
Mr Hardeman: The time frame is based on looking at the process and trying to find places where the process can be streamlined to increase the ability of the economy to build. I suppose it's fair to say that all numbers are somewhat subjective. Someone has to look at the applications that are presently going through the system and decide where we could reduce the time lines and make the system still as effective as it is today.
I point out that in these time lines the applications are on private official plan amendments. No individual or applicant putting forward a proposal that was being processed but was not quite completed by the deadline would see it to their advantage to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board and start from square one, so in all probability, if things were progressing but not completed, the applicant would not appeal to the OMB. In applications that are being unduly held up or where an applicant felt there was no ability to see that dealt with in the foreseeable future, it seems appropriate not to wait 90 days as opposed to 45 days. If the application is not proceeding and it is going to end up going to the Ontario Municipal Board, we feel the process and the public would be better served by having that proceed at that time.
Mr Bisson: I'd just come back that if your belief is that you're going to slow down economic development in a community on the basis of moving this from 45 to 120 days, I think you're --
Mr Bisson: I don't know if I'm going to wait for this to stop. I'm used to working in high-noise areas.
Mr Hardeman: It may not be as loud at that end, but I can't hear you at this end.
The Chair: The committee stands recessed for five minutes.
The committee recessed from 0953 to 0954.
The Chair: Let's proceed, shall we? I call the meeting back to order. Mr Bisson, you have the floor.
Mr Bisson: I'm waiting for the parliamentary assistant to get back.
Mr Bisson: I recognize that my good friend from Grey-Owen Sound doesn't find this matter to be very important to the public good, but some of us understand that proper planning is something that's important in this province.
If the parliamentary assistant believes that a clause going from 45 to 120 days or 90 days to 180, depending on the situation, is going to hamper economic development and curtail the municipal tax base, I think you're really mistaken. I make the plea once again that this is an "I told you so" kind of amendment here. What's going to end up happening, and I think you need to realize, is that people will end up bumping things up to the OMB automatically at the 45-day level, rather than trying to work out their differences if they had been given adequate time to do it in the first place. I think you're going to end up with more objections at the OMB by moving in this direction, quite contrary to what you're trying to achieve. We just have that on the record, and I look forward to raising that in the House a couple of years down the road.
Mr Bradley: I would make a similar argument. One of the problems I've found, just from my own personal observation -- I don't want to offend anybody personally -- that when dealing with the government, the problem is we're dealing with ideology as opposed to practicality. I remember that the Davis administration, when we were sitting in opposition, was very practical on motions of this kind. We're talking about the practicality of this, and your government appears to be ideologically committed to absolutely streamlining, and if anything varies from that, somehow it can't be right.
You have to look in this bill at the practicalities of it in the Planning Act. Although it's unfair to do so, I'd like to hear from the member for Middlesex, who is the only member here, I think, who is a professional planner and who has some expertise and some direct experience, whether he believes -- and perhaps he's not in a position to say if it's contrary to government policy; I understand that. But I'd be interested in his observation, if he can make one, as to whether he thinks the time lines the government is suggesting in this legislation can be met by a municipality. You were with London, I believe, Mr Smith. Is it possible to hear from Mr Smith? Perhaps he doesn't want to, and I understand that.
The Chair: It worked last time to call a recess. The committee stands recessed for five minutes.
The committee recessed from 0957 to 1005.
The Chair: I don't think we can wait any longer. I call the meeting back to order. I believe Mr Bradley had posed a question, but as he's not here, I don't know if it's all that apropos.
Mr Bisson: We're still on 22(7), right?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr Bisson: To finish what we were saying before, I think what's going to happen here is that over the longer term you're going to get quite the opposite effect from what you're looking for in regard to keeping stuff away from the OMB. If the intent of the bill is to allow the local level of government to deal with planning issues, your idea of going down to 45 days will go contrary to that. What's going to end up happening is that, once the time lines expire, people are automatically going to bump it up to the OMB, not giving the municipality the opportunity to deal with the concerns raised. You know as well as I do that the vast majority of things are dealt with locally when given the chance. This is an "I told you so," as we said a little while ago. We'll talk about this in a couple of years.
Mr Lalonde: I am referring to the submission presented by the county of Oxford council on February 27 in London. I feel they have a very competent planner over there, and they stressed that the time frame was really tight in there. I'm going to read what is written on page 4:
"The purpose of the change to the application processing time frames is to streamline the development approval process. These time frames are tight, particularly when the proposals are large, complex or problematic. Successful implementation of these approval time lines will be dependent upon:
"(1) Proponents providing at the time of the application submission all the information required to adequately access the technical merits of the proposal; and
"(2) The establishment of an efficient and timely administrative process for soliciting comments from all the relevant provincial agencies."
It goes on, and then in the last part of the second paragraph, this is the most important part:
"Unless municipalities have the ability to require that sufficient information necessary to adequately process the application is received when the application is submitted, the abovenoted time frames are unrealistic. Without complete application information submitted up front in the process, municipalities could be forced to refuse applications on the basis of lack of technical merit to achieve the proposed time frames."
I think that part is very important. They could send it back and say, "We don't have enough information." This is going to repeat and repeat again, because I think this is the tool for the municipality to get out of that 90 days as spelled out in the bill.
Mr Hardeman: I would just point out that the government agrees with the statement read into the record in that the time frames are important, and all the participating parties will have to work to achieve those time lines.
I also want to point out that the amendment we're presently dealing with, in reducing the 90 to 45, is the need for municipalities to call a public meeting for the public participation in a private OP amendment. This is not to say that the public involvement can only be in 45 days and from then on someone else will be dealing with it. This is the stipulation that municipalities cannot have a private official plan amendment laying on desks in offices that are not being dealt with, that the applicant has an ability to proceed in an orderly fashion. Whether the municipality supports the amendment or whether they do not, they will be obligated to hold a public meeting and call it on the 45-day process.
The other part of the amendment dealing with the 90 to 180 days again will allow an applicant to appeal an application if it's being unduly held up. We do not see that applicants will be rushing to the Ontario Municipal Board to have decisions made that could've been made at their local municipality 30 days hence. We do not see this as a delay tactic; we see it as a streamlining of the system to get applications moving through the system in a more orderly and timely fashion.
The Chair: Any further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question.
Mr Bisson: Recorded vote.
Bisson, Churley, Lalonde.
Baird, Carr, Galt, Hardeman, Smith.
The Chair: I deem the motion to have failed.
Any further amendments?
Mr Lalonde: Yes, we have one. I move that clause 22(7)(c) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 13 of the bill, be amended by striking out "90" and substituting "120."
We're coming back to the same reason, just because the time frame is too tight and we say it will be impossible for a municipality to proceed. As I just read a little while ago, a municipality could be forced to refuse the application due to lack of information they would receive at the beginning. This would delay instead of proceeding or meeting the 90-day time frame we have.
Ms Churley: Given that our amendment failed on this, the 180 days, I'd be willing to accept this amendment as a compromise. It does give a little more time, not as much as we had hoped, but hopefully the government will be willing to compromise as well and accept the 120 days, for all the reasons mentioned before.
The Chair: Further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question.
Ms Churley: Recorded.
Bisson, Churley, Lalonde.
Baird, Carr, Galt, Fisher, Hardeman, Smith.
The Chair: I deem this amendment to fail.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 22(12) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 13 of the bill, be amended by striking out "are withdrawn or dismissed by the municipal board" in the second and third lines and substituting "are dismissed by the municipal board without holding a hearing or are withdrawn."
This amendment is just to clarify the process to include "without holding a hearing" as to the notification from the Ontario Municipal Board.
Mr Bisson: Is a hearing presently required? It isn't under 163, is it?
Mr Hardeman: For clarification, adding the words "without holding a hearing" returns it to be identical to what is in Bill 163.
Mr Bisson: Exactly. We like that one.
The Chair: Seeing no further comment, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the motion? Contrary? Carried.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 22(13) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 13 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(13) If all appeals under clause (7)(e) or (f) are dismissed by the municipal board without holding a hearing or are withdrawn, the secretary of the board shall notify the council or the planning board and the decision of the council or the planning board is final on the day that the last outstanding appeal has been withdrawn or dismissed."
This amendment clarifies that this section applies only where the board dismisses an appeal without holding a hearing. Where the Ontario Municipal Board holds a hearing and dismisses an appeal, the OMB's decision is final. The matter does not return to the council or the planning board.
Mr Bisson: Just for clarification, it basically makes it the same as 163. That's what you're doing.
The Chair: Further comment? All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment's passed.
I'll put the question regarding section 13. Is it the favour of this committee that section 13, as amended, shall carry? All those in favour? Contrary? I deem that section passed.
Seeing no amendments proposed for sections 14 through 18, I'll ask if there are any comments, questions or suggestions to sections 14 through 18. Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of sections 14 through 18? Contrary? Those sections have been carried.
Section 19: Are there any comments, question or amendments?
Mr Bisson: I have an amendment to subsection 19(1) of the bill, subsections 31(3.1) and (3.2) of the Planning Act. I move that subsection 19(1) of the bill be struck out.
This brings us back to the debate of yesterday in regard to apartments in houses. We tried to argue, but not very successfully, that basically the government's biting off its nose to spite its face on this one. On the one hand, you want to allow individuals to increase their investment opportunities, both as an investment and also as a home. Bill 120 provided for that. It allowed people in a legal way not to be blocked by their municipal councils from adding an apartment in a house, if need be, either to be able to afford to buy a new home it or so they are able to move someone in there that they're caring for.
I'll just say it all over again. It is really strange that a Conservative government would take away the opportunity of the individual trying to make a buck. Sometimes this is the only way a lot of working people have an opportunity to make an investment that when they retire, they'll have a few bucks in the bank. I think we can all look at our communities and see how many people we know who retired at age 55, 60, 65 who are able to do so because they have income from an asset such as an apartment building, at first the house they owned that they put an apartment into and eventually rented out and built up some equity, $120,000, $150,000, and put that money towards their retirement. I just can't see why the Tories would not want to go forward with that.
The whole housing strategy the government is putting forward, not only in what you're doing under Bill 120 and what you're doing in the Planning Act by not being consistent with provincial policies that say subdivisions have to have 30% of homes that can be bought by people with 60% of the lowest incomes, but also what you're doing with rent control, what you're doing with the housing protection act, what you're doing with the non-profits -- it's all towards a system where if you've got the bucks you'll do fine, and if you haven't got the bucks, you ain't going to do nothing at all. I just find it distasteful for a government to do such things.
Ms Churley: The more I look at this bill and talk to people and consider this particular section -- everything to do with secondary apartments, basement apartments -- what really strikes me about this section is that it's designed, and it's very unfortunate, to have a disproportionate effect on the poor people in our province, the disadvantaged.
There is a litany of policies and cutbacks that have already been made by this government in the name of a 30% tax cut that will mainly benefit the well-off. They are disproportionately affecting the poor and the disadvantaged, and this is another example. I wish the government members would take a look at the reality of those cuts, their effect on poor people in our province. It really is having a disproportionate effect.
I believe this is going to harm people more at this time in Ontario. More and more people are starting to become aware of that, and I think this will add to that. I think this is going to hurt the government in the long run -- not that I object to that, of course; that's part of my goal here. I do object and I do regret, though, that in the process, while the government starts falling in the polls when people see more and more how people are being hurt, the problem is that people really are being hurt. We must not forget, when we sit around these rooms making policy, that there are real people being affected.
This is one of those that is going to add to the disproportionate effect. The price and the sacrifice that poor and disadvantaged people, people who through no fault of their own are out of a job or will be out of a job soon because of the many thousands that this government is going to lay off -- I do not see any jobs being created by this government whatsoever while it's in the process of laying people off. At a time when there are going to be more disadvantaged people in our society in Ontario being affected by this government, and while the rich get richer, there is going to be less affordable housing for poor people. I really regret that. It's quite disgusting. That's my view of it. These particular sections that disproportionately hurt the poor -- it disgusts me and upsets me, and I think overall it's going to upset the people of Ontario.
Mr Bisson: I just want a last attempt to appeal to government members. I have to ask you, who you are speaking for by opposing Bill 120? You're really speaking for those people who are most well-off in our society. For a lot of people in our communities -- John, you know this as well as I do -- the only way they can enter into the market is to buy a house and put an apartment in it. Sometimes it's the only way they can get in the market.
It seems to me that as legislators, never mind our political stripes, we have to figure out ways we make an economy that everybody can share in. I think that's the goal of the government -- it's certainly the goal of the Conservative Party -- and I would say that's the goal of both opposition parties. We want an economy where everybody can participate, and part of the problem here is that you're going to have a lot of people who won't be able to enter the housing market in communities like Ottawa or Timmins by virtue of not being able to afford a mortgage. The only way they can do it is by having an apartment in their house.
You know in Ottawa, as well as I do, if you go to Gloucester or other communities around the Ottawa region, their councils are dead set against people putting apartments in those subdivisions for all the reasons we talked about yesterday. I don't think it's such a widespread problem that the concerns of councils are valid. I think the only way you can do this is to allow the bill to stand forward so councils can't block that. I take it the member wants to say something. I'll just stop at that point.
Mr Baird: This issue is an issue of concern to many of my constituents. I'll tell you, just from the addresses and the neighbourhoods I get them from, they're not from the most wealthy people in my constituency, as you suggested at the beginning of your statement. It is very much an issue to do with zoning and what the local municipality is best able to determine in the interests of the community. These councils aren't some sort of independent body; they are elected by the folks in that community and I think are best able to represent issues of this concern. I would agree with Mr Bradley's comments yesterday with respect to zoning and intensification and the changing aspects of neighbourhoods, that people buy into particular bylaws when they are making what will be, for them, their biggest investment: the purchase of their home.
Mr Bisson: Councils, you know as well as I do, are very influenced by the people most well-off in our communities. The councils I've dealt with over the years tend to succumb a lot easier to the interests of those people who have the influence in the community from an economic standpoint than to the people at the bottom end of the economy. I just think that's false.
I guess what bothers me is the trend of our economy over the last number of years. In fairness to the Conservative reform party here, I wouldn't say this is all your doing. I would say this is something that probably started in the later 1970s, where we started moving from an economy where people were able to participate. Through the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, if an individual wanted to go into a business and start up a business of some type in order to support himself or herself or the family, it was very easy to do so. The banking policies allowed it, I think the economy allowed it a lot easier in regard to consumers, and what we've seen is multinationals and larger companies over the years really grabbing a larger share of the market, to the point that it's very difficult for the small entrepreneur to get involved in our economy. I think that's a detriment to the economy.
I think an economy only works well when people have access to it, when the average Joe who's working on the plant floor says: "I have an idea. I want to invest the money that I've got and move forward to be able to make a contribution to the economy." That's when the economy works best. I think we're going into an economy where the larger corporations are the ones that control the larger part of the market and it's much more difficult for the average Joe to get in.
So I say this is a small opportunity that we have, at least in the housing market, to allow the individual with not as much money as others to be able to get the share of the economy. Again, I find it surprising that the Tory members wouldn't support this.
The Chair: Any further comments? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Opposed? The amendment fails.
All those in favour of section 19 passing? Opposed? I deem section 19 to pass.
Section 20, are there any amendments, comments or suggestions?
Mr Bradley: This is an amendment that the Liberal Party is proposing. I believe it's the first one in order. It reads as follows:
I move that section 20 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:
"(4.1) Section 34 of the act, as amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 1993, chapter 26, section 53 and 1994, chapter 23, section 21, is further amended by adding the following subsections:
"(9.1) A building shall be deemed to comply with a bylaw passed under this section in all the following circumstances:
"1. The building is used as a residence.
"2. The building was constructed at least 20 years before the bylaw was passed.
"(9.2) A structure shall be deemed to comply with a bylaw passed under this section in all the following circumstances:
"1. The structure forms part of a building that is used as a residence.
"2. The structure was constructed at least 20 years before the bylaw was passed."
The amendment deals with non-conforming sites. We've had to deal with those as municipal councillors on a number of occasions. It proposes that residential buildings over a specified age, say 20 years, should be deemed to comply with zoning bylaws -- for example, a house built in the 1950s that sits back from the street 45 feet instead of the 50 required by present bylaws -- in order to significantly reduce the existing workloads of committees of adjustment related to the conformity of older buildings with setback and similar provisions of zoning bylaws.
This would permit alterations and adjustments to receive building permits without having to obtain committee of adjustment approval for historical variations from the zoning bylaw. Again, this would remove an obstacle to affordable renovations and unburden municipalities of a costly and redundant review process.
So the example is you have the old house from many years back and somebody didn't see it and it was built with the 45-foot setback instead of the required 50-foot setback. If you wanted to do anything to that in terms of renovation, under the present legislation you would have to fix up the old non-conforming use, that is, that you're at 45 feet instead of 50 feet. This is saying you don't have to go through that process any more to deal with that portion which is in non-conformity.
I don't know whether the ministry has had a chance to look at that and see if it makes any sense to them, but that is what we're proposing.
Mr Bisson: I just have a point of clarification. For example, let's say that this was to pass and I was to have an apartment in a house that doesn't meet certain safety standards. Does that mean to say that those safety standards that are not met are now deemed to be in compliance with the existing bylaws?
Mr Bradley: It deals essentially with the committee of adjustment problems, where the house -- as I say, the example is the house is 45 feet from the street instead of 50 feet from the street, as it should have been. It simply solves that problem so that yes, you have to meet any of the building standards that people have, but you don't have to go through the process of getting the approval now for the 45 feet instead of 50 feet.
Mr Bisson: So the example would be that I had a house and 20 years ago I put an addition on it, and the addition makes the building out of compliance with the regs. That's the kind of stuff you're talking about; you're talking about additions, garages, that kind of stuff that should have got a minor variance.
Mr Bradley: Mostly buildings that were built out of compliance in the first place. I don't know how the ministry feels about that. They may want to look at it. They may feel it's not practical. Is there any response to it?
Mr Hardeman: The government does not support the amendment. The municipalities have the authority to do what the amendment suggests by bylaw at the present time. The interior uses of those buildings are covered by the non-conforming standards within the present bylaws, so the amendment deals with the outer perimeters of that structure and we feel that it's appropriate that the municipality -- it would be a local zoning-type situation.
We feel that should be in the local autonomy, should be a decision made by the local municipality, whether they feel it appropriate to give a blanket approval to eliminate the need for a committee of adjustment or to proceed with the committee of adjustment process. We don't believe that should be a provincial statute, imposing that upon the municipalities.
Mr Bradley: So you see it that they could do it as a blanket approval right across the city if they wanted, in all these circumstances, simply deem that across the city, at the local municipality.
Mr Hardeman: Yes.
Mr Lalonde: The municipality definitely could have it in their official plan, this clause, but very few have it. With this amendment here, it would protect those that are in place and in those municipalities that don't have this section in their official plans.
In the past, at the municipal level, we have experienced some problems concerning this. It delays some sales closures because the municipality didn't have that incorporated in its official plan and they have to proceed with a minor variance or also proceed with a zoning change. So this law really would eliminate all the questions that would be brought to the municipal council if it's not indicated in their official plan.
The Chair: Further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? I deem the amendment to fail.
Mr Bradley: I have another amendment -- I thought there was a government amendment in here. Did the government one come before mine, or not?
The Chair: No, yours comes first, Mr Bradley.
Mr Bradley: I move that subsections 34(10.1) and (10.2) of the Planning Act, as set out in subsection 20(5) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(10.1) A council may require a person or public body that applies for amendment to a bylaw passed under this section or a predecessor of this section to provide such information and material as the council considers necessary to determine the matter."
That's fairly straightforward, I believe, and I'll leave that with you.
The Chair: Any further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? I'm assuming you two voted in favour of it. I deem the amendment to fail.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 34(10.1) of the Planning Act, as set out in subsection 20(5) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(10.1) A person or public body that applies for an amendment to a bylaw passed under this section or a predecessor of this section shall provide the prescribed information and material to the council."
Mr Bisson: That's subsection 20(5)?
The Chair: Subsection 20(5).
Mr Bradley: This is similar to the earlier amendment that you had, that provincially required background must be provided even if there is no local bylaw.
Mr Hardeman: The amendment is identical to deal with the same prescribed information as we dealt with previously for an official plan amendment. We are now dealing with it in the zoning bylaw.
The Chair: Any further discussion? All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment's passed.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 34(10.3) of the Planning Act, as set out in subsection 20(5) of the bill, be amended by striking out the portion that precedes clause (a) and substituting the following:
"Refusal and timing
"(10.3) Until the council has received the prescribed information and material required under subsection (10.1) and any fee under section 69,"
This amendment again is to deal with the delivering of the prescribed information and paying the prescribed fees before the time starts to tick as we approach the time frame for the appeal process.
The Chair: Further comment? All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? I deem that amendment to pass.
Mr Bisson: This is on subsection 20(11) of the bill, clause 34(25)(a) of the Planning Act. I move that subsection 20(11) of the bill be struck out.
I guess it's fairly simple as far as explanation. What you end up with here is that really you can end up with amendments to the official plan, a developer wanting to go in and do a development in an area where the services haven't yet been put in place and really forcing the municipality to bear the cost of doing such where, quite frankly, they haven't planned to do it at that time.
I recognize that it's a council decision. The council may decide that they want to do that, but the problem is, again it comes back to what we argued a little earlier, that some of the aldermen and some of the councillors tend to be somewhat unable to sometimes say no to a particular developer, and we just think that's not in the light of good planning.
Mr Bradley: The Liberal Party had exactly the same amendment and we believe that there is a compelling case for this amendment being proposed. This motion would re-establish the prematurity tests, the power of the OMB to discuss matters regarding the basis of the prematurity because the necessary public water, sewer, road services in the proposed development are not available or will not be available within a reasonable time.
Municipalities should not have to bear the costs of an OMB hearing where there's clear information that there's no servicing capacity, or in anticipation of when future capacity will be available. Approval without the assurance of servicing gives the developer and prospective purchaser false expectations and it can put pressure on municipalities to finance new development without the benefit of good, comprehensive planning.
This motion, as a matter of fact, is in line with the stated mission of the government to give municipalities more local autonomy. I think it's a reasonable motion. I would have thought that some of the people with municipal experience would have been in favour of this
Again, I think one of the detriments we have in this committee is -- and I know you're going to think I'm trying to be mischievous, but the member for Middlesex is far more expert on some of these issues than I can ever be, planning issues -- one of the problems with our system of government when it's so partisan -- that is, parties seem to line up -- is that it prevents a person who's got some expertise from expressing views which I think would be very helpful to the committee. Sometimes I say things to be mischievous, it is alleged, and this time I'm not. I'm really looking to see. If he said that in many of the cases the government was right, I might say, "Well, okay, I'll go along with that."
I'm just wondering if Mr Smith has been muzzled by somebody over there and I really look at that. Here we have members elected to the Legislature, some from various backgrounds who have some expertise. Heaven knows, if I wanted to know anything about severances, I would ask the member for Grey-Owen Sound. He could tell me all about them. If I wanted to know anything about hockey, I could ask the member for Oakville South.
Mr Baird: Or the escarpment.
Mr Bradley: Or the escarpment. I mean, there are all kinds of things. But when we have people who have some expertise in this area, I wish the government would unleash them. Even if they'd have to vote with the government, it would be helpful to me as a committee member to get through this muddle. So I just leave that on the record.
Mr Bisson: I'm surprised that the member for Middlesex doesn't respond. If people are cynical with politicians and are cynical with the political process, I think it's because of part of what we're seeing right now. Supposedly they're elected as the elected member in their local riding to go to Queen's Park in order to represent them and to bring, first of all, the view of the constituents, but also it's incumbent upon the member to bring forward his or her experience that he or she can bring to a debate. I just would repeat the same comments Mr Bradley makes. I really would like to know what Mr Smith thinks about this and other sections of the bill. Have you been muzzled? I take it the answer is yes.
The Chair: Further comments?
Mr Bisson: If we're not going to get the expert opinion of Mr Smith, I'll give you one example. In the city of Timmins there was an amendment to the official plan to allow a subdivision to go forward somewhere that was premature. What you end up with at times is that -- in this particular case the subdivision went forward and was allowed. I don't exactly know how that happened, but it was allowed. What they did was that they allowed the subdivision to go forward with its own internal sewer system. Basically, every lot had a septic bed on these particular lots. They weren't the 50-by-100s. These were half-acre lots that were being put in place, maybe a little bit smaller than that. The water was brought in at a cost to the developer.
I remember at the time of the debate the proponents, people who supported the developer, said, "We're not going to go to the city in order to ask them for the sewers some time after the project is finished." So the developer paid for the water to come in from the city and then paid to develop all of the sewer systems on all of these lots. Lo and behold, two or three years after this thing is built and you've now got, I think, about 20 or 30 homes that are built in that particular subdivision, guess who they came to in order to get money to pay for their sewers? They came to the province. One of the people in 1991 came to me and said: "This thing should have never been allowed to go forward on the basis of water and sewers not being completely installed on the city system. The developer was allowed to put the water forward. We were told that the septic bed that was being installed in our lots was going to be adequate and, as it turned out, it wasn't." It was actually quite a problem.
So the municipality -- it was a quite a controversy -- had to stir for two or three years figuring out how they were going to pay out of their own pockets as the municipality for the installation of sewer lines about half a mile to the nearest hookup on to that particular sewer system. First of all, we, the province, weren't about to pay because we had said no to that application. Then the municipality was faced with the second problem: The sewer system at that particular end of the community wasn't big enough to be able to take the development that had happened and what future development might happen in that particular subdivision. So I think the interests of the municipality and residents weren't well taken by allowing that particular subdivision to go forward. I think there are a lot of examples of that.
Ms Churley: If I could ask the parliamentary assistant, in Bill 163, if I recall it correctly --
The Chair: You have to speak up.
Ms Churley: Thank you for telling me I have to speak up, but I don't know how many people are listening here.
Mr Bradley: I'm listening.
Ms Churley: Thank you, Jim.
Mr Hardeman: We're all listening.
Ms Churley: Oh, thank you. Look, they're all perking up over there now. Listen.
Mr Hardeman: We always listen to you.
Ms Churley: Bill 163 gave the municipalities the power to turn down applications if they so chose, if those infrastructure aspects weren't there. Why would you not just allow them to make that decision? I don't quite understand why. If, for instance, a municipality has had problems with that in the past, why would you not let municipalities make that decision?
Mr Hardeman: Bill 20 does not attempt to take away any authority that municipalities have had in Bill 163 as it relates to denying an application based on its prematurity because sewer and water service is not available. It also does not take away the ability of the Ontario Municipal Board to turn down that application through the hearing process because of the lack of water and sewer facilities.
Bill 20 puts in place the inability of the Municipal Board to refuse to hear an appeal to a zoning or an application based strictly on the fact that it is premature. The government feels it appropriate that an applicant should have the ability to go before the board and have their day in court, so to speak, on that issue. The prematurity or the availability of sewer and water is one of the criteria that planning applications are and should be judged on. We do not believe that it should be the reason that an application was not heard. We believe it should be part of that hearing process.
Ms Churley: I think that's part of the problem with this. It's such an important part of planning today, especially in trying to curb urban sprawl. I recognize this bill has the opposite effect: it promotes urban sprawl. But let's just suggest for a moment that it is the goal of many people in Ontario to curb urban sprawl. In my view, taking this out will mean that the opportunity for urban sprawl has been opened up even more. That's the problem with this. It seems to me, as I said yesterday about this, that in fact you're going to have more cases going to the OMB because of this, to resolve the matter one way or the other. It just doesn't make any sense whatsoever. I can't understand why you'd do such a stupid thing.
Mr Bisson: Just to clarify, you're basically doing with Bill 20 what was allowed pre-163, if I'm correct. Right?
Mr Hardeman: The answer would be that pre-163 the OMB could not dismiss based strictly on prematurity.
Mr Bisson: That's why I'm saying what you're doing is Bill 20 is returning us on this issue to what it was basically pre-163. The answer is yes. What I'm trying to say to you is that the whole intent of this bill is in order to streamline planning and, at the same time, try to prevent appeals to the OMB that don't need to be there. It seems to me that the government, in its own deliberations through this bill, has agreed that even with 163, and pre-163, there was a problem there, that you had appeals going before 163 that didn't need to be there, that were taking up time with the board. It really meant also that at the same time there were applications that were being made that shouldn't have been made in the first place, that at the local level they should have said, "This can't even be allowed." So you're going to end up here with developers taking a decision of a local municipality not to allow a development to go forward, and automatically you're going to have more cases at the OMB with this.
I have to repeat what my friend from Riverdale, or Riverside --
Ms Churley: Riverdale.
Mr Bisson: Excuse me. I used to live in your riding; I should know.
She said really it doesn't make a whole bunch of sense. Let me ask you this question: What you're specifically trying to do in this bill in regard to the OMB is to reduce the number of appeals going to the OMB, right? This is what you're trying to do here, right?
Mr Hardeman: The removal of the prematurity in Bill 20 is to deal with the issue that prematurity should be decided in the hearing process, not prejudge the whole case based on one criterion that was used in denying the application.
Mr Bisson: That's the other part of the debate. The question I'm asking is simply this: Is it not the intent of the government, through Bill 20, to make sure that we have a minimum number of appeals before the OMB? Isn't that what you're trying to do?
Ms Churley: Streamline.
Mr Bisson: You're trying to streamline and at the same time make sure you don't have, as you put it, frivolous and vexatious applications before the OMB. Isn't that what you're trying to do?
Mr Hardeman: The intent of Bill 20 is to streamline the planning process.
Mr Bisson: And to not have as many appeals to the OMB, right?
Mr Hardeman: One other intent of Bill 20 is to ensure that everyone is being treated fairly and has a right to the system, the same as all other sectors.
Mr Bisson: To make sure the developers are treated fairly I think is what you're trying to say, but you don't want to say it, because if you answer yes to this question, you're going to have to vote with my amendment, I would say. What you're doing with this is, you're going contrary to what you're trying to do with the bill.
I come back to the point that Mr Bradley makes, that the idea of the committee of the whole is so that legislators can have a pragmatic view of what we've heard from submissions before the committee so that then we collectively as legislators, be it opposition or government, can make the bill better, can make it stronger, can make it do what the government wants it to do in the first place.
I don't take any particular pleasure out of this, but it's another "I told you so" clause. You're going to end up with more applications before the OMB that don't need to be there. Sewell recognized that through his work, developers recognized it, planners recognized it, that --
Mr Murdoch: Sewell?
Mr Bisson: Where did you dig this member up from? Bill, you are, I'll tell you --
Ms Churley: Do you mean the member for Grey-Owen Sound?
The Chair: Order.
Mr Bisson: To finish what I'm saying, everything pointed to the fact that there was a problem pre-163 on this particular issue. The Sewell report recommended that applications on prematurity be allowed in order to do away with the problems we were having at the OMB. Everybody agreed that had to be done. I can't understand why you're coming back with this.
Mr Bradley: This makes one suspicious -- and one shouldn't be suspicious, I suppose -- that this is almost as though a consultant for the developers came in and said to you, "Here's what we want," and that's what we see in the bill. With a couple of exceptions, that's what we see in the bill. It's a bill almost written by the developers. Certainly, I can't think that the officials of the Ministry of Housing would have written this particular bill this way unless given instruction by the government, which obviously they have been.
The reason I say that is, look again at the practical effect. By having an additional number of OMB hearings, that means local planners -- as Mr Bruce Smith used to be when he was in London as a planner -- have to spend even more time then dealing with these matters that go to the OMB, because the municipality has to be represented at the hearing. The developer will be there large as life, even though there isn't the capacity existing, nor is there likely to be the capacity in the foreseeable future, and planners of the local municipality have to go to the hearing. So it's tying up more of their time on something that really has no particular future.
By allowing the OMB to say, "Look, this is premature; we're not going to hear it," you avoid tying up the limited time of the ever-shrinking staff of each municipality. Now, you may say, "Well, that staff won't shrink." The only way it can't shrink is they have to make sacrifices in other areas, so, "We'll cut the staff at the senior citizens' homes, nursing homes, so we can have more planners to service the developers." The only way they're going to be able to deal with these is if they push more people into the planning department, the engineering department, and take them out of other departments that deal with human beings on a very direct basis with their health and with problems of aging.
Mr Bradley: We're just looking at practicality, people.
Mr Bradley: It stops after a little while, the noise.
The Chair: The Hansard tapes are still recording too. Proceed. Speak loudly into your microphone.
Ms Churley: Okay, I'll yell into the mike. I wanted to add a comment here that some of these issues are, as Mr Bradley was saying, practical planning issues and not partisan. It's just practical in terms of looking at speeding up the process. We have an interest in the opposition as well to speed up the process and cut red tape, and when we point out particular areas like this that we know from our own experience and from our own consultation are actually not going to do that, I don't understand why you don't listen to us and perhaps take it back to the minister responsible and say on a couple -- we know you can't run in and out all day long, but every now and then we are actually making some very serious practical points that some of us have had experience in.
We know this. We know this is going to be a problem, and we're being stonewalled. We have the government members sitting over there, some of whom have had experience in this area. It's as though they've been muzzled. I'm starting to feel frustrated, because on some of these issues, I know we're not going to agree. The "have regard for," "be consistent with," basement apartments, we're not going to agree. And part of that is a philosophical, political, partisan difference in views. But in these practical areas, I do not understand why we can't have an intelligent, non-partisan discussion about how to make this bill work.
There is a serious problem with this. We know that. It's not going to work. I would find it quite interesting to have some of the government members who have experience in this area, if they think it is going to work, given their own experience, tell us, given what happened before, how they see it working. Perhaps we can be convinced, but certainly nothing the parliamentary assistant said makes any sense whatsoever. It isn't going to work, and with all due respect, I have not heard an explanation that gives me any comfort whatsoever that this is going to improve the planning process. It is not. And I use the word "stupid" again. This is downright stupid, when you're bringing in a new bill that's supposed to be cutting red tape and cutting down on time, to be bringing in parts of the bill that are actually going to slow it down.
Mr Bisson: Can I ask a question? If I would have brought forward an application, let's say I made application to the city for a development in an area in 1990, under pre-163, and the city said it's premature. I was able to bring them to the OMB, right, as a developer? We talked about that a little while ago.
We had one particular one in a place called Kenogami Sea where there was an application for development for converting what was a trailer park into a different kind of commercial operation. What happened was that the city had said no, it didn't want to allow it to go forward because of the reasons actually spelled out in this particular clause in regard to it wasn't within their official plan to allow that particular development to go forward for a number of reasons, including servicing.
What happened is the developer, because the developer had the bucks, and that's understandable, brought that thing all the way to the OMB. It took like three or four years to get there, because this started about 1989 or 1990 and he finally got there I think in 1994, and finally the thing was turned back. I don't know what he's going to do from there, the point being that the city must have spent on that particular application I would say in the hundreds of thousands of dollars of staff time and legal time to go fight that one before the OMB. I know I was lobbied on both sides of that issue by numerous people in the area, the amount of time myself and my staff spent on that particular issue, not to count what happened in the community itself, for an application that wasn't supported by the official plan in the first place.
It seems to me it would have made more sense to just say at the very outset: "It is not allowed. It is not something that falls within the official plan of the city of Timmins, and let's not waste each other's time here." We ended up there with an application before the OMB that didn't have a chance of being approved. It comes back to what we were arguing with you a little while ago. Why allow that practice to happen?
Just on the point that both Mr Bradley and Mrs Churley raised --
Ms Churley: Ms.
Mr Bisson: Ms Churley -- in regard to the issue about the role of the opposition and government members in committee of the whole, I spent, in 1994, a lot of time with Conservative members, the now Minister of Northern Development and Mines, on the sustainable forestry development act, and I can tell you that when the Tories came forward with amendments to our legislation that were practical in nature -- not on philosophical, because I agree with the member for Riverdale; on philosophical things we're not going to agree -- when the Honourable Mr Hodgson brought forward suggestions to make the legislation work, because what we intended to do and what we told the drafters of the bill to do didn't quite work out in practicality, I can tell you, as a government member, I was out talking to the ministry staff and saying: "Is what this guy saying real? Is he right?" They would say, "Well, yeah, he is right," and I'd say, "Fine, we're going to change it." "Well, you can't do that." "Never mind, we are going to change it." We'd talk to the Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Howard Hampton at the time, and we would get the darned thing changed. Because why would we want to allow, as government members, the minister's bill standing in the name of the government to have flaws in it? Then we end up with a bill that doesn't do what we want it to do in the first place, and I would think it would be to the interests of the government members to make sure that they do their jobs in making sure that when Bill 20 comes out, it does what they want it to do.
I'm telling you on this particular clause, this is going quite in the opposite direction. So what's the role of the government members on this committee? Are they here just to vote and support the bureaucrats and the minister? Is that what the role is here?
The Chair: Further comment? Seeing no comment, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment fails.
You can disregard the next amendment because it was identical. I'll put the question regarding section 20. Section 20, as amended, carries? Contrary? Section 20 carries.
Mr Bisson: I move that section 21 of the bill be struck out. This is the apartments in houses issue. Obviously --
The Chair: Excuse me, Mr Bisson, but that motion is out of order. You can't move to delete an entire section. The proper course of action is to simply vote against the section.
Mr Bisson: Thank you very much. We will do that.
The Chair: All those in favour of section 21 carrying? Contrary? Section 21 carries.
Seeing no amendments proposed for sections 22 and 23, are there any comments, questions or suggestions for sections 22 and 23?
Mr Bisson: I do with regard to sections 22 and 23. I ask the question again, what is the role of the government members on this committee? Is it strictly to support the wishes of the minister and the chosen few and the political staff in the Premier's office, or are they here to do their jobs and to make legislation better for the people of Ontario? I want to know.
Ms Churley: No, for the developers. They're here for the developers.
Mr Murdoch: You want to know.
Mr Bisson: Because if this is the case, I don't know why we're even bothering going through the farce of going through the rest of these amendments. We may as well just say to hell with it, quite frankly. We all have better things to do here.
Ms Churley: Bill Murdoch thinks that's a good idea, actually.
Mr Bisson: I would have a suggestion. You should take Murdoch and not put him on committees, because quite frankly he's not playing even in the minimal role that the other members are doing trying to be quiet.
Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): He knows more about planning than you will ever know.
Mr Hardeman: Mr Chairman, point of order.
Ms Churley: He certainly does know what a severance is.
Mr Carr: -- and you're criticizing other people. Don't start the bullshit, Bisson.
The Chair: Mr Hardeman has the floor. Order.
Mr Hardeman: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: I do believe that the purpose of this committee is to discuss and to debate Bill 20 and not for either party or either side of the room to debate the responsibility of other members on the committee.
Mr Carr: I hear you yapping. Don't you criticize people who know more than you do, Gilles. Get up and leave and go back to Cochrane.
The Chair: Order.
Mr Hardeman: On the point of order, Mr Chairman: If a certain member of the committee does not feel that they are spending their time wisely, it is their choice that they are here. All members of the committee are here for their purposes, and if they do not feel that their time is appropriately spent, they can make those decisions on their own. I believe we should be debating Bill 20, not the merits of what other members of the committee are here for.
Mr Bisson: I would say on Bill 20 the point of committee of the whole is in order to take a look at the sections of the bill in order to make sure that the bill does what the government intends it to do. I just ask, what's the role of the government members? I've never seen government members on a committee be so quiet as what we're finding here in regard to their views on particular sections.
The Chair: I would ask all members to direct their comments to the sections of the bill under discussion, and, Mr Carr, I would ask you to withdraw your one unparliamentary phrase.
Mr Carr: I will not withdraw it.
Ms Churley: Say BS then.
Mr Carr: I believe in everything. You cannot criticize that member, Gilles. You can disagree, but do not criticize a man who knows more about it and has given more to the planning of this. You might disagree, but that man knows more about planning than you will ever know.
Mr Bisson: Mr Chair, just on a point of order.
The Chair: No, no. Mr Bradley's next.
Mr Bisson: On a point of privilege: I certainly don't want to offend Mr Murdoch --
Mr Carr: Well, you did.
Ms Churley: Let him speak for himself.
Mr Bisson: Listen, I certainly don't want to offend Mr Murdoch, but understand what we're trying to say here. I'm not going to go into the whole debate again. We would just like government members to participate in the process.
But I do believe there was an unparliamentary comment that was made by Mr Carr and I would ask that it be withdrawn.
Mr Baird: Did the honourable member not make the same comment yesterday in telling us what the acronym that the member for Riverdale used was?
Mr Bisson: Check Hansard. It wasn't raised at the time, and check Hansard. If it was, I withdraw it. I have no problem with saying that. I ask the member from Oakville to do the same.
The Chair: Mr Carr, would you please consider withdrawing that one word.
Mr Carr: In the interest of peace I will -- well, first of all, before I go through it, just refrain from criticizing individuals. To keep the peace, I will withdraw.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Carr. Are there any further comments regarding sections 22 or 23? Seeing none, I'll put the question. Is it the favour of this committee sections 22 and 23 carry? All in favour? Contrary? Sections 22 and 23 carry.
Mr Bradley: I have an amendment to section 24. Again, I believe this amendment to section 24 is most helpful, and I'll explain in a moment, after I read the amendment.
I move that section 24 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:
"(4) Subsection 41(10) of the act is repealed and the following substituted:
"Notice and enforcement of agreements
"(10) The applicable municipality may enforce an agreement entered into under clause (7)(c) or (8)(b) against the owner and, subject to the Registry Act and the Land Titles Act, each subsequent owner of the land,
"(a) if the agreement is registered against the land to which it applies; or
"(b) if the agreement is recorded by the municipality in the same place that it records information about the zoning status of properties.
"Notice and enforcement of approvals and conditions
"(10.1) The applicable municipality may enforce the terms of an approval under subsection (4) and the conditions imposed under subsection (7) against the owner and, subject to the Registry Act and the Land Titles Act, each subsequent owner of the land,
"(a) if the terms and conditions are registered against the land to which they apply; or
"(b) if the terms and conditions are recorded by the municipality in the same place that it records information about the zoning status of properties."
Let me briefly explain why I want to see this motion carry. The issue is this: how to make binding site plan approval on not only the developer who seeks the site plan approval in the first place, but also all subsequent owners and mortgagees.
Municipalities should be given two options re site plan approval enforcement: registering against the land to which it applies, that is, registering the agreement on title; or recording the approval and conditions with the zoning status of properties by the municipality. This is a simpler, less costly, less time-consuming alternative to the present system of preparation and registration of agreements regarding site plan approval.
This is a problem, I know, and some municipalities have expressed this concern about the ability to enforce these site plan agreements on the people who own the property later on or the mortgagees. Anybody who sat on a municipal council has to go through these problems from time to time; where the original owner may have been in compliance and may have been cooperative with the municipality, subsequent owners and mortgagees are people who have simply not lived up to those obligations.
My amendment I hope is a practical solution to this. I'd be interested in the reaction of the ministry, whether it believes that this would be helpful to the municipalities or whether it believes it would not be helpful.
Mr Hardeman: The government will not be supporting the motion. Site plan agreements bind subsequent owners of land and consequently affect interest on the land. Given this effect, agreement should be registered on title to the land to give affected individuals fair notice. Land owners should not be obligated to conduct a zoning bylaw search to determine if there are any outstanding obligations relating to the land. Cost and time efficiency may not be available for subsequent land owners or other individuals who simply wish to determine if there are any outstanding obligations relating to the land.
A search can be done in the registry office on the same day for $5. If a copy of the agreement is required, it costs 50 cents per page. Currently, a search with the city costs $60, requires a written request and takes two to three days for a response. If the Planning Act is amended to allow municipalities to have an alternate method of keeping records of these agreements, municipalities could charge any amount they see fit to individuals requesting this information, and there is no obligation to make the agreement available on the same day as requested.
An amendment may eliminate the opportunity for subsequent owners to have notice of site plan agreements affecting their land if they do not know that both a title search and a search of the municipality's zoning records could be required. Currently, agreements and other instruments affecting the land are registered on title. By recording site plan agreements in an existing zoning recording system, the city is treating them as if they were like zoning bylaws. These agreements, however, are quite different from the zoning bylaws as they impose conditions on land owners which a zoning bylaw cannot do. A more likely comparison is a subdivision agreement which must be registered on title in order to bind subsequent owners.
An amendment could introduce an inconsistent system varying from municipality to municipality across the province. Some site plan agreements would be registered on title and others would require a zoning bylaw search. The government does not deem it appropriate for individuals to not know which system was in place across the province.
Ms Churley: I must admit that I haven't paid a whole lot of attention to this section in the bill. It seems a bit technical, although I'm concerned that it may have wider implications than I'm aware of here. It seems to me to be a minor change, but you seem to make it more major than I thought it was. It's my understanding that this amendment requires agreements with a developer to provide amenities to be recorded by a municipality in a publicly accessible place. Is that the difference? I don't know which one of you can answer that.
Mr Bradley: Mr Murdoch might be able to.
Ms Churley: He's the expert. Mr Murdoch has, according to Mr Carr, this great wealth of knowledge on the Planning Act. I wonder if he could, because of his knowledge, explain the difference, because it is quite technical. I would ask the Chair if --
Mr Murdoch: You go ahead, Ernie. You're the parliamentary assistant.
Mr Hardeman: The concern of the government, first of all, is the inconsistency. The system is available in Toronto today. It is not available in the rest of the province. The majority of the province would still be registering these agreements on title. It would be very difficult for an individual or anyone wishing to know whether there were impediments to the title of the land if in some areas it's registered with the municipality through their zoning process and in other areas it's in the registry office. So for consistency, we believe we should not pass a law that says that in some areas they can do it in one way and in some areas they can do it in another way.
Ms Churley: This question around consistency, I again find you're not at all being consistent in where you consider you should be consistent and where you don't need to be. It's okay in some municipalities, for instance, to have different laws about basement apartments. That's one example where you don't mind inconsistencies.
I'm not so sure that in this case the inconsistencies would cause any harm, why you couldn't have where possible, where available, a difference. What harm would it cause? Would it delay a process somehow? I don't see the reasoning there. I admit I'm not really knowledgeable about this aspect, but it appears to me on the surface that it wouldn't cause any difficulties.
Mr Hardeman: As it relates to the comparison of apartments in homes and this amendment, the information that would be created by removing the right of accessory apartments will be the type of information that is and always has been available through the zoning process. Everyone involved in that process would know that they would look to the municipality for that information.
A site plan agreement, as we're talking about in this, if an individual from -- just to pick a place -- southwest Oxford were to come into Toronto and had sufficient financial resources and were to purchase a property, he would in this case look in a different area for the site plan information than he would if he purchased that property in Oxford county.
Having said that, it's quite possible that they would not do that, that they would end up purchasing property and they did not know everything that was on title. In the process of searching title, you would find that information as it's registered in the registry office. In this process, you would not find it. You would have to go to city hall to find that information. You may already own the property when you find that out. So I think to protect the public, it requires a uniform system as to where this information would be available.
Mr Bisson: Just for clarification, presently outside of the city of Toronto the practice is that that information is kept by the municipality?
Mr Hardeman: In all areas, to legalize this type of agreement, it must be registered on title. In the city of Toronto, my understanding is that they have another system that registers it on the property within the municipal structure.
Mr Bisson: So in regard to the site plan, the site plan is on my title of property? I'm asking the question.
Mr Bisson: Then I'm not quite clear what the Liberal amendment is trying to do here. You're trying to set up a dual system?
Mr Hardeman: We did have a presentation to the committee structure from the city of Toronto requesting that this be added to the bill, to deal with how they are presently registering the site plan agreements. It seems to be working very well. It's the age of technology; it's working well in Toronto.
The question is, under the present statutes of Ontario, whether registering that way would bind subsequent owners of those properties. They requested that it be added into the bill that that was as efficient and as binding, being registered by the city on their zoning process, as others are registering at the registry office. That's where the government has concerns about the consistency. Subsequent owners would not know in all cases where to look for that information. They could be owners of property that had great impediments on it that they were never made aware of in the title search when the transfer of that property was done.
Mr Bradley: I appreciate the clarification from the parliamentary assistant and the members of the Ministry of Housing. Indeed, that's where the motion did come from, a presentation that was made to committee, and I was very interested in how you felt it would impact across the province.
The Chair: Any further discussion? Seeing none, all those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? I deem the amendment to fail.
I'll put the question on 24. Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 24 carries? All those opposed? The section carries.
Section 25. Any comments, questions or amendments?
Mr Hardeman: Mr Chairman, the government will be voting against section 25. This is a consequential amendment, since the minor variance provisions in sections 45 and 45.1 of the Planning Act are being removed. Again, this deals with the appeal to the OMB on minor variances, so we will not be supporting this section.
Mr Bradley: I have a little note written on this that says: "Bill 20 originally added a new provision requiring a majority of the committee of adjustment to make a valid decision. A smaller quorum would not be allowed. This amendment deletes this provision." Is that what this does? Yes? What are the merits of that, then? What are the arguments that are put forward on that?
Mr Hardeman: We'll ask legal branch to tell us.
Ms Elaine Ross: Elaine Ross, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, legal services branch. The reason that we're now removing these sections is because they're already in pre-Bill 20, section 45. So when we vote down section 26 of the bill, that will make the existing minor variance provisions in the act bounce back, and these sections are already in there, so we won't need them here.
Mr Bradley: On the matter of a quorum, could you explain that? What specifically happens with a quorum now and after we vote on this?
Ms Ross: There's no difference now and afterwards.
Mr Bradley: No difference. Okay.
Mr Bisson: Just so that I understand, taking 25 in basically deals with later sections that deal with section 26, just to make them all concur with each other. That's all we're doing here?
Mr Hardeman: This goes back to the way it was written in Bill 163.
Mr Bisson: Can I just saying something here on this? I would for once congratulate the government in actually listening to what presenters had to say on this particular issue. I think it's fairly clear that pretty well everybody who came before the committee, by majority --
Ms Churley: Except AMO.
Mr Bisson: Except AMO, I would point out -- said that really this idea of taking away the ability to appeal to the OMB minor variances was the wrong thing to do. I congratulate the government for once actually listening to somebody. It's one of the few times I've seen that happen.
Ms Churley: It's true that it was everybody except AMO, which really astounded me because a lot of the representatives from municipalities and developers agreed that this was a problem. Not to take away from my colleague's congratulations, but I expect that in keeping with this government's approach to the new Planning Act, this would change, because even the developers had a problem with it.
Mr Bradley: Well, if they have a problem with it --
Ms Churley: So if they have a problem with it, it gets changed.
The Chair: Are there any further comments? Seeing none, I'll put the question. Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 25 carry? All those in favour? All those opposed? I deem section 25 does not carry. It's defeated.
Mr Bisson: Just to make things go a little bit quicker, we all have the same motion here on section 26 of the bill. Seeing that the government is going to amend this -- both the NDP and the Liberals have amendments on section 26 that I take it will basically bring us back into sync with what the government was trying to do in section 25. I would withdraw, if it's in order, the NDP motion, section 26, and just put on Hansard that by doing so we're going to allow the minor variances to go forward. Can we do that?
The Chair: If you don't make the motion, it's deemed to have been withdrawn.
Mr Bisson: I'll let the Liberal Party do its own.
Mr Bradley: Similarly, the Liberal motion is identical to the NDP motion and is in keeping, I think, with what the government wants to do. However, the government motion looks like it's much shorter, if I have the right version. Is there any reason the government motion is much shorter?
Mr Hardeman: It has to do with streamlining the planning process.
Mr Bradley: I'm prepared to move my motion, but if your motion does exactly the same thing --
Mr Hardeman: I think for clarification of the committee, the two motions from the opposition were putting a whole framework in place. The government's motion is to revert back to the Bill 163 wording, so it requires much less wording.
Mr Bisson: Yes, because it's already in the bill.
Mr Bradley: It accomplishes the same thing. If you're going to move it, I guess we will support it, if it accomplishes the same thing and there are no tricks to it.
The Chair: So you're not making a motion either, Mr Bradley?
Ms Churley: Well, I think he'd like an answer on that. Is there any difference?
Mr Bisson: It brings you back to 163.
Mr Hardeman: Take my word for it, there are no tricks.
Ms Churley: There are no tricks.
The Chair: Are there any further amendments?
Mr Bisson: Oh, here come the tricks.
Mr Hardeman: My apologies. It's not a trick, but there is a change from 163 and it deals with the board's ability to make a change to the original application without giving notice that that was done in the board process -- if it's a minor change.
Mr Bradley: In that event, I will move my motion then. Does a motion, by procedure, have to be read into the record or may it be deemed to have been read?
The Chair: It has to be read, Mr Bradley.
Mr Bradley: I will read it then. Here it comes, moved by myself, section 26 of the bill, subsections 45(10) and (11) to (11.13) of the Planning Act. That's what we're talking about.
I move that subsections 45(10) and (11) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 26 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(10) The decision of council on an application shall be in writing and shall set out the reasons for the decision.
"Notice of decision
"(11) The clerk of the municipality shall send out a copy of the decision, certified by him or her, to the following persons not later than 10 days after the decision is made:
"1. The minister, if the minister has notified the council that he or she wishes to receive a copy of all decisions of council under this section.
"2. The applicant.
"3. Each person or public body who has asked in writing to be notified of the decision.
"Appeal to OMB
"(11.1) The applicant, the minister or any other person or public body who has an interest in the matter may appeal the decision of the committee to the municipal board by filing a notice of appeal with the secretary-treasurer of the committee within 20 days after the decision is made and paying the applicable fee under the Ontario Municipal Board Act.
"Notice of appeal
"(11.2) The notice of appeal must set out the objection to the decision and the reasons in support of the objection.
"(11.3) The secretary-treasurer shall promptly forward the notice of appeal and the fee to the municipal board together with everything filed with the committee of adjustment relating to the matter being appealed and such other things as the board may require.
"No appeal or appeal withdrawn
"(11.4) If no notice of appeal is given within 20 days after the decision is made, or if all appeals to the municipal board are withdrawn, the decision of the committee is final. The secretary-treasurer shall notify the applicant and shall file a certified copy of the decision with the clerk of the municipality.
"Powers of the OMB
"(11.5) The municipal board may make any decision on the appeal that the committee could have made on the original application.
"(11.6) The board may dismiss an appeal after holding a hearing or without holding one, as the board considers appropriate.
"(11.7) Before dismissing an appeal, the municipal board shall give the appellant an opportunity to make representations in respect of the appeal.
"Dismissal without hearing
"(11.8) The municipal board may, on its own motion or on the motion of a party, dismiss all or part of an appeal without holding a hearing,
"(a) if the board is of the opinion that,
"(i) the reasons set out in the notice of appeal do not disclose any apparent land use planning ground upon which the board could allow all or part of the appeal,
"(ii) the appeal is not made in good faith or is frivolous or vexatious, or
"(iii) the appeal is made only for the purpose of delay;
"(b) if the appellant has not provided written reasons for the appeal;
"(c) if the appellant has not paid the applicable fee under the Ontario Municipal Board Act; or
"(d) the appellant has not responded to a request by the board for further information within the time specified by the board.
"Notice of hearing
"(11.9) The Municipal Board shall give notice of its hearing to the applicant, the appellant, and the secretary-general of the committee -- "
The Chair: Excuse me, Mr Bradley, you added a word there.
Mr Bisson: You're paying attention, Steve.
Mr Bradley: Where is this?
The Chair: You added the word "and" after "appellant."
Mr Bradley: Okay, I'll try this again.
"Notice of hearing
"(11.9) The municipal board shall give notice of its hearing to the applicant, the appellant, the secretary-general of the committee" --
The Chair: Excuse me, secretary-treasurer.
Mr Bradley: Secretary-treasurer. What did I say?
The Chair: General.
Ms Churley: General.
Mr Bradley: I must have the United Nations --
The Chair: We have enough on our plate, we don't have to worry about world issues.
Mr Murdoch: There's an appointment coming up.
Mr Bradley: I'm thinking of that appointment -- "the secretary-general of the committee" --
The Chair: You did it again.
Mr Bradley: -- "the secretary-treasurer of the committee and to such other persons or public bodies and in such manner as the board may determine.
"(11.10) On an appeal, the municipal board may make a decision on an application which has been amended from the original application if, before issuing its order, written notice is given to those who received notice of the original application for the minor variance.
"(11.11) A person or public body who receives notice under subsection (11.10) may notify the board of an intention to appear at the hearing, if any, or the resumption of the hearing, as the case may be. Notice under this section must be given not later than 30 days after the person or public body receives the notice under subsection (11.10).
"(11.12) Subsections (11.5) to (11.8) apply, with necessary modifications, with respect to an application which has been amended from the original application.
"Notice of decision
"(11.13) The secretary-treasurer of the committee shall file a copy of the order of the municipal board with the clerk of the municipality."
That is the motion. The reason is as follows. The reason will be shorter than the motion and will not refer to the secretary-general, I assure you. This amendment restores the right of appeal on minor variances. Minor variances are small zoning changes, often for residential properties, for such things as adding porches, swimming pools and additions to houses. Under the government bill, there would be no appeal mechanism of a council decision.
Minor variance appeals use only a small portion -- it's estimated, I think, 6% -- of OMB time and there is no compelling reason for the removal from the process. In fact, the elimination of such appeals may result in more rezoning applications to municipalities and ultimately to the OMB, thereby of course increasing cost. This is similar to, but not identical to, I believe, what the government wishes to accomplish.
I think members who had the opportunity I didn't of sitting in on a number of the hearings heard this issue mentioned, and those who've received communications heard this issue mentioned by a number of people who made representations either in writing or orally to the committee.
Mr Hardeman: The government will not be supporting the resolution. One of the concerns we have with the resolution is that it is an addition to the process set out in Bill 20 that deals with how the appeal process would be initiated originally from the committee of adjustment dealing with members of the committee of adjustment going through council and then going through the Ontario Municipal Board.
The intent of that section was to reduce the number of appeals and processes going to the Ontario Municipal Board. We heard a lot of presentations during our public deliberations that there was concern the application should go to the Ontario Municipal Board. The government has listened to that concern. We have decided to go back to the direct appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
We're convinced the process that does that in Bill 163 is fairly straightforward, that the committee of adjustment makes its decision and that decision is appealable by anyone wishing to do so, in the act, can be forwarded to the Ontario Municipal Board. For that reason we do not support this motion, but we'll be putting forward a motion that's subsequent to this to deal with a direct appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
The Chair: Any further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Opposed? The amendment failed.
Mr Hardeman: I move that section 26 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
" 26(1) Section 45 of the act, as amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 1993, chapter 26, section 56 and 1994, chapter 23, section 26, is further amended by adding the following subsection:
"(18.1.1) The municipal board is not required to give notice under subsection (18.1) if, in its opinion, the amendment to the original application is minor.
(2) Subsection 45(18.4) of the act, as enacted by the Statutes of Ontario, 1993, chapter 26, section 56, is repealed and the following substituted:
"(18.4) If a notice of intent is received, the board may hold a hearing or resume the hearing on the amended application or it may issue its order without holding a hearing or resuming the hearing."
The two motions are the same powers as those given to the Ontario Municipal Board when dealing with appeals on consent applications under section 53 of the act. They will give the OMB some flexibility in dealing with appeals on minor variance applications which have been amended.
Mr Bisson: Just one question: The difference between what you have in 163 and what you intend on doing with this is that there won't be any need for a public meeting.
Mr Hardeman: No, this is an amendment that deals with an application for a minor variance that was appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, and in the process of that, adjustments were made to the application that changed it, but the OMB could then still decide on that application without further notice.
Mr Bisson: I was reading this. It says, "The municipal board is not required to give notice under subsection (18.1) if, in its opinion, the amendment to the original application" -- okay, got you.
Mr Hardeman: If the request for the minor variance was for a two-foot frontage and the decision was at the one-foot frontage that would be a change, but they would not have to go through the public notice process.
The Chair: Any further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment's passed.
Section 26, as amended. Is it the favour of the committee that section 26, as amended, carry? Contrary? Carried.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 27(1) of the bill be struck out.
This is a consequential amendment since the new minor variance provisions in sections 45 and 45.1 of the Planning Act were voted down and the amendment to subsection 47(2) of the Planning Act is no longer needed.
The Chair: Further discussion?
Mr Bisson: One second here. Okay, thank you.
The Chair: Seeing no further discussion, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment carries.
Mr Bisson: Subsections 27(2) and (3) of the bill (clauses 47(11)(a) and 47(12.1)(a) of the Planning Act):
I move that subsections 27(2) and (3) of the bill be struck out.
Basically, we're back to the same argument in regard to official plan amendments being denied on prematurity. I think we've made all of the arguments we wanted to make on previous motions. Unless the government plans on changing its mind from the previous votes, I think the arguments have been made.
Mr Hardeman: I and the government will not be supporting this motion, for the arguments that the opposition has made on previous -- the prematurity test and the ability to have the board hear the application with all the relevant factors remain and that should remain in zoning orders, as it does in the zoning bylaws and the official plan amendments.
The Chair: Further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? All those opposed? The amendment fails.
Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: The government just voted against its own amendment. If you'd note, I read the wrong amendment.
The Chair: No, (2) and (3).
Mr Bisson: No, I recognize that. I wanted to read -- but I think, if you check Hansard --
The Chair: No, you didn't.
Mr Bisson: I did not? Thank you.
The Chair: No.
All those in favour that section 27, as amended, carries? Contrary? Section 27, as amended, is carried.
Seeing no amendments proposed to section 28, I'll put the question. All those in favour that section 28 carries? All those opposed? Section 28 carries.
Section 29. I think the first one is a Liberal motion.
Mr Hardeman: Mr Chairman, I request we set down section 29 to a later time. I have some amendments to 29. The committee may wish to defer a decision on that so they have the opportunity to go through the amendments rather than vote on them at the present time.
Mr Bisson: Are you saying that we have new amendments?
Mr Bradley: Yes.
The Chair: If you're going to talk about 29, you should talk about 30 as well, because there are amendments to that section.
Mr Hardeman: I would ask that 30 then also be set down.
The Chair: Is there unanimous debate that we postpone debate on sections 29 and 30 until after lunch? Thank you.
Moving on to section 31, any comments, questions or amendments to section 31?
Mr Bradley: The government wants us to vote against its own bill. Is that what it's saying?
Interjection: It's not unheard of, of course.
Mr Hardeman: We don't have an amendment to this section. We are only suggesting the government will be voting against the section of the bill. Again, it relates to the change in the appeal of the minor variance process. Going back to the full appeal for minor variances will require not having this section in the bill.
The Chair: That having been said, is there any further discussion on section 31?
The Chair: It's not a motion.
Mr Hardeman: Again, to the comments, I do not suggest amendment to section 31, only that the government will be voting against section 31.
The Chair: Is it the favour of this committee that section 31 carries? All those in favour? Contrary? Section 31 is defeated.
Mr Hardeman: Again, I do not have any amendments to section 32, but I will be suggesting that I, as a member of the government side, will be voting against section 32.
Mr Bradley: I have a prediction.
Mr Hardeman: I'm not going to be alone.
The Chair: Is there any further discussion on section 32?
Ms Churley: Why are you recommending that the members of the government --
Mr Hardeman: The amendment is the same as in section 31. It relates to the minor variance provisions, and they are no longer required because of the change to the appeal process.
The Chair: If there is no further discussion, is it the favour of this committee that section 32 carries? All those in favour? All those opposed? Section 32 is defeated.
Seeing no amendments proposed for sections 33 and 34, are there any comments, questions or amendments on sections 33 and 34? Seeing none, I'll put the question. Is it the favour of the committee that sections 33 and 34 carry? All those in favour? Contrary? Sections 33 and 34 carry.
Mr Bradley: The Liberal Party has an amendment to propose to section 35.
The Chair: Excuse me, Mr Bradley. We're dealing with section 35. Yours would be a new section, so we must conclude debate on section 35 before we deal with your motion.
Are there any comments or amendments to section 35 itself?
Mr Bradley: Not now, you're saying?
The Chair: Not now.
Seeing none, is it the favour of this committee that section 35 carries? All those in favour? Opposed? Section 35 carries.
Now, Mr Bradley.
Mr Bradley: Thank you Mr Chairman. I move that the bill be amended by adding the following section:
"35.1 The act is amended by adding the following section:
"Mediation of OMB appeals, etc.
"65.1 (1) The Municipal Board may use mediation to attempt to resolve matters that are referred or appealed to the board, before determining the matter in the manner provided under the act.
"(2) The municipal board may employ or retain the services of persons to provide mediation services under the act."
The reasoning is as follows: The amendment enables the OMB to use mediation to attempt to resolve disputes appealed to the board. The provincial facilitator's office mediation pilot project successfully mediated approximately 80% of all OMB appeals it dealt with, at a cost of $800 to $1,000 per appeal. It's efficient and effective.
I should note that legislative counsel advises that the motion may be ruled out of order because it is not addressed in the bill. I'm just wondering whether you were going to rule it out of order.
The Chair: No, it is in order.
Mr Bradley: Okay. Because I went on to say that it does, however, appear to be within the scope of the long title of the bill, so there was an argument that it could be ruled in order. I'm glad that you've ruled it in order. I'd be very interested in the government's comments on this motion.
The Chair: Mr Bisson.
Mr Bisson: Government comments, I think.
The Chair: Your hand was up first.
Mr Bisson: I'd be prepared to hear what the parliamentary assistant says, because he might agree with it and I won't have to comment.
Mr Hardeman: I'm glad to hear that everyone is interested in what the government has to say. The government does not support the motion. The current provisions in section 65 of the act already provide the OMB and its agents with the ability to use mediation, conciliation or other disputes resolution techniques to resolve concerns and disputes, and we do not deem it appropriate to give any further direction in this act as to how they shall deal with the applications.
Mr Bisson: Let me ask a question then to the parliamentary assistant: If this particular motion was supported and put into the bill, would it allow for more opportunity for mediation than presently exists or would it not change it at all?
Mr Hardeman: We do not believe that it would change. We think everything that is being proposed in this resolution would be available presently under the OMB system if the OMB so decided to use that discretion.
Mr Bisson: So in your opinion it would not allow more mediation than presently exists under the act?
Mr Hardeman: No. I think the mediation that presently is available is as extensive as what this would allow, or this would provide for.
Mr Bisson: I would just ask for the logic then from the Liberal party, what it is that they intended to do in addition?
Mr Bradley: We think it makes it more specific that the OMB would use mediation. We think it is just more prescriptive than it exists at the present time. It's not a major problem. But I know that in opposition you wouldn't mind supporting it.
Mr Bisson: I just wanted to find out.
Mr Bradley: The member for Middlesex agrees with me; I saw him nodding. Maybe he was nodding off.
Mr Bisson: I asked the question in order to make sure that I'm clear about what I'm voting on, what this motion intends to do. I believe that mediation is a much better way to go, and if this motion allows for more mediation and a clearer way to give direction to the board to go to mediation, I think we should support it. On principle, I will support it.
The Chair: Any further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Opposed? The amendment fails.
Seeing no amendments proposed for sections 36 though 44, I'll ask if there are any comments, questions or amendments to sections 36 through 44? Seeing none, is it the favour of this committee that section 36 through 44 carry? All those in favour? Opposed? Sections 36 through 44 carried.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 76(2) of the Planning Act, as set out in section 45 of the bill, be amended by striking out the portion that precedes clause (a) and substituting the following:
"(2) Section 1, subsections 16(2), (3) and (4), 31(3.1) and (3.2), 35(1), (3) and (4) and 51(28), (29) and (30) of the act and Ontario regulation 384/94, as they read on November 15, 1995, continue to apply to a detached house, a semi-detached house or a row house if on or before the day on which subsection 21(1) of the Land Use Planning and Protection Act, 1996 comes into force."
This is the changing of the effective date as it relates to the apartments in houses, changing it to date of proclamation as opposed to date of introduction of Bill 20, to deal with the issue of municipalities that may or may not have known of the existence of Bill 20 that have issued permits on houses that were being constructed during that time frame, and also for those people who had started the process. The committee will be aware -- we heard presentations, particularly in the city of Ottawa -- of a gentleman who had gone to quite extensive work to arrive at a second unit; not that he suggested that he supported the principle, but he felt that if it was legal, he should be allowed to do it. He had expended a lot of money and he did not want to be denied now, after that investment. The government feels that it's appropriate to put the time line on the date of proclamation and everyone existing at that time would be grandfathered under Bill 20.
Ms Churley: Just a suggestion: Some of us say "grandparenting" these days instead of "grandfathering." That was one suggestion. I know it's not in fashion these days to bring these kinds of things up, but some of us keep trying.
I just want to thank the government for listening to this. It was clearly pointed out to us that this would have created some real hardship through nobody's personal fault, and I'm glad that I can support this amendment. It's one of the few recommendations before us today from the government side that actually show a little bit of good common sense.
Mr Bradley: I will indicate our support for this. I would warn Ms Churley that whenever one commends the government, it can appear in a government newsletter. I recall reading a statement of a complimentary fashion that I made in the House about the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Mr Kells.
Ms Churley: I read that.
Mr Bradley: I read it in his brochure that came out, excerpted appropriately, of course.
Anyway, I do believe it is fair to do it this way. I think there's a lot of sense to what is proposed. We're not leaving some people in limbo. We're making certain that everyone knows the law is passed. I'm sure you'll have some kind of information out when the law is passed that will tell everyone it is passed.
The other thing I would note, though, that is of great interest is that you're going to grandparent this, but when it comes to the development charges for the developers, that provision stays at November 1 for municipalities. If I read the bill further on, the developers are going to get their way because the municipalities will know that, as of November 15, on development charges the rules change. But in here it's the proclamation of the bill. I just note that as a matter of interest.
The Chair: Any further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment carries.
Let's just finish section 45. Is it the favour of the committee that section 45 carries as amended? All those in favour? Contrary? Section 45 carries.
Seeing as it is noon, we will recess for one hour and return at 1 o'clock.
The committee recessed from 1200 to 1307.
The Chair: Seeing a quorum present, I call the meeting back to order. We left off at section 45. The first order of business will be section 29, which we had suspended debate on to allow an opportunity over the lunch-hour for the other two parties to review the amendments. Whenever you're ready, Mr Hardeman.
Mr Hardeman: It's just a great feeling to have everyone waiting on one.
The Chair: I should be castigating Mr Bradley. The first amendment is one of yours.
Mr Bradley: I found it. Section 29.
I move that subsection 29(3) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
"(3) Subsection 51(17) of the act, as re-enacted by the Statutes of Ontario, 1994, chapter 23, section 30, is amended by striking out the portion that precedes clause (a) and substituting the following:
"(17) The applicant shall provide the approval authority with such information and material as the approval authority considers necessary to determine the application, including as many copies as the approval authority may require of a draft plan of the proposed subdivision drawn to scale and showing,"
The reason I am proposing this: The existing act and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing can determine in part what constitutes a complete application. Currently a complete application as defined does not include enough information for council to make an informed decision on the planning merits of an application. For example, a preliminary stormwater management report is not prescribed information for subdivision applications nor is the soil study if the site was formerly used for industrial purposes. In such instances, how can a municipality make a sound decision that safeguards the interests of the community and the environment?
When presented with an inadequate application, the time limits prescribed in the act will continue to run and a proponent may then appeal to the OMB if a decision has not been made. Municipalities must have the authority to pass a bylaw setting out what information is required for a complete application in addition to the legislated and provincial prescribed information. This will ensure better and appropriately local level implementation of planning decisions. Neither Bill 20 nor Bill 163 achieved the intent of the complete application content: to reduce the number of files contained within the planning system that contain inadequate information and to make it clear to applicants what will be required in the application.
I've given I think a couple of examples of the kind of information that should be made available. What the province prescribes and what a municipality may want are two different things apparently. There's no question that a preliminary stormwater management report is a necessity, but it's not prescribed information for subdivision applications.
Also, having been Minister of the Environment, I can tell you a soil study is very important if it was a former industrial use. I'm sure the member for Mississauga South, Ms Marland, would agree with me on that, because she's had experience with that, and perhaps even the member for Oakville, who has some industrial sites in his riding. No doubt he will want to join in approval of this particular amendment as well.
Mr Hardeman: We will not be supporting the amendment. I think again it deals with the issue of what starts the time frame for the appeal process. We're not suggesting that municipalities could not require further information in dealing with their applications, but I don't think it's appropriate to suggest that the municipality should have a bylaw that outlines all the things that are required. That would be far too onerous to comply with.
To start an application, there may be many cases where further information is required as the application is being processed and evaluated, but we need a set time when the clock starts to tick on the application. We believe that's appropriate. That's a standard the province sets so everyone is aware what must be supplied for an application to be complete, for the review to start. So we will not be supporting this. We believe that prescribed information should be the same for everyone. Beyond that, the municipalities can require further information as they review the application.
Mr Bradley: It would seem sensible, however, that that information be provided at the earliest possible opportunity as opposed to somewhere along the line. These are two obvious examples I've given you. I wish the province would prescribe that if municipalities can't. Because the province is not prescribing that, I'm suggesting that municipalities should have the opportunity to do so. I'm of the view that the earlier this information is available the better off everyone will be. It may be that a plan that's dreamed up in someone's head may disappear completely if, through the soil testing, there's a determination that it would be impossible to build.
Let me give you one example that you Tories will like particularly, and that's Ataratiri down in Toronto. I can well recall cautioning the cabinet of the day that that would never fly. We're not supposed to talk about cabinet deliberations, so I'll say it was outside of cabinet I said to some of my colleagues that the cost of bringing the soil up to a standard which would be acceptable for residential development would be extremely high. I remember I was chastised by an individual who worked for the city of Toronto at the time saying that I was being alarmist, and of course by some of my cabinet colleagues who thought I was as well.
As it turned out, you see that Ataratiri is not going to fly, and one of the reasons it's not going to fly is because of the soil problems. Had there been some significant work done before this even got off the ground on the soil, I think more people would have been cautioned against proceeding. But it got well down the line and now subsequent people are going to pick up the tab for this particular development.
That's why I'm proposing it. If the province prescribed that, I would say fine, we don't need this. Stormwater management as well is extremely important for subdivision applications, but I must focus on that soil study. There may have been a time when you could build on those old industrial sites without too much of a soil study taking place. There are now standards which have been established for the reclamation of those soils, and in some cases it is not economically feasible to implement a plan because the soils simply are not acceptable for residential purposes. They would be acceptable only for some other industrial purpose.
That's why I'm proposing this. Again, it's a commonsense proposal that I'm making here and I thought it would gather good support, particularly from those who've had some municipal experience either in a staff capacity or an elected capacity.
The Chair: Seeing no further comment, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Opposed? The amendment fails.
Further amendments? Mr Bradley.
Mr Bradley: I have a further amendment. It's to do with subsection 29(4) of the bill and it reads as follows:
I move that subsection 51(2) of the Planning Act, as set out in subsection 29(4) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(20) At least 14 days before a decision is made by an approval authority under subsection (31), the approval authority shall ensure that a public meeting is held, notice of which shall be given in the manner and to the persons and public bodies and containing the information prescribed.
"(20.1) An approval authority may request that a local municipality or a planning board having jurisdiction over the land that is proposed to be subdivided hold the public meeting."
Again, this involves public input, which we have felt all along is very important. We had representations made by a number of people to the committee when I was in Hamilton, and I understand in other places. What this motion in effect does, and it's a very key motion in this bill, is it re-establishes the requirement for a public meeting on a subdivision. This is about retaining public participation in the planning process.
Municipalities and developers will end up spending more time and money on rearguard actions, trying to meet the demands of shut-out citizens, than would be the case if contributions were taken advantage of at the beginning. The meeting held at the official plan amendment or zoning stage can be no substitution for the subdivision meeting, as there are not enough details generally available at this early stage.
I have noted one of the changes since I left office at the municipal level and came to the provincial level -- I think it's a change in there -- is that there seem to be more of these public meetings taking place. When I watch my own city council on cable television, I notice that at 8 o'clock the mayor will say, "It's now time for public meetings." It's interesting to see. In some cases, there are no objections registered. There may be some representatives of the developer there to say it's a great development coming forward and that everyone should approve.
But this is rather fundamental, it seems to me. Those of us who have served at the municipal level and have observed the municipal level understand how important this public meeting is for subdivisions. I shouldn't be surprised, but I am surprised, that the government would go so far as to remove this particular requirement. I know you think you're speeding up the process and that some of these people are tedious and bothersome, and there may be occasions when some of the submissions are vexatious, as the lawyers say.
However, I think it's good for the system. I think a lot of the problems are solved at this stage when people have this information brought forward. The developer hears from people and is then able to address some of the problems, maybe address some of the questions at the very time; there may have been a misinterpretation of the proposal by someone who wishes to object. This is a great opportunity for that exchange to take place and for the developer to either make a modification or provide an explanation that eases the concern of the individual or individuals or groups making representations against a proposed development.
I think if we remove this, you're really taking a major step backward in terms of public participation. It reinforces the theory of some people in the province that this is simply a bill designed to cater to developers, who strongly supported the Conservative Party in the last election. That is what they're saying to me. I'd like to think it's not; I'd like to think, "I proposed this amendment, and these people are going to demonstrate it's not entirely for that purpose, that indeed they believe in public participation." That's why I'm looking forward to the support of the government members to ignore the parliamentary assistant and simply vote as their conscience dictates as opposed to how it is recommended by the parliamentary assistant.
Mr Hardeman: The government will be voting against this motion. One of the reasons it was left out of Bill 20 was, as Mr Bradley said, that many times he has watched city council and they have the section with public meetings and a lot of issues are not being spoken to. Under Bill 163, even in those areas where there was no one there to speak to the application, there was another two-week delay in having that application approved because of the requirement that the public meeting be held at least 14 days prior to the decision of council.
The government members too were on the committee that heard the public presentations and the concern expressed about the removal of the requirement to hold a public meeting, so we have introduced a motion that was distributed to the committee members this morning that does exactly what this does, but it includes a further clause that we believe is required in the legislation. So I will not be voting for this resolution, recognizing that our amendment will do things identical to this but with an added-on section.
Ms Churley: Can I get some clarification on that? Are you saying you presented an amendment this morning that's new and we haven't dealt with it yet?
Mr Hardeman: The next amendment, the government amendment, will be to deal with this section of the bill.
Ms Churley: Oh, I see. I haven't looked at that yet. To determine whether I'm going to support this or yours, what is the major difference between them?
Mr Hardeman: The government amendment will have an addition that the holding of that public meeting can be requested by the approving authority, request that the lower tier hold the meeting and notification of that meeting.
Ms Churley: So in other words --
Mr Murdoch: In other words, just trust us, Marilyn.
Mr Hardeman: I've just been informed there's also a requirement in our motion to give notice of the application.
Ms Churley: In other words, as Mr Murdoch said, "Trust us." Just kidding. You didn't mean that, did you?
Mr Murdoch: I believe you can trust me, Marilyn; I trust you.
Ms Churley: And so you should.
The difference is that in your amendment -- and I'm sorry I haven't read it, but I might as well get clarification now while we're dealing with this motion. Yours is that they would not be required, that they would have the option to call a public meeting within the 14 days?
Mr Hardeman: In the subsection of our amendment, it will require that notice of the application be given "if required by regulation, in the manner and to the persons...."
Ms Churley: So there has to be a regulation.
Mr Hardeman: There's also the responsibilities at the bottom of our amendment that would not be covered in the Liberal amendment.
Ms Churley: I would support the Liberal motion before me because I believe it's stronger. In my quick reading of this, it appears to me that under the motion that will come before us, there is some opting out possible, that a meeting is not absolutely required within that 14-day time period. Am I right?
Mr Hardeman: I stand to be corrected, but I don't believe that's the case.
Ms Churley: I'll wait until you're clear on that.
Mr Hardeman: The legal staff did not hear the question, Ms Churley, if you could repeat it, please.
Ms Churley: I'm trying to determine the main difference between the Liberal motion before us and the one following, the Conservative government motion. What would you say is the main difference between the two of those?
Mr Bradley: If legal counsel wants to talk directly to us, it's all right.
Ms Churley: Yes. Can we have unanimous consent for legal counsel --
Mr Hardeman: There are three differences. In the notice requirement, as was just read into the record, there is a difference. With the amendment before you now, it would be in the act that the public meeting will be held. The amendment that we will be putting forward is the same as it is in Bill 163, that it can be required to be held by regulations.
If the amendment before you now is approved, it would mandate in the bill that the public meeting be held 14 days prior to. Presently, Bill 163 says that, by regulation, those meetings can be required. Plan of subdivision meetings are presently required by regulation.
Ms Churley: What you're doing, then, is putting back the Bill 163 clause.
Mr Hardeman: Yes.
Ms Churley: Okay.
Mr Murdoch: It must be okay.
Ms Churley: No, not necessarily.
Mr Bradley: Marilyn, excuse me, if I can intervene here, if you'd let me.
Ms Churley: Please.
Mr Bradley: The question is then, if it's done by regulation, you can change the regulation without the approval of the Legislature, but if it's done in the act, you can't change the act. From the opposition point of view, we would probably believe it's better in the act than it is in a regulation that you can change without us knowing or without us having participation.
Ms Churley: Thank you. That's helpful. I'm not sure why in Bill 163 it was determined to go that route, but today I certainly support the Liberal motion because it's stronger. It adds the requirement for public meetings. Particularly in light of the lack of public participation in the process throughout this bill, which has been cut out in so many cases -- time frames cut down, in some cases no public participation at all -- I would like to err on the side of caution here and strengthen this clause as best as possible so that we know that within the bill, within the law, there has to be a public meeting, that it can't easily be changed by a regulation. I believe it's absolutely fundamental. I have no problem suggesting that we go beyond what was in Bill 163 and enshrine this in the law.
Mr Bradley: Another concern I have about going the regulation route is that the government at this time is looking to eliminate regulations. My good friend the member for Lincoln has been charged with the responsibility, along with Dr Galt, of looking at all the regulations that exist in government and eliminating them. Knowing my good friend Mr Sheehan as I do, I've never known him to be a great fan of regulations of any kind, so this may be one regulation that might disappear. If it's going to disappear, I would prefer to have a debate in the Legislature where the opposition has input, where public hearings maybe take place, as opposed to it being done behind closed doors with the cabinet and then just being announced somewhere. That is why I feel having it in legislation is superior to having it in regulation.
The Chair: Any further comment? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Opposed? The amendment fails.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 51(20) of the Planning Act, as set out in subsection 29(4) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(20) At least 14 days before a decision is made by an approval authority under subsection (31), the approval authority shall ensure that,
"(a) notice of the application is given, if required by regulation, in the manner and to the persons and public bodies and containing the information prescribed; and
"(b) a public meeting is held, if required by regulation, notice of which shall be given in the manner and to the persons and public bodies and containing the information prescribed.
"(21) An approval authority may request that a local municipality or a planning board having jurisdiction over the land that is proposed to be subdivided give notice of the application or hold the public meeting referred to in subsection (20) or do both.
"(21.1) A local municipality or planning board that is requested to give the notice referred to in clause (20)(a) shall ensure that,
"(a) the notice is given in accordance with the regulation made under clause (20)(a); and
"(b) the prescribed information and material are submitted to the approval authority within 15 days after the notice is given.
"(21.2) A local municipality or planning board that is requested to hold the public meeting referred to in clause (20)(b) shall ensure that,
"(a) notice of the meeting is given in accordance with the regulation made under clause (20)(b);
"(b) the public meeting is held; and
"(c) the prescribed information and material are submitted to the approval authority within 15 days after the meeting is held."
This is the motion referred to in the previous discussion to deal with the holding of a public meeting as it relates to plans of subdivision. We heard many comments as we went around the province from delegates who spoke to the public meetings for plans of subdivision, and invariably those who spoke to it spoke to the need to retain the system as it presently existed in Bill 163. The purpose of this amendment is to do just that.
Ms Churley: I support this amendment and I'm glad to see that you have inserted that back in the bill.
Mr Bradley: I believe it is always better -- not always, but most of the time it's better to have something in legislation than regulation. I still believe this is one area where there has been some movement, and where there has been some movement I think it's worthy of being supportive of that. I think it's some significant movement in this case. I still have that preference, as I say, especially knowing how enamoured many in this government are with government regulations, to see this in legislation. I guess this is saying it's better to get a kick in the shins than a kick in the face.
The Chair: Further conversation? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment carries.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 29(15) of the bill be struck out.
The Chair: Sorry, Mr Hardeman, you've gone out of order.
Ms Churley: I think I'm drowning in paper. We all are by now. The parliamentary assistant is too, I believe. My motion is section 29 of the bill, section 51 of the Planning Act, right?
The Chair: Yes.
Ms Churley: Can I stand that down for a moment while I clarify my own notes here?
The Chair: Well, yours is identical to the Liberal motion that's about to follow, so if we stand that down we'll be debating the same topic.
Ms Churley: All right. I'm happy to stand it down and let the Liberal motion go ahead.
Mr Bradley: I'm looking at subsection 29(6), an amendment. That's what I have in chronological order.
Ms Churley: Yes, that's why I'm lost. I'm confused, too.
The Chair: I don't have one for 29(6); 29(14) is the next one.
Mr Bradley: Let me see if I can find it in here. You may be correct in assuming you don't have it.
Ms Churley: I have now found my piece of paper.
The Chair: Is it before or after 29(6)?
Ms Churley: After.
Mr Bradley: Mine is a motion that's been prepared for the Liberal Party but is not in your package for distribution, so I could also stand it down if you want. I'll tell you what it deals with; tell me whether I'm in order. It dealt with subsection 29(6) of the bill, subsection 51(34) of the Planning Act. It's a motion that would allow appeals of subdivisions directly to the OMB, as Bill 20 does with official plans. The present process of referring a plan of subdivision to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing or regional government is an unnecessary step. If it's out of order, it's out of order. I'm sorry, because I don't think you have a copy of this.
The Chair: Mr Bradley, with your indulgence, could we ask for unanimous support to stand that down while we make copies for the members?
Mr Bradley: That would be fine, thanks.
The Chair: Ms Churley?
Ms Churley: Should I read the actual motion again? I move that section 29 of the bill, section 51 of the Planning Act, be struck out.
The Chair: Forgive me. Could you read that again?
Ms Churley: Section 29 of the bill, section 51 of the Planning Act. Is that what you have?
The Chair: Do I have a different one, or are you just leaving things out? Is it 29(14)?
Ms Churley: Yes.
The Chair: Perhaps you could read it in its entirety.
Ms Churley: Let me read that once again. Subsection 29(14) of the bill, clause 51(53)(a) of the Planning Act:
I move that subsection 29(14) of the bill be struck out.
This one again deals with the premature OPA application. I won't go into the details all over again as to why I want this struck out, but all the reasons are in the record. I stand by those concerns and would ask the government to support me on this resolution.
Mr Hardeman: The government will be voting against the resolution as explained by the member. The prematurity clause to eliminate the right of an individual to be heard because of the criteria used by the approving authority to deny an application I believe is not consistent with the other directions we're taking in Bill 20, that everyone should have a right to be heard and have their day to have the decision made based on the merits of the case as they relate to all the issues related to the planning application.
Mr Bradley: Ms Churley, that appears to be a reasonable explanation you have on that. They say you're going to be shot down. The government is disagreeing with you.
Ms Churley: Where are we now?
The Chair: Your motion.
Ms Churley: I still support my motion.
Mr Hardeman: We've concluded the debate and we're ready for the vote.
Mr Bradley: I could make a speech, but I won't.
The Chair: If there's no further discussion, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment's defeated.
You will note that the Liberal amendment was exactly the same, so we won't deal with that. Any further amendments?
Mr Bradley: On section 29(6), I'm not going to move an amendment. I had indicated that I had one that hadn't been distributed. I know now why it wasn't distributed. I'm going to withdraw it. I like proposing amendments with which I agree, that's why.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 29(15) of the bill be struck out.
Since the provisions to hold a public meeting for plans of subdivision have been restored, the provision in clause 51(53)(b) of the act also should be restored.
The Chair: Any further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment passes.
Is it the favour of the committee that section 29 carry, as amended? All those in favour? Contrary? Section 29, as amended, carries.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 53(5) of the Planning Act, as set in subsection 30(1) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(5) At least 14 days before a decision is made by the council or the minister, the council or the minister shall ensure that,
"(a) notice of the application is given, if required by regulation, in the manner and to the persons and public bodies and containing the information prescribed; and
"(b) a public meeting is held, if required by regulation, notice of which shall be given in the manner and to the persons and public bodies and containing the information prescribed.
"Request by council
"(6) A council may request that a local municipality having jurisdiction over the land that is the subject of the application for consent give notice of the application or hold the public meeting referred to in subsection (5) or do both.
"Request by minister
"(7) The minister may request that a local municipality or planning board having jurisdiction over the land that is the subject of the application for consent give notice of the application or hold the public meeting referred to in subsection (5) or do both.
"(7.1) A local municipality or planning board that is requested under subsection (6) or (7) to give notice shall ensure that,
"(a) the notice is given in accordance with the regulation made under clause (5)(a); and
"(b) the prescribed information and material are submitted to the council or the minister, as the case may be, within 15 days after the notice is given.
"(7.2) A local municipality or planning board that is requested under subsection (6) or (7) to hold a public meeting shall ensure that,
"(a) notice of the meeting is given in accordance with the regulation made under clause (5)(b);
"(b) the public meeting is held; and
"(c) the prescribed information and material are submitted to the council or the minister, as the case may be, within 15 days after the meeting is held."
This amendment does the same in section 30 for consent decisions as it does in section 29 for the plans of subdivision.
The Chair: Further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment carries.
Any other amendments?
Ms Churley: I move that subsection 30(12) of the bill be struck out.
I move this because, once again, it deals with the premature OPA application.
The Chair: Further discussion?
Mr Bradley: Once again I will make the plea; I'm sure it will fall upon unsympathetic minds. I was going to use another saying, but I was told you can't use it in 1996 because it's politically incorrect.
Mr Murdoch: You might have to withdraw it.
Mr Bradley: No, I wouldn't have to withdraw, but it's politically incorrect, as they say.
It's not going to evoke any sympathy in the government side, but it goes back to the issue which I think must be reiterated, that is, the prematurity test. I think you're going to see these proposals moving forward too much, too quickly, when there are no services existing and no evidence that services are going to be existing within a period of time. It's the old prematurity test, the power of the OMB to dismiss matters regarding a consent on the basis of prematurity. The arguments have been made, essentially. Obviously, the government and the opposition disagree and we'll be having a vote.
The Chair: Any further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment's defeated.
The identical Liberal motion can be dispensed with.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 30(13) of the bill be struck out.
This deals with the fact that since the provision for holding a public meeting for consent is restored, the provision in clause 53(31)(b) of the act should also be restored.
Mr Bradley: It makes sense.
The Chair: Further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment carries.
Is it the favour of the committee that section 30, as amended, carry? All those in favour? Contrary? Section 30, as amended, carries.
Back to 46. Are there any comments, suggestions or amendments to section 46?
Mr Bradley: Section 31 of the bill, does the government have an amendment to that?
The Chair: We already dealt with everything from 31 to 45.
Mr Bradley: All of those?
Mr Murdoch: We're up to 46.
The Chair: Section 31 lost.
Mr Bradley: Section 32?
The Chair: Section 32 lost, 33 won.
Mr Bisson: These are all the motions that we didn't do this morning that we deferred.
Mr Bradley: All right, fine. That makes sense.
Mr Bisson: Just for a point of clarification, those are all the amendments that we had deferred this morning that you just dealt with as I walked in.
Mr Murdoch: Yes.
The Chair: There are no amendments to section 46? Comments? Is it the favour of the committee that section 46 carry? All those in favour? Contrary? Section 46 carries.
Mr Bradley: I have a Liberal motion. We recommend voting against section 47 of the bill.
The Chair: That's not a motion, Mr Bradley, and if it were, it would be out of order. But thank you for your comments.
Mr Bradley: I'm just doing an impersonation of the parliamentary assistant.
The Chair: You just can't use the word "motion." Any further comments? All those in favour of section 47 carrying? Contrary? Section 47 carries.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 48(1) of the bill be struck out.
This amendment deletes subsection 48(1) of the bill because it was a complementary amendment resulting from the proposed changes to the minor variance system. This section is no longer needed.
The Chair: Further discussion? Seeing none, all those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment carries.
Is it the favour of the committee that section 48, as amended, carry? All those in favour? Contrary? Section 48, as amended, carries.
Mr Hardeman: I move that clause 4(4)(d) of the Development Charges Act, as set out in subsection 49(1) of the bill, be amended by striking out "subsection (3)" in the fourth line and substituting "subsections (3) and (3.1)."
This motion is to ensure that an affidavit or declaration by the clerk of a municipality, as set out in clause 4(4)(d) of Bill 20, in the record to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing includes reference to the requirements for the timing of notice of a bylaw passed by the municipality contained in subsection 4(3.1) of the act.
This requirement does not add additional administrative costs to the municipalities. Where a municipality passes a bylaw after November 16, it must forward a record to the minister. This amendment provides assurances to the minister that the notice provisions to permit persons and organizations to submit their concerns about the bylaw have been complied with.
The Chair: Further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment carries.
Mr Hardeman: Mr Chairman, I move that section 4 of the Development Charges Act, as amended by subsection 49(1) of the bill, be further amended by adding the following subsection after subsection 4(4.1):
"(4.2) If the minister refuses to approve all or part of a bylaw, the municipality shall refund the development charges paid under the bylaw or the part that is not approved, and must do so within 30 days after the municipality receives notice of the minister's decision."
Mr Bradley: Again, if you look at some of the key parts of the bill that we focused on, this is a key part of the bill. This is a part of the bill that if one were suspicious, one would suspect it were written by the developers --
Mr Baird: But you're not suspicious.
Mr Bradley: -- because it is clearly going to work against municipalities and against the existing people in municipalities and in favour of the developers. When we were in Hamilton, I asked the developers, the one group that came in, "Were you enthusiastic about this bill?" and they seemed to be very enthusiastic about the bill. One of the reasons they were enthusiastic was the provision which now allows the minister to rule on further development charges.
The purpose of development charges, we will recall, is so that new developments shall pay their fair share of the new facilities which are going to be required within a municipality. We always think of the roads, we always think of the sewer and water. We get into street lights, we get into schools, we get into parks, libraries, fire services and so on when we extend it. So development charges were put in place so that when development took place, it would not be the entire municipality, many of whose citizens had already paid for their own services and other services. Those people would not be required to pay for the new services.
These new powers to the minister under Bill 20, in my view, are not good powers for the minister to have and will work to the detriment of municipalities. Keep in mind that the province is cutting back its funding to municipalities and at the same time it says, "But of course, if you want to reflect your new costs in terms of development charges, this minister is going to keep a careful eye on you and prohibit you in some cases from doing so." That forces the municipality either to not provide some kind of service or, on the other hand, to raise municipal taxes. Of course, it's then the municipality that gets the flak, rather than the provincial government.
I think members of the committee should know that not only do we have the minister now interfering on behalf of developers, but this amendment would further penalize municipalities by forcing them to pay back lot levy funds which the minister feels were collected improperly. They would have collected the funds, probably spent the funds, and then the minister, probably at the behest of the developers -- because the developers will make representations to the minister -- will say, "That was an improperly imposed lot levy and you have to pay it back." So this is a further detriment to municipalities.
I wish municipal councillors across the province knew what was in this bill. I know some of them rub their hands at the fact they think they're getting some additional powers, but what they don't see are the other provisions in here. When they find that out, I think some of them may change their minds, at least those who aren't always acquiescing to every wish of developers.
Ms Churley: I support the comment from my Liberal colleague. I recognize and I think it's fair to say that when we were the government we realized that there were some problems with the Development Charges Act and that it's not necessarily a bad thing to take a look at it. I have no opposition to taking a look at the bill. What I'm strongly opposed to is the direction which this government is going, for the reasons that my colleague stated, particularly with the cuts to transfer payments to municipalities. Municipalities are going to be very hard pressed.
I don't quite understand why you would in this case arbitrarily reach in and tell municipalities how and when they should charge development fees. You seem to trust municipalities, for instance, in doing the right thing when it comes to environmental protection. Why not trust municipalities to determine what makes sense in their own locality for the development of their region? It just doesn't make sense except that, as my colleague said, you have listened very closely to the developers here. Of course the developers would like this change. Absolutely. Why wouldn't they? But I think it was wrong for the government to cave in to that.
The definition of "hard services" is very narrow. It relates to sewers and that kind of thing. Who's going to build the schools, the libraries, the community centres, the other aspects of development that are so very important to the people living there? Ultimately, somebody has to pay for that.
Now, you could argue, and I know that developers have argued, that it brings the cost of the new development up too much for homeowners. I agree that there have been some problems, and it has to be looked at, but obviously it's a mistake to think that municipalities are going to be able to afford to pick up those costs. At the end of the day, what we're going to have here is something that this government said is very undesirable, and that is higher municipal taxes, which is something that municipalities are having to struggle with right now because of the massive cuts in transfer payments. They will really have no choice but to raise taxes and ask for the general population to pick up the costs of these charges. I think it's a big mistake and not very well thought out.
Mr Bisson: I have a couple of questions before I actually make my comment, just to make sure I understand this properly. Does the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing now, outside of Bill 20, have the right to disapprove of a bylaw of a municipality? I think the answer is no, isn't it?
Mr Hardeman: The answer is no, yes.
Mr Bisson: Okay. So that means to say that if I was the municipality of the city of Timmins and I passed a bylaw that said I'm going to charge development charges on soft services in my community, I could legally do that as a community, and the minister can't rule otherwise.
Mr Hardeman: Yes.
Mr Bisson: Okay. Now, if I understand what you're doing here, it's that under this particular subsection you're saying the Minister of Municipal Affairs will now have the power to say a municipal bylaw is null and void.
Mr Hardeman: The municipal development charges bylaws were prepared when the Development Charges Act was implemented, prepared at great time and expense for municipalities, to justify the amount of the development charges for the municipal services required by that new development. A lot of those bylaws are running out at this time. The minister has come to the conclusion that a fundamental review of the Development Charges Act is required. It was felt to be inappropriate to have municipalities going to great expense to prepare a new development charge bylaw which in fact may or may not fit the criteria in a year's time.
It was also recognized that there was going to be a need for some municipalities, through extenuating circumstances, to increase their development charges in that interim period of time. This is to allow the minister to approve those types of increases while letting the municipal sector know that the Development Charges Act is being reviewed and they should not change their bylaws until that is complete. So they can implement a bylaw that would serve the needs of the Development Charges Act.
Mr Bisson: Let me try this again. If you were not to make this motion and (4.1) was to stand as is, the Minister of Municipal Affairs would have the right to approve or disapprove of a bylaw no matter what the issue was.
Mr Hardeman: No.
Mr Bisson: If I was to read -- bear with me -- section 4.1 prior to the amendment, you're saying, "The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing may approve or refuse to approve a bylaw in whole or in part, in his or her absolute discretion, and his or her decision is final." That means to say that it would be outside of even development charges bylaws.
Mr Hardeman: In clarification to the amendment, the amendment is on the timing of the development charges, not on the minister's right to approve or not to approve. Section 48 dealt with that.
Mr Bisson: Let me try to word it another way. Can the minister refuse a bylaw of a municipality other than a bylaw that deals with development charges with this clause? That's issue number one. Are you giving this power only strictly on bylaws that deal with development charges?
Mr Hardeman: With this clause?
Mr Bisson: Yes.
Mr Hardeman: With this clause, this relates only to the timing of the minister's power, not the power itself. The power itself was dealt with in the previous section.
Mr Bisson: But that's the point I'm trying to make here. I asked the question at the very beginning of this. Prior to Bill 20, did the Minister of Municipal Affairs have the right to say that a bylaw was null and void dealing with development charges?
Mr Hardeman: No.
Mr Bisson: Okay. He will now have that power?
Mr Hardeman: Yes.
Mr Bisson: Okay. Thank you. Now I get to the next part. There are two parts to this. Let's deal with the easier one first.
If, let's say, the city of Timmins passed a bylaw in 1992 dealing with development charges as they apply to soft services, could the minister under this clause repeal the bylaw of 1992?
Mr Hardeman: No.
Mr Bisson: What's the time frame -- from the enactment of this act?
Mr Hardeman: The minister has the power to approve bylaws in those bylaws where the municipality is proposing to raise the development charges. The other parts of the act authorize the extension of the existing development charges bylaws or the lowering of the development charges within their bylaws without minister's approval. The only minister's approval required is those cases where there are extenuating circumstances and the municipality deems it appropriate to have to raise the development charges. That would require the minister's approval.
Mr Bisson: But those bylaws that have already been passed, if I have a bylaw in my municipality dated 1992 that says we're going to charge development charges on soft services, will this clause give the minister the power to make that null and void?
Mr Hardeman: No.
Mr Bisson: So the question I ask is: This will then become the law, this will only apply on enactment of the law. So if the city of Timmins, after this law is enacted, wants to pass a bylaw on development charges they will have to get approval from the minister?
Mr Hardeman: If that bylaw on development charges raises the level of their present bylaw, it would require the approval of the minister. If they presently do not have a development charges bylaw, they could not implement one now without the minister's approval.
Mr Bisson: You realize that this really could lead to quite a political interference by the minister. This is really leaving the minister open to pressures by developers to --
Mr Bradley: Donate.
Mr Bisson: -- donate to the minister. I guess I've got no other way of putting it. This is really a political clause. If I'm a developer and I've got an in with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, I can have the minister do all kinds of wonderful things for me through this. This is really developer-driven, isn't it?
Mr Hardeman: My answer would be no.
Mr Bisson: It better be or else you won't be the parliamentary assistant.
Mr Hardeman: That's not the way I would interpret this section.
Mr Bisson: Would you agree there is a danger that the minister could be put in a position, if he or she chose to be put in that position, to be friendly to a developer and to rule a particular bylaw of a municipality out of order? Not out of order, but make it null and void? Could it happen?
Mr Hardeman: This section does not give the minister the authority to deal with the existing bylaws that are in place or any municipality that, for their own reasons, decides to lower it.
Mr Bisson: That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that if the city of Timmins was to pass a bylaw after this act is put into law that deals with development charges -- in other words, increases development charges on soft services -- the developer can go to the minister and have that whole thing overturned. It seems to me that the minister is being put in a position that he could be seen as the developers' minister. I think this is very political. I think this is dangerous.
Mr Bradley: Let me describe how it's a difficulty --
Mr Bisson: I'm trying to be polite here. That's the problem.
Mr Bradley: In the same vein, let me describe how it's a difficulty for the minister. It's almost a no-win situation for a minister. First of all, I think, for the municipalities, they're the losers in this, and the people who reside in the municipality who are already there, as opposed to the new people coming in.
It's very dangerous for a minister, because under our system, ministers may receive political donations. So that could influence a minister one way or another, and I'm not saying it in a detrimental way.
Mr Murdoch: Oh, now.
Mr Bradley: No, I'm saying in the opposite way. You have to listen carefully.
Mr Murdoch: I am listening carefully.
Mr Bradley: That may even in the opposite way influence a minister. In other words, a developer may ask, and may in the mind of the minister have a legitimate case in asking, that a charge be denied. However, that developer has either given a donation to the minister or to a member of the governing party or to the governing party, and the Globe and Mail searches the election finances commission and says, "Aha, this is the reason"; they draw this conclusion. So the minister, to be safe, if he has received or the government has received a substantial donation from the developer, might well turn down the request of the developer so it doesn't appear as though the minister is showing favouritism to that person. So it can happen. You see the position you place the minister in with this, because of our method of financial donations, and they are public, and developers are known to make donations.
So the problem the minister is faced with is -- I can certainly understand the minister faced with this situation -- does the minister want to read on the front page of the Globe and Mail that he prevented a municipality from raising -- let's say, Owen Sound, because of the member across. He says to Owen Sound, "We're going to agree with you, Owen Sound, and not with the developer," because the minister is thinking in his mind, "If I take the developer's side and they see that the developer's donated to me," or in this case, the Conservative Party, if they're in power, that's going to influence the minister's decision, perhaps. You'd be surprised how that would. I would certainly, if I were the minister, think very carefully about showing any favouritism, even if I thought the person were right, if there was a perception out there that the reason was money donated.
When you give the minister this kind of power, that's what happens out there. That's where the minister's on the hook. That's where the minister faces maybe unfair criticism, maybe fair criticism.
Again, for the municipality, I think the municipalities are the losers. I wish AMO would tell the municipalities, since they're busy applauding parts of this bill -- the officials of AMO, whose hands may be bruised from applause, should be telling the municipalities about this aspect of the bill.
Mr Murdoch: I don't think that'll happen, Jim.
Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Let me hear from the parliamentary assistant again, because I think if I were a Boy Scout or a Girl Guide I'd be disposed to believe in this Pollyanna world of how development pressures operate. But you know, if you've had any experience in the real world -- God, if you search the annals of the Ontario legislative history, when you go the library there's a stack of judicial inquiries and royal commissions into development politics, shall I say. So I think Mr Bradley does raise a concern for anybody who has a concern about what might happen here. But I also am struck by the fact that one of the fundamental principles in this policy, and the bill that springs from it, is more power to the people, and in a good, Jeffersonian way, more power to the city of Woodstock or the county of Oxford.
How is it that in this respect, the people of Oxford, whether they're a local school board or a local council, can't be trusted to make a reasonable judgement? And even where they make a less-than-perfect judgement, why shouldn't they be exposed to public pressure, at the local level, from developers and perspective homeowners or whomever that will have to pay the charges? I think we're all sensitive, on the basis of the testimony, to the problem here: that some people can't resist the temptation to pass along additional costs. But I just want to know, given what you've said about this policy: How again is it that the Oxford County Board of Education or the city of Woodstock just shouldn't be trusted here without the school-marmish oversight of the imperial authority at Queen's Park?
Mr Hardeman: I think throughout the bill and throughout the policies that we have put forward so far, the direction is for local autonomy because I and the government believe that we can trust the local municipalities. We have come to the conclusion during the review of the Development Charges Act that we should not have municipalities, under false pretences, be preparing new development charges bylaws that they implement and then find they would have to redo them when the Development Charges Act review was completed. We also recognize that there will be times, there will be circumstances in some municipalities where development charges will need to go up to accommodate the services that are needed for the development. Under those circumstances, the minister would grant an exemption to those municipalities to allow them to increase the development charges.
As you have stated, there are times when someone may take advantage of the situation. We are quite confident this section will not have to be used, but if someone was to implement development charges beyond the appropriate level, it will take a certain length of time for that development charge bylaw to come to the minister for review and approval. In that time, if they were erroneously collecting development charges, I think it's fair that those should be returned. And that's what this amendment does, is it provides the onus on a municipality that, under false pretences or under a drastic miscalculation, decided to charge fees that they were not entitled to charge. The bylaw would not be a legal bylaw of the municipality until it was approved by the minister. So if any municipality collected development charges under that bylaw, we think it's appropriate that they refund that development charge.
Mr Conway: Are you then saying -- and I may have missed something earlier or that's carried elsewhere in the bill -- but do I take it then from that response that this is entirely a transitional matter, that you and your minister on behalf of our provincial government have made it very clear to everyone that once the development charges review is completed and perhaps amendments are brought forward and the act is adjusted consistent with whatever that review produces, are you then telling everyone and would you tell the committee now that it would be the intention of the government to, at that point, surrender the kind of oversight provisions that are vested with the minister in this section?
Mr Hardeman: Yes. I think on every opportunity that the minister has had to speak to those that are affected by this policy it has been made abundantly clear. I'm not sure I can assure the committee that he has searched out every opportunity to speak on the subject, but on every opportunity where he did speak on the subject he made it quite clear to those involved that this was a transitional process to deal with the development charges while the Development Charges Act was being reviewed.
Mr Conway: So when the act is reviewed, it's the policy of the government that you will then surrender this oversight provision that this particular section of this act now gives you?
Mr Hardeman: Yes.
Mr Bisson: Did I understand you correctly? Let me take it the other way. Why not do this in the Development Charges Act when the Development Charges Act is amended? Could you not do it there?
Mr Hardeman: Again, we have to recognize that the Development Charges Act is not in the Legislature at the present time. It's being reviewed. It was the government's position that --
Mr Bisson: We understand the argument.
Mr Hardeman: -- this transition needed to be put in place for that review.
Mr Bisson: I understand what you're saying, this is transitional, but the specific question I'm asking is, could you not do this in the Development Charges Act if you chose to?
Mr Hardeman: In fact, it's just pointed out that it is an amendment to the Development Charges Act. We have opened the act to include this in it to put the transition --
Mr Bisson: That's right, yes. So it is in the Development Charges Act. The point I'm getting at is that it would be best dealt with when we deal with the Development Charges Act, because it seems to me what you're doing here is that you're giving the minister very broad powers to be able to interfere in the due process of a community when it comes to how it deals with development charges. If you have a philosophy that you want to adhere to in legislation, that should be part of the debate around DCA and not around this particular bill. I believe you're really opening up a can of worms here, that your minister can be quite frankly put in a hell of a lot of hot water over this issue. I don't understand the logic. You're saying the transition. When do you plan on bringing in the DCA?
Mr Hardeman: When the review is completed.
Mr Bisson: No, but next fall?
Mr Hardeman: Hopefully, yes.
Mr Bisson: Probably in the fall. Things aren't going to come to an end between now and next fall. Why the rush? Why do you have to do this now?
Mr Hardeman: As I mentioned earlier in my explanation, I think it's a great process and an expensive process for municipalities to develop a new development charge bylaw. We do not believe it's appropriate that they should be forced to do that if the development charges and the framework under which they're going to have to live with development charges changes dramatically in the review of the act. If we did not find a way to deal with the exceptional circumstances in the act to allow some bylaws to be increased without following the procedure of the present Development Charges Act, we would have no way of funding that infrastructure in a high-growth area.
Mr Bisson: I take it the government wants this to happen, but I'd only say this before we vote on it: Number one, I believe we should deal with this under the Development Charges Act. It's not an issue where you're going to have a raft of communities trying to pass bylaws dealing with this issue. They're probably very much in the minority, the cases that you have.
But I'd only say again that in the interim, until we get the changes made in the Development Charges Act, I can tell you we'll be watching very closely what happens here, because what you end up with, no matter what the minister decides when it comes to an application before him, depending on how the minister reacts with that, he can be in a conflict situation. The municipality passes a bylaw opposed to what you want in here, the minister says, "Well, I'm on the side with the developer," boy, oh boy, I don't think I need to draw any pictures for you. You can really end up in a heck of a lot of hot water over this. I would warn the government that this is not a good idea and you should hold this off until you do the Development Charges Act.
Mr Murdoch: Put it under advisement.
The Chair: Further discussion?
Mr Bisson: Well, Bill's got it under advisement.
The Chair: Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment carries.
Ms Churley: I voted against.
The Chair: Yes. Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 49, as amended, carry? All those in favour? Opposed? Section 49, as amended, carries.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 5(1) of the Development Charges Act, as set out in section 50 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(1) A development charge bylaw approved by the minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing takes effect as of the later of,
"(a) the date on which the bylaw was passed; and
"(b) such other date as may be specified in the bylaw."
This motion is necessary to ensure that municipalities are not prohibited from collecting development charges between the time they pass the bylaw and the date upon which the minister approves the bylaw.
The Chair: Any discussion?
Mr Bisson: I'm not going to belittle the other point, but I'd only say on this, on the one hand you're saying as a government you want to put the power in the hands of the municipalities that do planning and leave them to do their jobs, but one of the ways they can do that, quite frankly, is how they levy fees on development charges and you're taking that away from them. So you're doing quite the opposite of what you're trying to accomplish generally in the bill.
Mr Bradley: Again, by limiting their ability, unfettered, to collect development charges or increase development charges, you're going to have more ill-advised developments.
I want to use an example that I share with people, and it annoys people locally perhaps from time to time, but I look in the middle of Beamsville and they've got subdivisions in the middle of Beamsville, if you can believe it. Beamsville is a small town, rural area, and the people moving in, I would bet, by and large, have nothing to do with Beamsville. There's not a new factory that went into Beamsville. There's not a new institutional development in Beamsville. They're building the houses for people who work in Toronto, or perhaps Hamilton, but more likely Toronto and the greater Toronto area.
So the Lincoln County Board of Education has pressure from people in the subdivision adjacent to increase the size of the school. They wouldn't have that pressure to increase the size of Senator Gibson school if it weren't for the fact that Beamsville is building houses for people who work in Toronto. There is no benefit to the community, outside of the short-term benefit, of the building that takes place, and that is a benefit, but beyond that there's not a benefit to the municipality, and they can't even recover it in future developments through development charges if the minister interferes and says, "You can't have these development charges," or "You're charging too much," or "There's something wrong with the way you did it."
So the municipality, in this case the taxpayers of Lincoln county, which exists for the purpose of education only, Lincoln county has to pick up the tab or there's just no increase in the size of the building and it certainly does, based on the number of people around, justify an increase in the size. When the last government was in power, they were pressuring the local MPP, and then they called me out because I was an opposition person then, and I have to tour the school and look at it and say, "Yes, indeed, this is so and I will speak to the government as well." So what happens is there's no real benefit.
Now, Mr Conway made reference to a document I made reference to by Dr Joseph Kushner -- I don't know if he has it at hand -- who is an economist at Brock University, a professor of economics. Far from a raving Liberal is Dr Kushner, certainly a small-c conservative, and when I dare to mention his name in the record of the Ontario Legislature as a person from whom I would take economics advice, he would deny me thrice, because he's that conservative and would feel I might be more inclined to spend slightly more money than he thinks government should.
But his paper, which is a technical type of economics paper, clearly demonstrates the cost of residential development to a community, and all these local politicians -- not all of them, of course -- who say, "We have to grow and expand and bring in new assessment and my city isn't great unless it's getting bigger every year," you find out that they are not benefiting from it, that in fact in this case, the people who work in Toronto may benefit from it. Those people may benefit, but the existing people in that community do not benefit from being a bedroom community.
Now, how does this relate back to the matter at hand, you say? The parliamentary assistant was wondering how I'd relate it back. It gets back to the prohibition, or the potential prohibition, on the part of the minister of a development charge to be imposed by a municipality, and that is why I think this aspect of this bill is wrongheaded and caters to the development industry.
Mr Conway: I just want to follow up on that example that Mr Bradley used about Beamsville.
Mr Murdoch: Don't use it, use another one.
Mr Conway: I don't want to be repetitive here.
Mr Murdoch: I know. That's what you are.
Mr Conway: Well, you laugh. You laugh, but, you know, any one of you could be a minister some day soon, and what I want to know -- you see, I want some assurance from our pal Ernie that he's not exposing --
Mr Conway: Oh, I'm deadly serious. I'm deadly serious, because Bradley's example's a good example.
Listen, I want to be very fair to developers -- very fair. I'm not here to be anti-development. But this is all about who pays. Now, we all represent shareholders who have said: "We are up to here. We're not paying any more. We're paying a lot less." That's I think a consensus to which most of us now subscribe. Now, it's one thing to say it. We just have to be able to act on it.
You have a colleague. He's the Minister of Education. He ought to be here for this, because if I were that minister, I'd want to make bloody sure that you're not doing something here that's going to put me in the Beamsville squeeze, or in the Cumberland squeeze, southeastern Ottawa, because Bradley's absolutely right. Once you allow these developments, and if your basic policy is that we want a pay-as-you-go development, meaning you are going to strip out provincial subsidies to a substantial extent, I just want to have some confidence that you, as part of the collective provincial government -- for the moment I'm going to forget about the local government. As I said to you before, I haven't served on a local government, but I'd be awfully tempted, if I thought that you had, in this new environment, set me up for some costs, I think I'd be inclined to do one of two things: Say, "Here, Ernie, either you run this or I am opting out of some mandatory sanction of provincial policy X, Y or Z, because I'm not paying. I'm simply not going to go back to my taxpayers and say, `Well, you've got a big bill here.' It's a bill that is consequent upon some decisions taken a few months ago or a couple of years ago." As the local reeve or the local alderman, as the local mayor, I'd be really inclined in the new world order to say, "I'm not paying and I'm not playing."
Back to my main point. I don't know how well you know, for example, some of the other capital grants plans of your own government. Now, they may be changing, and that might be a useful thing. Just as you're going to change the Development Charges Act, you might very well -- it would be interesting, for example, since schools are often a flashpoint, and the example mentioned here in Beamsville speaks to that, it may very well be that you want to get up and announce on behalf of your government, "We have no capital dollars to commit to anything for five years," and just tell everybody that, including developers. "Just don't petition Frank Sheehan or Froese or any of these people, because, in all fairness, they have no money. There isn't any money in that account and won't be for a period of five to 10 years." We ought not to mislead people.
I'd just like some comment from you as to what kind of comfort you would be willing to provide your own colleagues in the provincial government that you're not setting them up, inadvertently or otherwise, for some bills of a significant kind that will be triggered by some of these initiatives that this bill contains, including the one that we're speaking to in this amendment.
Mr Hardeman: First of all, I want to say to Mr Conway that the education development charges are not affected by this legislation. They are in place as they were prior to Bill 20. It only affects the municipal part of the development charges.
I also want to point out that the amendment that we're presently speaking to is in fact the amendment to allow a development charge bylaw that's passed by a municipality to become effective the day it passes it. If at a subsequent date it is approved by the minister under the present Development Charges Act, the bylaw comes into effect the day of its passing. The municipality can then start charging development charges.
Under Bill 20, those development charge bylaws that require the development charges to be increased require ministerial approval, so they would not, unless approved in Bill 20, come into effect until the day of the approval of that bylaw by the minister. In effect, it would deprive a municipality of collecting development charges between the time that it passed the bylaw and the time that the minister approved it. This amendment is to deal with that time frame, that development charges will not be prohibited during the time that the bylaw is in transition between the municipality and the minister's office.
Mr Conway: I understand that. My point is that when you take this amendment, together with some of the others -- I'm speaking to the basic policy question here, and I have to take what you tell me as government policy. I just raise the concern, because I think we can pretty well anticipate the results of the development charges review. I don't think one would have to be Einstein to anticipate what's coming there. All I'm saying is that, as a member of the provincial Legislature, I do not want to be voting for appropriations that were part of developments that you're now asking me to subsidize, and particularly subsidize after the fact, either as a citizen or as a local municipality.
Mr Hardeman: I would just like to add that I would not presume to know the results of review of the Development Charges Act before it is completed. I'm not sure that I could guess that today. I would hope that the review will come out with a compromise that everyone would like.
The Chair: Any further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question.
All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? Amendment carries.
Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 50, as amended, carries? All in favour? Contrary? Section 50, as amended, carries.
Section 51: Any comments, suggestions or amendments?
Mr Bradley: I recommend that the members of the committee vote against section 51 of the bill.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Bradley. If there's no further discussion, I'll put the question. Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 51 carries? All in favour?
Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): What is the question?
The Chair: Section 51, are you in favour of it carrying?
The Chair: Well, she asked what the question was.
All those in favour that section 51 carries? Contrary?
Mr Bisson: I don't think Dr Galt voted.
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): No, I did earlier, at the first request.
The Chair: Section 51 carries. Section 52.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 52(1) of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection to section 7 of the Development Charges Act:
"(1.3) An amendment approved by the minister takes effect as of the later of,
"(a) the date on which the amendment was passed; and
"(b) such other date as may be specified in the amendment."
The Chair: Seeing no discussion, all those in favour of the amendment? Mr Smith, all those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? Amendment carries.
Any further discussion on section 52?
Mr Bradley: Again, I recommend we vote against it.
The Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 52, as amended, carries? All those in favour? Contrary? Section 52, as amended, carries.
Section 53: Any further discussion? All those in favour of section 53 carrying? Contrary? Section 53 carries.
Section 54: Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 54 carries? All in favour? Contrary? Section 54 carries.
Section 55: Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 55 carries? All in favour? Contrary? Section 55 carries.
Mr Bradley: I think the Chair is prompting Conservative members to vote.
The Chair: No, I am informed by the clerk that there is not the option of not voting in committee.
Mr Bradley: I think I heard about that once, yes; not voting, that option.
The Chair: Section 56.
Ms Churley: Same vote.
Mr Hardeman: Mr Chairman, not to go around and presume how people are going to vote, I don't know about the other members of the committee, but this government member is going to vote against this section.
Mr Bisson: You're actually going to vote against 56?
Mr Hardeman: Section 56. Mr Chairman, if I might, the amendment in fact removes a section that should be removed because of the changes in the minor variance process. We apologize. The government did not catch that one as they were going through the bill in the change for the minor variance. We commend the Liberal Party for bringing that to our attention and we will support your amendment to strike that section.
Mr Bisson: Just for the record, it's not an amendment. We were only recommending that you vote against.
Mr Hardeman: And we will take that recommendation.
The Chair: Any further discussion? Is it the favour of the committee that section 56 carries? All in favour?
The Chair: If we're free of distractions, all those in favour of this section? Contrary? The section is defeated.
Mr Hardeman: I move that section 57 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
"57. If a person or organization appeals a development charge bylaw passed on or before November 15, 1995, or an amendment passed on or before that date to such a bylaw, the appeal shall be determined in accordance with the law and the procedures of the municipal board as they existed on November 15, 1995. Subsections 4(3) to (12) and section 5 of the Development Charges Act, as they existed on November 15, 1995, continue to apply with respect to the matter being appealed and the decision of the municipal board."
Mr Chairman, it is appropriate for all the appeal rights regarding development charges passed prior to November 16 to come under the authority of the Development Charges Act legislation and not the authority of Bill 20. I believe they were passed at that time and appeals should proceed under the law of the day.
Mr Bradley: If I were, again -- and I'm not -- as suspicious perhaps as the member for Etobicoke West of matters that governments are involved in from time to time, I would wonder why -- even though there's been an explanation, I would find it at least passing interesting -- is that how you say that? -- of passing interest that in fact in the case of the illegal apartments, as they were called, apartments in houses, the effective date is when the bill is proclaimed; however, when it comes to the development charges and the developers who are involved in them, it's then November 15, 1995. So it's a different set of rules for those people than it was for the other people.
I would have thought that, to be consistent in the bill, though I've heard the parliamentary assistant make his recommendation and allow his explanation, you would have retained the same thing. In other words, you would not have treated it differently. However, I understand what you've said. I appreciate the explanation that you have given. You've moved the grandparenting -- I'm told I'm supposed to say "grandparenting" --
Ms Churley: Yes, thank you.
Mr Bradley: -- provisions for basement apartments from November 15, but you've retained November 15 for lot levy charges. I would have thought consistency, at least, if there's any virtue in consistency, would have seen the dates similar for both; that is, the date of the proclamation of the bill.
There are going to be people out there, certainly not I, who would say that this was dictated by the development industry. I wouldn't want to believe that. I would want to believe the parliamentary assistant and his explanation, but I know there will be many people phoning my office tomorrow morning to ask me about this.
The Chair: Any further discussion?
Mr Bisson: Just on the same issue, it seems to me that if a municipality is passing a bylaw having to do with development charges, it does it as per the current law at the time that it's passing the bylaw. To ask that this be treated differently from anything else in this act I think is highly unfair to the municipalities, especially when you say the whole intent of this legislation is to streamline planning and to give power to the municipalities to let them deal with the questions of planning. You're not only taking a grab for power at this point on development charges, to the minister's benefit, but you're also saying it ain't going to be at the time of enactment; it's going to be way back when to November 15, 1995.
The last thing I would say is, my good friend from Etobicoke is here --
Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Like Bill 4, rent control.
Mr Bisson: No. That's exactly what I was going to get at. I remember when our government back in 1991 passed the rent control legislation and we grandfathered -- it wouldn't even be grandfathered. We retroactively put in place the limit on rents back, I think, six to eight months. The Conservative Party of the day argued, I remember, on that committee --
Ms Churley: -- went wild.
Mr Bisson: Went wild, and Chris Stockwell was a member. I remember at the time, and I think they made the point --
Mr Stockwell: Did you change your mind?
Mr Bisson: I'm just saying maybe we should have. The point I'm trying to get at --
Mr Stockwell: Oh, maybe, yes. Like my aunt; if she had different parts to her, she'd be my uncle.
Mr Bisson: I love you, Chris. The point that I'm trying to make is simply this: The Conservative Party of 1991 was opposed to the whole notion of doing anything in a retroactive manner. I sat on committee and I listened to the member for Etobicoke West, I listened to the now Finance minister and others in the House. I remember the Leader of the Opposition, the now Premier, standing up in the House and saying, "We are opposed to retroactivity and if we were the government we would not do that." Here you are, you're retroactively giving the power to the minister back to November 15, 1995. For the record, that is certainly in stark contrast to what you said in opposition. But that was then, this is now. Right?
Mr Hardeman: To make sure we all understand the amendment that we're speaking to, this applies to a development charge bylaw that was passed prior to this certain date. This amendment will provide the opportunity for those people who objected to that bylaw to be judged, based on the law that prevailed at the time the development charge bylaw was implemented and that was the law in force on that day. It will not be judged based on the amendments we make in Bill 20. This is to provide the -- what shall we say? -- grandparenting clause for the objectors to the development charge bylaw that was passed prior to November 15.
The Chair: Is there any further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment carries.
Ms Churley: Point of order, Mr Chairman: We have a visitor. Does he have to vote? Is he not considered --
The Chair: No. He's not allowed to vote.
Ms Churley: Can he speak?
Mr Bradley: As Rod Lewis would say, there's a stranger in the house.
The Chair: Any member can speak when in committee, he just can't vote.
Mr Carr: He just came off the picket line.
Mr Stockwell: My arm's tired.
The Chair: Are there any further comments or amendments to section 57? Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 57, as amended, carry? All in favour? Contrary? Section 57, as amended, carried.
Section 58: Comments, suggestions or amendments?
Mr Hardeman: Mr Chairman, if I might, since the opposition parties have both gone through this, I would at this point recommend the government members vote against this section.
Mr Bisson: You almost missed it, you know that. I wasn't saying a word.
The Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 58 carry? All those in favour? All those opposed? Section 58 fails.
Any comments, discussion or amendments on sections 59 through 70? Seeing none, I'll put the question. Is it the pleasure of the committee that sections 59 through 70 carry? All in favour? Contrary? Sections 59 through 70 carry.
Mr Hardeman: Again I would recommend that the government would vote against this section. Recognizing that the government voted against sections 25 and 26 for the new minor variance provisions, this section is no longer required in the bill.
The Chair: Further discussion?
Mr Bisson: I would only say it seems to me this government is starting to take the form of an opposition party.
Ms Churley: Oh, I wish, I wish.
The Chair: Further discussion? Seeing none, is it the pleasure of the committee that section 71 carry? All in favour? Contrary? Section 71 is defeated.
Section 72. Comments?
Mr Hardeman: This section also applies to the same criteria as section 71 as it related to sections 25 and 26, and I would recommend that the government vote against this section.
The Chair: Further discussion? Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 72 carry? All in favour? Contrary? Section 72 is defeated.
Mr Hardeman: I move that the bill be amended by adding the following section:
"Regional Municipality of Waterloo Act
"72.1 Section 2 of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo Act is amended by adding the following subsections:
"(2) The boundary between the city of Cambridge and the township of North Dumfries between,
"(a) the point on the centre line of the road allowance between concessions 9 and 10 (unopened) which is described on reference plan 67R-3098 registered in the land registry office for the registry division of Waterloo South as the southeasterly corner of part 4; and
"(b) the point that is the northeasterly limit of the King's Highway No. 8 as that highway is shown on deposited plan 807 deposited in the land registry office for the registry division of Waterloo South,
"is the line that begins at the centre line of the road allowance between concessions 9 and 10 (unopened) and ends at the northeasterly limit of the King's Highway No 8 as that highway is shown on deposited plan 807 deposited in the land registry office for the registry division of Waterloo South, as shown on plan 67G-984 and plan 67G-983, which plans are registered in the land registry office for the registry division of Waterloo South, and the continuation of the curve on plan 67G-983 across the King's Highway No 8, the curve having a radius of 1002.106 metres.
"(3) Subsection (2) shall be deemed to have come into force on January 1, 1973."
The Chair: Mr Hardeman, that motion is out of order.
Mr Hardeman: Mr Chairman, I would ask for unanimous consent to introduce the motion.
Mr Bradley: Be like the Lieutenant Governor. Just nod.
The Chair: Any further discussion?
Mr Bradley: Yes, the discussion is this. First of all, I want to point out for the government members who are here that this is an example of the opposition being cooperative with the government. I know you think we're always obstinate.
Mr Murdoch: Never obstinate.
Mr Stockwell: Just most of the time.
Mr Bradley: For instance, had this request been made the day after members of the procedural affairs committee had made a certain motion to further harass members of the opposition, it would have been difficult to agree with this, but the parliamentary assistant has been so very cooperative today. Outside of one clash we've had here today, there's been a relatively quiet day, and we are delighted to be able to accommodate what is a reasonable request.
Speaking on the motion itself, however, one of the things I asked was, does this affect farm land, because I am one who believes that we should be retaining as much of the excellent farm land that we have in Ontario for two reasons: one, soil quality, and two, climatic conditions. I have voted over the years to retain as much farm land in Etobicoke West as possible.
But I should point out for members of the committee that the reason I would acquiesce to this is the following: The farm land has already been zoned for subdivisions. That may or may not be something I agree with, but it has been zoned for that purpose and I am not about to go back, having zoned it for that purpose, to say now that it should not be. Second, by ensuring that these lands are part of Cambridge and not of the township, it is likely that there would be more opportunity to confine development to the city and not have that development creeping out into the township. So I think there is some virtue to that happening. This amendment, as I understand it and as you have explained it, clarifies the southern boundary of Cambridge to ensure that a proposed road and the approved subdivisions are part of Cambridge.
I should also note another reason I think it's reasonable to agree with this motion is that Waterloo region, as independent observers have indicated, has a pretty good record for the protection of prime agricultural land. I think with that in mind, with the planning department there with that reputation and the council, we are prepared to agree to this particular motion and are quite willing to cooperate by having it included as part of this bill.
Ms Churley: I would like to thank Uncle Jim for doing such good homework for us all on this amendment, because it was just presented to us today and we didn't really have much of an opportunity to delve into the background. I'm going to take it on good faith and trust that Jim's staff did good research here.
Mr Stockwell: She might trust your staff.
Ms Churley: Yes, I'm going to trust the staff really: that they did good research here and that there's not something that we don't know lacking from this research and we end up voting for something that we will regret. Could I ask the parliamentary assistant, there are no tricks here, are there? I mean, Mr Bradley is correct, is he?
Mr Stockwell: Talk about a penetrating question.
Ms Churley: Might as well get it on the table.
Mr Stockwell: No tricks here.
Mr Hardeman: I find it somewhat disturbing that I would have to answer such a question so often in one day. No, there is absolutely nothing in this amendment put forward that changes anything as it's on the ground today. As Mr Bradley mentioned, the land that is being referred to is in fact already zoned for the subdivision. A major portion of it is already built on. The problem arose that there was a border that was inadvertently put in the wrong place in 1973 and the --
Ms Churley: In 1973? Who was in government then?
Mr Hardeman: In 1973, when the Regional Municipality of Waterloo Act was put through, it was inadvertently put in the wrong place. That's why it requires retroactivity, because of the fact that the houses are already there and the development has already taken place. We want to thank the opposition parties for unanimous consent to allow us to put this in the bill and clear up this long-standing problem in the region of Waterloo.
The Chair: Further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. Is it the favour of this committee that this amendment pass? All in favour? Contrary? The amendment carries.
Mr Hardeman: I would recommend again that the government vote against section 73. Again it comes for the same reason, because of the changes we made this morning in sections 25 and 26.
The Chair: Further discussion? Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 73 carries? All those in favour? Contrary? Section 73 fails.
Mr Bradley: Do I have an amendment? I do have.
I move that subsection 74(1) of the bill be amended by striking out "on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor" and substituting "on the day all new policy statements under section 3 are signed by the Lieutenant Governor."
Let me explain why I move this motion. This is an extremely important motion that has really arisen out of many of the submissions which were made to the committee and also a personal view that it is dangerous to pass a bill of this kind until such time as we have seen the policy statements of the government. In fact there are many people who would, perhaps with some justification, contend that the policy statements may even be more important than the bill itself.
Certainly the earlier argument that took place between the opposition and government members over "have regard to" or "be consistent with," those two general wordings, to a certain extent was based on its own merits, but also, if you have in the bill "have regard to," it would be nice to have very specific policy statements. From many of the people I asked about this, whether in committee or otherwise, "Would you prefer to see all of the policy statements completed in their final form before this legislation comes before the House?" the answer would be yes.
I recognize it's unlikely the government is going to do that, so I am suggesting, as the amendment suggests, "on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor" was what it was going to be, and substituting, "on the day all new policy statements under section 3 are signed by the Lieutenant Governor." In other words, the Lieutenant Governor is involved in it, but it's when he signs the policy statements, not necessarily when the bill passes.
I think the policy statements are going to have significant ramifications for Ontario. The early indications of the contents of those statements tell me that the government wishes to weaken the environmental regulations. When I read various pieces of literature -- I read a headline the other day from a newspaper, I think in Wellandport, where one of the government members said that the Niagara Escarpment Commission was as good as gone, or something like that. I wish I had it in front of me --
Ms Churley: Who said that?
Mr Bradley: -- but one of the government members said that, a colleague of the member for Grey-Owen Sound, who has never been a fan of the escarpment commission and expressed some similar --
Mr Murdoch: I didn't say that.
Mr Bradley: No, he did not say that. He was reported in the Owen Sound Sun Times rather as saying that the minister told him he would like what she was going to do with the Niagara Escarpment Commission.
Mr Murdoch: That's right.
Mr Bradley: But another member who is in charge of deregulating Ontario made a statement that the Niagara Escarpment Commission was as good as gone or would disappear, some words of that nature.
Mr Murdoch: Music to my ears.
Mr Bradley: Not Dr Galt; I will say it's not Dr Galt.
I really believe that you can test the government's commitment to environmental protection based upon the contents of those statements, and as I've indicated, the early indications are that there is nothing but a weakening of those statements as a choice. I like to see those. I've called for those for many years. Many people of all political stripes have lamented in my own area the loss of prime agricultural land in an area which has both good soils and very favourable climatic conditions. The combination is what is most important there.
Mr Murdoch: You have to be able to make money, though.
Mr Bradley: I agree with the member. The member interjects appropriately that farmers have to be able to make money on it, and I think we all have an obligation to assist them with whatever policies we can to make money in the business of farming. I have always been supportive of that in any way I could be. I don't believe in our area of the province, for instance -- I won't get into an argument over other areas -- that economic severances provide a long-term answer to the farmers, and really represent death by a thousand cuts for farm land in Niagara region.
When I first came to Toronto as a member of the Legislature eighteen and a half years ago, the amount of farm land in existence then was far greater than now, and now we see Stoney Creek and Grimsby subdivisions -- once again not for people working in Grimsby but for people working in Toronto so they become bedroom communities -- and all these less than attractive warehouses along the Queen Elizabeth highway where beautiful farm land and farms used to exist.
I think this is a very important motion and I would have hoped the government members would support this motion. They will have their marching orders from the whip, as all government members do in all governments.
Mr Murdoch: Not from the whip. From somebody else.
Mr Bradley: Well, from whomever. From the Premier's office, ultimately; the Premier's office makes this decision. You'll be told how to vote on this and you'll be told to vote against it, which is most unfortunate, because I think some members of the committee, in their heart of hearts, as the former Premier used to say, would probably believe this is a reasonable motion.
I think the only way, in the long term, to meet our environmental challenges is to have strong policy statements. I for one, before I vote finally on this bill, would have liked to see those policy statements in their final form, because I can't believe the government would be unwise enough to approve them in their draft form, as weak as they are at this time.
It is a very fair motion, I think, that I'm putting forward. I hope to see the nod of acquiescence from the parliamentary assistant, though I think the only nod I would see is if he were nodding off at this time, I'm afraid. But where there is life, there is hope, and I now leave it in the hands of the governing authorities of this province.
Mr Bisson: I'm coming at it from a bit of a different perspective. Anybody who presented to this committee on the issue of going to "have regard to" from "be consistent with," whether they were in favour or opposed, all said the same thing: You have to have clear policy. The people who came in and said they supported the government on moving towards "have regard to" said it is important that the government have clear policy so we know what we need to do to be in compliance with those policies.
I would argue that the Liberal motion would put pressure on the government to make sure they finish the work on the provincial policies. It would give them an incentive to make sure they finish the consultation so that the draft policies we have now are finished, and when the act comes into play you actually have an act as Bill 20 that is in compliance with the new draft policies.
The problem you're going to be into right now is that you will be working with an act that is having regard to policies enacted under Bill 163 that the government says are too onerous. What am I to think as a developer? Am I going to be working with the old policy? Will I be working with your draft policy? Do I work towards what I think might be your policy? You're really leaving the whole question of what policy to work with quite ambiguous. I think it would make a lot of sense for the government to support this motion, because it would keep you consistent with what you're trying to do.
The other argument I would put forward is that in the title of the bill, the government is very clear. They say the act is to promote economic growth and to protect the environment. Well, if you're serious about protecting the environment, why is it that you didn't entrench that in a purpose clause? You didn't, so the New Democratic Party brought forward an amendment that said we wanted a section in the bill that entrenched the title of the bill so that when you're making decisions, you have to take the environment and economic matters as being equal. You rejected that, so we're led to believe you're not very serious about environmental issues as they take precedence over economic issues. In the very least, if you support this motion, you will be sending some message to people out in the environmental community and to people who care about that issue that you're prepared to do a very minimum when it comes to clarifying what should and what shouldn't happen in terms of planning when it comes to environmental issues.
It brings us back to this whole notion of having a Planning Act that really has policies with no teeth. I'm not going to go into that debate again. I think it's sufficient to say that we oppose that. We would rather you stay consistent. I ask the members to reconsider. This motion is not opposite to what you're trying to do in the bill; in fact, I think it would strengthen your bill and would make it look at least as if you're making a serious attempt to clarify things for developers and planners in this province.
Ms Churley: I come at this from a slightly different direction too from both my Liberal and my NDP colleague. I support the resolution, but I don't think it's as significant as either of my colleagues say. What I would have preferred to have seen, as I've stated before, is that if you didn't like the policy statement under Bill 163 -- leaving aside the guidelines, which I know people mix up with the policy statement. We haven't had a chance to find out how those policy statements would be applied and whether they would work, and we figured there would have to be some changes, but if you didn't like them, the sensible thing would have been to work on the policy statement, try to reach a broad consensus, do proper consultation with people on all sides of the issue and then determine that it would make sense to support the "be consistent with" policy as opposed to have regard for." My view is this bill does not have any teeth when it comes to the environment anyway, because I feel very strongly that no matter what the policy statement says -- it can have fabulous environmental protection policy within it -- if nobody has to pay attention to that, that you just have to "have regard to" it and then throw it aside and say, "We looked at it," then it doesn't really have teeth.
I know Mr Bradley, my Liberal colleague, doesn't agree with that. We've had a disagreement.
Mr Bradley: Oh, I agree with that.
Ms Churley: You do agree with that? Oh, it was Mr Conway, that's right. Let me clarify that, because this is on the record. Mr Bradley did support that.
Mr Bradley: I voted for "be consistent with."
Ms Churley: Yes. I believe, however, that Mr Bradley has a little more faith in this government, that if they come up with a strong policy statement it will actually make a difference in the determination of development and sound environmental policies. I don't believe that's going to happen. I'll vote for this, but (a) it's not going to pass and (b), even if it does, I really don't think it's going to solve our problem.
I want to come back to a letter written on January 31, 1996, by Kathleen Cooper from the Canadian Environmental Law Association. If you recall, Mr Chair, you weren't here at that time but the Vice-Chair was in the chair. We got into a bit of a shemozzle over what consultations were done, with whom and when; I know some clarifications were made after. Since then, she wrote a letter, copied to Ms Elliott. She sent it to us, and I want to read something she said. She declines the invitation to be involved with the -- let me see, what is it you call the committee that's been put together by Dr Galt to consult on the policy framework? That's what this is in response to.
She says: "As you are aware, CELA has participated in the process of redesigning an improved land use process over the past four years. We have produced many written proposals, worked with hundreds of people and spent thousands of hours in consultations across the province. During this process, many tradeoffs and compromises were made...on both sides. However, having participated in good faith through that long process in an attempt to defend the public interest in environmental protection, we are dismayed at your government's virtual gutting of the Planning Act reforms.
"The draft policy statement similarly represents sweeping roll-backs, preventing a modern approach to planning. Given the evident direction of your government and the extensive materials already provided to the government of Ontario regarding CELA's views on this subject, we do not believe further verbal consultations will be fruitful at this time."
The second page is missing here, but she goes on to say that CELA will participate in written form.
I think that sums it up. What clearly is a problem here is that it's after the fact. You are now consulting with people who were barely consulted, whose views are not represented in this bill. No amendments were accepted today that encompass the environmental concerns. I don't blame Ms Cooper and others for feeling that this policy statement is really not going to be that significant, although I would like to see it improved. I agree that the draft policy statement is not sufficient and is a significant roll-back in environmental protection, and I hope you will look at CELA's written material and take into consideration the views of the environmentalists and make sure it is reflected in the policy statement.
But as I said, I have great fears that no matter how wonderful it looks, it will be so easily disregarded, that if you do come out with an improved environmental protection policy statement that you might be able to hold up and say, "We believe in the environment; look at how good our policy statement is," you'll then proceed to ignore it. I fear that's what is going to happen with this, but I'll support the motion anyway.
Mr Hardeman: I, as a member of the government side, will not be supporting this motion. We think it inappropriate to tie the proclamation day to a different day than the signing, recognizing that all sorts of unforeseen things can happen to processes and policy statements, recognizing that we do have the policy statements in circulation now for public consultation and we have every confidence that will be concluded at the time the bill would receive proclamation.
Having said that, if that should not happen, the present policy statements would be in effect and would govern the planning process as it relates to Bill 20. The policy statements would be the provincial policy statements until they're changed by regulation, so we do not see the need for that change at this time. We think the motion is somewhat ill-conceived.
Mr Bisson: "Ill-conceived" is a bit strong. That you don't agree with it I think would be better.
Mr Hardeman: Yes, I don't agree with the motion.
Mr Bisson: That's better.
The Chair: Further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? I deem the amendment to fail.
Mr Hardeman: I move that subsection 74(3) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
"(3) Sections 47, 53 to 56 and 60 to 70 come into force on the day this act receives royal assent."
This is an amendment to deal with the Development Charges Act, to make sure they all come into force on the same day.
The Chair: Any further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour of the amendment? Contrary? The amendment carries.
I will now put the question on section 74, as amended. Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 74, as amended, carry? All in favour? All those opposed? Section 74, as amended, carries.
Section 75, Ms Churley.
Ms Churley: Is this the last motion of the day?
The Chair: It is the last motion.
Ms Churley: I move that section 75 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
"75 The short title of this act is the Promotion of Urban Sprawl Act."
You may think this is a bit mischievous, but one could even add to it: the Promotion of Urban Sprawl and Environmental Destruction Act. If somebody wants to make a friendly amendment, I would be happy to accept that.
I'm going to start by talking about the lack of consultation throughout the development of this draft bill, which we know will soon be passed. It became very clear during the process of the public hearings that the people who were listened to and the people who got the changes and practically everything they desired were developers and I guess you could say pro-development municipalities, and everybody else got left out. We heard that time and time again. In fact, I asked specific questions, and it's in the record, to some select developers: "Were you consulted? Are you satisfied with the bill? Were your concerns and desires expressed in the bill?" and everybody I asked on that side said yes. When I asked other people, environmentalists and community groups, both in the environmental areas and the housing areas, they all said no.
This is not a balanced bill. It's very unfair in terms of the consultation. We spent four years in various forums consulting with all the people all over Ontario. Nobody was totally happy on either side. There were compromises made on both sides. Sure, some people weren't happy. That became very clear. A lot of developers weren't happy -- not all; there were some in support. The environmentalists made some concessions as well. They were bitterly opposed to some of the changes we made to try to strike a balance, but at the end of the day felt they could live with them and felt that at least they had been consulted with and listened to. I'm very disappointed that you weren't able to incorporate at least some of the issues brought forward by environmentalists. People who have great expertise and have been working in this area for a long time were left out.
During our public hearings, Mr Murdoch said when the Ontario naturalists were here -- and he may recall that they gave an excellent brief. They discussed their disappointment at the destruction of the environment part of the bill and made some recommendations. I can't remember the context, but I said something and Mr Murdoch said that during clause-by-clause their brief would be well-used and considered. Remember saying that?
I have this document in front of me, and if we go through it, we see that only one of their concerns -- and I didn't hear Mr Murdoch refer to this document in the whole two days of clause-by-clause. In fact, I didn't hear Mr Murdoch say much of anything, to my surprise. All I can conclude is that he's very happy with the bill, and that in itself makes me very nervous.
I have here in front of me today -- I wanted to be reminded a little of Mr Murdoch's past and his involvement with severances in Grey county.
Mr Murdoch: You're going to get it all on the record.
Ms Churley: I have a little bit of history in my hands dating back to when Mr Bradley was the Liberal Environment minister.
Mr Bradley: So popular in Grey county, as I recall.
Ms Churley: You were so popular in Grey county. As I was reminded today, he had asked for the Ontario Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee -- is that what it's called?
Mr Bradley: Yes. A wonderful group, now disbanded by this government.
Ms Churley: Exactly, now disbanded by this government, and I wonder if Mr Murdoch had a say in that. He had asked that they look into the situation in Grey county and in particular to look at what was happening in the Sydenham Mills investment group, which we know very well was a disaster. The taxpayers ended up spending tons of money, probably millions of dollars, reacting to very bad planning which Mr Murdoch had a big hand in, although I understand he had to declare a conflict and remove himself from that situation.
Mr Murdoch: I did not.
Ms Churley: If he didn't declare a conflict, I know he must have withdrawn from his financial interest, because one way or another he had to step aside from that. It's all documented here. It's very clear, from going through the records, that Mr Murdoch in Grey county was very involved in severances and breaking up farm land to create more and more development. I fear that Mr Murdoch's dreams have practically come true in this bill, which makes me extremely leery of the bill.
When we formed the government in 1990, shortly after that Minister Grier, Minister of the Environment at the time, and Minister Cooke, Minister of Municipal Affairs, were forced -- I believe they took a plane into the Grey county area to take a look. They were receiving so many complaints from the community about what was going on that they had to go in there and take a look and declared a provincial interest and forced that municipality for the first time to actually come up with an official plan.
Mr Murdoch: You're not right, Marilyn. You're putting it on the record and you're not right.
Ms Churley: Do they not have an official plan yet?
Mr Murdoch: They had one before that.
Ms Churley: Well, they were forced to redo that official plan. Now, I fear, with this bill we are going to go back to the same kind of devastatingly bad planning that happened in that area before, especially since they just have to "have regard to" provincial policy which we haven't even seen yet.
Now I want to come to the role of the Ministry of the Environment in this whole debate. My colleagues and I asked, for several days during the public hearings, if we could have the Minister of Environment and Energy and the Minister of Natural Resources in here to answer questions and respond to some of the issues we were raising. We were repeatedly voted down by the government members. Dr Galt, who is still here, said that he could and would be representing -- I believe that's how he put it -- the Minister of Environment, so she did not need to be here. I haven't heard a word from Dr Galt all day, or yesterday.
Our side, both the Liberals and the NDP, have repeatedly brought up problems with the environmental contents or lack thereof in this bill. We haven't heard a peep out of the parliamentary assistant to try to justify or explain; or sometimes, I would expect, given his role and his position, he would have to vote with the opposition in some of these cases. How can he sit there and vote with the government time and time again on amendments and on a bill that is actually going to be very destructive for the environment?
I will end by saying that I think this whole bill should be thrown out. You should start all over again. I know you're not going to do that, because you've listened to your developer friends. They've gotten practically everything they asked for. They're very happy with this bill. Some asked for a little more.
But I can assure you that there is going to be more urban sprawl. Thus my proposed title. Let's call it what it really is here. Let's not pretend, as you have in the title, that this has anything to do with environmental protection. That's such a sham, and people are soon going to realize that. I think we should at least be upfront with the title. You wouldn't accept our amendment earlier on to strengthen the environmental aspects of the bill. There are all kinds of clauses in here that will very definitely contribute to urban sprawl, which we well know will cost more to the taxpayer and is bad for the environment. It might make some quick bucks for a few developers, but down the road our children and our grandchildren and beyond that are going to be paying for the terrible mistakes we make today, all for the sake of some people making --
Ms Churley: I see Dr Galt is now muttering something over there. I hope he was contributing something positive to the debate over here. I believe he said something about fixing the mistakes the last government made. I hope I'm wrong, because I would expect that the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of the Environment would at least have some concerns about --
Mr Bradley: Is there still a Ministry of the Environment?
Ms Churley: There's still a little bit of the ministry over there, although nobody can find the minister herself these days; nobody knows where she is.
This bill guts all the environmental protection. I know the members don't take it seriously, and that upsets me.
Mrs Fisher: You don't know that. You think you know that.
Ms Churley: Well, I'm sitting here watching people laugh as I make these statements. Some of those members are in denial, including Ms Fisher, absolute denial about the realities of the environmental degradation that's going to happen as a result of this bill. Time and time again during the hearings she would say, oh so innocently: "This bill has all kinds of environmental protections in it. We haven't taken a thing out." If you look at the bill, that's not correct, and if she hasn't figured that out by now, there's something wrong.
Mr Chair, I'm really disappointed that we've been reduced to this state in the province of Ontario, this, coupled with a lot of the other environmental protection deregulation that's going on, for instance, the deep cuts to the conservation authorities and the fact that they can now sell off land; the firing of staff at both the Ministry of Environment and Energy and Natural Resources. The many, many aspects of deregulation that's happening throughout the government are going to cause tremendous harm to the environment.
I will conclude by saying, and mark my words on this, the public cares about environmental protection. Poll after poll shows that. Right now, you don't see it high on the list of things that people are most concerned about. There's this general assumption now that the government is protecting their environment and their health. Even with the Conservatives before you and then with the Liberals and with our government, there was progressively, in some cases slower than others, new and better environmental protection, and that came from the ground up, the environmentalists and the community pushing government, pushing government hard to create better environmental laws.
The over 20, 30 years of environmental protection that's been built up in this province is being wiped out right under our noses. Most of the public aren't aware of what's happening here, but I can guarantee you that when they do find out, there's going to be a price to be paid and you will pay it. You will see that over the term of your government people, as they find out what's happening to environmental protection, will respond swiftly and loudly.
I know that I'm not going to change anybody's mind here today, but I want to say how very disappointed I am that you went ahead and completely gutted environmental protection in this bill.
I see my colleague Mr Bradley looking at the clock here to hopefully time his remarks.
Mr Bradley: Thank you very much for the opportunity to offer some observations, at the conclusion of this bill, on the motion moved by Ms Churley that the short title of this act be referred to as the Promotion of Urban Sprawl Act. There's no question that the bill could have many different names. The last name I would call it would be the name which has been given to the bill, which is "An Act to promote economic growth and protect the environment by streamlining the land use planning and development system through amendments related to planning, development, municipal and heritage matters." I would agree that it is designed to promote economic growth, at least in the short term, so that part of the title I would agree with. I think the better title selection would be the one the member for Riverdale has suggested. They will, no doubt, be tipping the champagne glasses back in the Albany Club, when this bill finally passes, where the developers gather to cheer on those who have done their bidding in the government.
It's most unfortunate that within the government caucus, where I know there must be some dissenting views, those views have not been loud enough or powerful enough to see this bill amended in some ways that I think would be beneficial to the province. I note, not in a personal way but in a lamenting way, the fact that the member for Middlesex, who knows much better than I about planning matters -- is a professional planner, is appropriately educated for that and has the detailed experience -- has not had an opportunity to participate in this debate, though I would have benefited immensely from his interventions, particularly in those matters which are technical, perhaps not always the matters that are philosophical, but in many of the practical matters. I lament the fact that through this process, the government has chosen only on a few occasions to make changes to the bill which I believe would be of benefit.
The consultation process is always a controversial one. There are going to be those who say it took too long and those who say it took too short a time. I would say that quite obviously, regardless of who was consulted, the development industry is the clear winner. When they appeared before the committee and we asked them, they were enthusiastic in their support, and I don't blame them for being enthusiastic in their support of this bill; though not entirely supportive, they were enthusiastic in their support.
Those who are in the other aspects of our society were disappointed in certain aspects of the bill, some disappointed in all aspects of the bill. I do not believe that there was a meaningful consultation because what ultimately emerged was a bill that clearly favoured one side in the development debate.
This bill, in my view, provides further opportunities for some of the good old boys to favour their friends and supporters with development and planning decisions at the local level. While the overwhelming majority will not be doing this, it does open the door to those who would see fit to do so. So I can understand the enthusiasm of those who see their own power to favour their friends increased rather significantly.
I think there are several significant points. The heart of the bill revolves around the controversial issue of whether "be consistent with" or "have regard to" shall be included in the bill. Those who are on one side, the pro-development people, are going to agree with "have regard to." I also respect the fact that there are others who aren't necessarily pro-development, as the parliamentary assistant and others have suggested, who believe that "have regard to" allows more flexibility to deal with planning and development matters in areas of the province where there are differences from, say, the major metropolitan centres.
I respect that view, I don't necessarily agree with it. I don't look at it as sinister, but given the preference, I would certainly prefer "be consistent with." I believe that sets out a much clearer policy and I believe in the long run that causes fewer disputes than when you have a clause "have regard to" which is more subject to various interpretations.
I am not satisfied that this bill provides protection for agricultural and environmentally sensitive land. I think there's a major issue in this province about retaining good agricultural land. There isn't much left. They're not making more agricultural land, the last I heard. So what we have is what we have.
There's a combination in southern Ontario that we have both relatively good soils in most places and favourable climatic conditions. You look at Canada and people say, "Canada is a great country; it's a huge country." Two thirds of Canada is not suitable for growing crops. Two thirds of Canada is not really suitable for agricultural purposes -- rural land, perhaps, but not for agricultural purposes, and I'm probably erring on the generous side. It's probably more like a quarter to an eighth of the land in this country that's really suitable for agricultural purposes.
That's why it's important to protect what we have, not only for this generation but for future generations, and to provide competition for those who are outside of our province and trying to sell to our province. It helps in our pricing.
I don't think that this bill promotes the protection of agricultural and environmentally sensitive land as it should. I include in that wetlands, which are so nice to have within various parts of our province.
I am concerned about the aspect of the bill that prohibits the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs from appealing directly to the OMB; they have to appeal instead to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Take my word for it, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is not primarily concerned with protecting the environment or environmentally sensitive areas or agricultural land. It is to deal with municipalities and it is to produce housing developments. That is what it's there for.
I respect that it has a role to play in government; I respect the people in that ministry. I simply say that it would have been preferable to permit various ministries to look carefully at the plan, consult one another, and if there's not a resolution of the differences between the ministries, have them have an opportunity to make representations by means of an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
It doesn't deal adequately with severances, and this gets into the motion the member has before us, in terms of urban sprawl. I don't believe that you can give out severances like candies in this province and have good planning. I don't think there's a tough enough policy on severances contained in this bill.
I believe that it will be detrimental for the downtown areas of many of our communities. I speak of my own city and I wish our downtown area were much more vibrant than it is now. As long as we have developments on the periphery of the city -- commercial and residential and business developments -- we're going to see continued deterioration of downtown areas across this province. This bill, instead of protecting against that, instead of trying to reverse that trend, will in fact accentuate that trend.
I do not believe that the cutting of times you have mentioned is reasonable in light of the fact that you are cutting staff. The provincial government, for reasons it deems appropriate -- I do not agree with them because I believe that the policies are ill conceived -- is making significant, substantial cuts in funding to municipalities, and in its own ministries, to be fair. It seems to me that is going to be reflected in that there are fewer members of staff to deal with the development proposals that come forward, and yet this bill shortens the length of time these people have to deal with those proposals. That, in my view, means what we're going to have are proposals that don't receive the appropriate amount of scrutiny and analysis by various levels of government, by the planning departments and engineering departments, both municipally and provincially. The staff goes as well for conservation authorities and other agencies, boards and commissions which are involved in commenting.
Lastly, I believe that the development charges change is not a positive change. It reflects the concerns of the development industry, it seems to me, at the very time that you are cutting funding to the municipalities, you are largely doing it to the degree you are and with the speed you are to fulfil a promise to cut taxes, provincial income taxes, which will of course involve the borrowing of over $20 billion and an additional over $20 billion added on to the provincial debt load as a result of borrowing that money to give the money back to me and to you. That is what the agenda is all about, and the development charges are only a way that municipalities can have to recover some of the funding they are losing as a result of the drastic cuts in provincial funding.
Though it's not part of the bill -- it was an amendment I moved near the end -- I believe that it is not useful to have this bill pass in the Legislature before we see the final versions of those policy statements which, by the way, I believe are being weakened rather than strengthened through a less than satisfactory consultation process being undertaken by this government.
I do support this motion because I think the suggested title of this bill is better reflected in the motion of the member for Riverdale than it is in the title that we find on the outside of this bill.
Mr Bisson: This is the last opportunity we're going to have to speak on the contents of this bill, in committee of the whole, anyways; we'll get one more shot at third reading.
For the record in regard to this particular section, I just want to say that it comes back to the argument that the government proposed a bill in this House last fall that has a title that says basically that they want to promote economic growth and they want to protect the environment by streamlining the land use planning system. If your intent is to do that, it seems to me it should be not only in the bill but actually in the title as well.
You're moving forward with the short title of the bill where you're not really putting any kind of emphasis on a balance between protecting the environment and streamlining the planning process for the good of the people. I would say to you simply that the very least you're able to do is to look at your title in order to try to find some way to send a message out there that this government really does believe in protecting the environment and is really not as pro-development as it's made out to be. If you don't do that, I'm led to believe the opposite.
Our motion I think is trying to point out the obvious. This bill, very simply, is a pro-development bill. That's your right. You're the government, you have more seats in the House than we do, but I don't think that makes it right for the development industry and I don't think that makes it right for the people of this province.
What are you doing in this bill? You're going to have policies that you're changing that you're going to weaken when it comes to the standards about how provincial policies are applied in this province. Not only how they are applied, but the content of those policies are going to be weakened. Are we well served by that? I think not.
I would agree with the government that maybe the prior policies under 163 needed to be worked on. They were large; there was 700-some-odd pages of policy that could have been --
Ms Churley: No, no, no. That was the guidelines. That was not the policy statement.
Mr Bisson: Let me finish.
Mr Bradley: There's a squabble going on here.
Mr Bisson: There's a squabble going on between our two colleagues here. But the point I'm getting at is that I'm prepared, as a member of our party, to work with you in order to strengthen the policies so that developers and planners have a clear understanding of what those policies are, so that we really have rules that make some sense to the people out in the development industry but, at the same time, protect our environment. I think we need to keep that in mind.
I would say what both of my colleagues said before: To have policies and not having to be consistent with those policies I think is a wrong way to go. "Having regard to" is really going to mean exactly that; it's going to be raised to the lowest standard of those policies with municipalities across the province of Ontario. It really takes away the balance that you need. I think if anything happened under the previous government in regard to planning, most would agree it was the most extensive consultation process in the history of planning in this province, both under the Sewell commission and the work that was done under Bill 163. And what was that all about?
I just want to go back and read what the order in council basically said when we put forward the Sewell commission:
"The government of Ontario believes that the planning and development process should recognize and support environmental, agricultural and other public interests.
"The government of Ontario believes that an inquiry will provide policy recommendations which will assist the government in making the planning and development process more fair, open and accountable."
I think one thing that you're doing in this is that in some ways you're flying in the face of that. It really smacks this bill that it's going to be a pro-development bill, not one that's going to be fair as to how it treats the environment.
"...to examine the relationship between the public and private interests in land use and development,
"to inquire into, report upon and make recommendations on legislative changes or other actions or both, needed to restore confidence in the integrity of the land use planning system...."
I don't think that you could have integrity when you've got a bill that smacks so strongly of being a pro-development bill. If you want to encourage economic activity, I think there are all kinds of opportunities to do that, both within the development industry but also within others. I don't see the government on others. Quite frankly, you're cancelling all the economic development programs that we have throughout the province.
I would just say one thing, just a little bit on the side. I remember in the last provincial election, Conservatives in northern Ontario running as candidates. One of the platforms that they ran on was of allowing severances to happen basically at will. I saw that in my riding. I know my colleague from Sudbury East, Shelley Martel, saw that, where they were very well organized in making sure that people got the message that the NDP was against severances of all kinds and the Conservatives would fix this problem by scrapping Bill 163, and they would just allow those severances to happen.
I would say the government didn't do that, thank God, in this bill, because I think allowing that to happen would have been a step in the wrong direction. But I would say that there are people in my riding who are now feeling as if they've been misled. When I was back in the riding last weekend, one of the people that wanted to have a severance done when we were in government was really looking forward to this bill fixing his problem. It did not do that, and he wanted me to bring back to the Legislature his disapproval of what the government's actions are. I don't agree with him. I think that we were right, under the old policies, not to allow that severance. But I would say you can't run an election the way that happened last time, knowing full well that you couldn't keep that campaign promise. There was just no way that you can go to that kind of policy.
The last point I would want to make to members is simply this: We as politicians are viewed by the public in a very negative way. I think over the number of years, people look in at the Legislature and its committees and they say: "Jeez, look at the legislators. Are they really representing our interests or are they representing the interests specifically only of their party? And isn't this really all about partisan politics?" I think what we've seen in this committee over the last couple of days is an unwillingness on the part of the government to allow its members to really contribute to strengthening this bill.
I know there are people on the other side, on the government side, who really do care about this issue. I know Mr Galt and even Mr Murdoch, although we disagree on content, have a keen interest in this issue and want to make sure that their views are seen. I know Mr Carr, Mr Baird and Mrs Fisher probably feel the same way. But I really have to ask the question: What's the use of going through a committee process if even the government members aren't prepared -- or aren't allowed, I should say; I think they're prepared -- I would say aren't allowed to be able to comment and bring forward their points of view?
The point is simply this: If we're going to have the confidence of the people when it comes to being their representatives, I think it means to say that we have to be seen on all sides of the House as trying to bring forward those issues that we say are important to us and our constituents. I remember sitting on committee through the province of Ontario on this bill where government members said, "I thank you very much for your presentation and I'm going to make sure that this issue is brought back to the Legislature when we deal with it in committee of the whole and that we take that into account." Not one of those presentations were talked about by the government members, and I just warn you, I don't think that's a good practice to get into.
Our government tried to do that to us as backbenchers in the first year that we were elected as a government and I can tell you, we had one heck of a revolt in our caucus because we said, "We ain't going to come here and be seen as being bumps on a log, because we have a responsibility to represent our constituents." We went through an entire process in our caucus that really opened up the legislative process, both in caucus but I would also say within the House and committee, to allow members to have a bigger role, to be able to espouse the views of their community or themselves in order to be able to have a real say in committee.
The other thing I would say is that, also in my experience on committee of the whole before, this is the first time I have come to a committee-of-the-whole meeting since I've been elected in this House where opposition amendments have not been, quite frankly, taken seriously. On all other committees that I've sat on, there has been an attempt by government members to look at what the opposition was bringing forward and as long as it wasn't something that we disagreed with philosophically -- because I accept, "have regard to" is something that you believe in and you're not going to take that from us. I understand that. But when we brought forward ideas in regard to some of the problems we see with your bill when it comes to practical matters, there wasn't an attempt to deal with that and I would just warn members, that's not a good practice.
I recognize that some of you are new to this place and I don't say that in disrespect. We all learn as we go along and I haven't been here all that long either. Six years in this place ain't a long time. But in the six years that I've been here I've understood that you need to take seriously the comments of both people in opposition and government to make sure that we make the legislative process count for something and that we strengthen legislation through the process of both the committee and the Legislature. I would just ask you to go back to your caucus to speak in caucus about what your roles are in committee because I think it is very important.
Mr Hodgson has sat on committee with me before. Mr Stockwell who sat on committee, Mr Jackson who sat on committee on a number of different issues and bills that we dealt with as government, brought forward suggestions to our government where we, on issues of ideology -- no, we didn't move -- but when they were able to point out problems with our legislation in regard to its practicality, we accepted the amendments of the opposition and were able to deal with that so that we were able to strengthen our bills. I didn't see that as a weakness on the part of our government; I saw that as a strength, of being able to accept that legislative counsel doesn't always get it right. Let's get this straight: It was not Ernie and it was not Al who sat down and drafted this bill. The government gave direction; it's legislative counsel that put it together. Even legislative counsel at times, or the lawyers from the ministry, do make mistakes when it comes to practicalities. So I would say, go back and speak to your caucus about how your roles are on committee because I really don't think that we've been well served through this whole process.
I would just say, in regard to the title of the bill, I will be supporting the motion that my colleague from Riverdale put forward on the basis that I really do believe this is a pro-development bill and has nothing to do with environmental protection but has everything to do with urban sprawl.
Ms Churley: I want to close on saying something in defence of developers, actually. Developers are a special-interest group and they have a right to represent their constituency and their interests, and that's fine. I made that clear to some of the developers who came and supported this bill and had a lot of input in the bill. So my beef isn't with the developers. My beef is with the government, in that it is the government's responsibility to listen to and balance the interests of all so-called special interests in our society.
The problem is that this government has chosen, and it's very clear in this bill, to listen to just, on the whole, one special-interest group. Therefore, there is a lack of balance in the bill. I think that it would do us all well in the future, as we look at legislation, to agree that if we're going to call a few groups whom you don't agree with "special interests" -- like environmentalists, and they were referred to on several occasions by some, certainly not all sectors, as "special interests" and therefore to be dismissed, not taken seriously.
I know lots of developers and certain other interests don't like to -- bankers, whatever -- be referred to as special interests. Somehow there seems to be this idea that: "Gee, golly, no, they're not special interests. They have the whole of society at heart. What's good for them is good for all of us." Unfortunately, a bit of that comes through from the so-called developer community. But it's up to the government to say: "No. You are a special-interest group, and we're going to balance your rights and your needs with the rights and needs of society as a whole."
I believe that that's what went wrong. Fundamentally what went wrong with this bill -- and fundamentally that the Minister of Environment and Energy, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs were left out of this process. They're not here. They're not speaking. They're not in this bill. And this bill has much more to do with environmental protection in many ways than development. It's very sad. I hope that this government sees it as a lesson in the future to listen to everybody and balance everybody's rights.
The Chair: Any further discussion? Seeing no further discussion, I'll put the question.
Mr Bisson: Recorded vote.
Bisson, Bradley, Churley, Conway.
Carr, Fisher, Galt, Hardeman, Murdoch, Newman, Smith.
The Chair: I deem the amendment to fail.
On to the last few orders of business. Section 75: Is it the pleasure of the committee that section 75, the short title of the bill, carry? All those in favour? Contrary? Section 75 carries.
Shall the long title of the bill carry? All those in favour? Contrary? The long title of the bill is carried.
Shall Bill 20, as amended, carry?
Mr Bisson: Recorded vote.
Carr, Fisher, Galt, Hardeman, Murdoch, Newman, Smith.
Bisson, Bradley, Churley, Conway.
The Chair: I deem Bill 20 to carry.
Shall Bill 20, as amended, be reported to the House? All those in favour? Contrary? I deem Bill 20, as amended, will be reported to the House.
With that, I'd like to thank you all for your active participation in this. The committee stands adjourned till the call of the Chair.
The committee adjourned at 1604.