32nd Parliament, 1st Session


The House resumed at 8:02 p.m.


Resuming the debate on second reading of Bill 159, An Act to revise the Planning Act.

Mr. Cunningham: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I draw your attention to the lack of a quorum here.

Mr. Speaker: There is not a quorum.

Mr. Speaker called for the quorum bells.

8:06 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: I see a quorum. The member for Beaches-Woodbine has the floor.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, when we recessed at six o'clock I was discussing the stated objectives of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) in bringing in a new Planning Act, which were to show commitment to deregulation and to strengthen the role of local government. I was questioning whether deregulation is necessarily a good thing if it results in any one interest getting too large a share of power, because of superior financial resources or the ability to hire experts and so on, and I was arguing that regulation is generally needed to ensure that all conflicting interests get a somewhat equal opportunity to present their cases and, we hope, get equal treatment.

Particularly on the question of land use there are a great number of conflicting interests to be considered. I really question whether deregulation does not mean the dismissal of the provincial watchdog, which should be there to see that provincial interests are also looked after. In the absence of an overall provincial plan we do need some sort of regulation over the local governments to see that provincial interests are protected.

There is a tendency, quite understandably, for local governments to consider mainly local interests; and local politicians, being very close to their electorate, tend to think of what their electorate wants rather than to consider overall provincial interests in all cases. Therefore, I question whether that objective would justify a new Planning Act unless there were adequate provision for protecting provincial interests.

Second, with regard to strengthening the role of local government, I think all of us are in favour of that, but I very much question whether this bill really does that. It is true that it allows considerable powers of delegation of planning responsibilities to the local government, but if one looks at the fine print of the bill, one will see the minister has kept the powers very close to the vest and he can take away what he gives by withdrawing the delegation. Under section 47 of the bill, he can actually move into any municipality and do the planning for it. It is done entirely by the minister, without even cabinet approving the orders he makes under that section. There is no appeal from his decisions.

Also, the minister can move in and have a veto over municipal activities by declaring any planning action or any part of an official plan or a zoning bylaw -- any part -- a subject of provincial interest. When he does that, he can take over the planning functions and exercise them himself. It is rather like window dressing for the minister to say he is strengthening the role of local government in this bill if he should use the powers he has given himself.

One of the things we in this party are questioning is whether the powers given to the minister in this bill are not indeed excessive. We favour delegation of some planning functions to local municipalities, provided -- and this is a big proviso -- those municipalities operate democratically and are ready to assume the power. To do so, they must have no closed meetings. We have not yet got to that stage where all municipalities have open meetings for all committees. They should also provide adequate information to people wishing to question their decisions or to participate in the decision making.

We do not have a freedom of information act in this province, applying either to the province or municipalities. The governments should, of course, provide full opportunities for public participation at all stages of the planning process. While this bill does provide for a certain amount of mandatory public participation, it does not provide for public participation at all stages.

Finally, there must be a right of appeal from decisions made by local authorities. In general, that is provided through asking for referral to the Ontario Municipal Board. But the minister can set aside such appeals if he wishes.

8:10 p.m.

Delegating planning powers to local authorities does not necessarily mean we are going to have provincial planning in which there is full public participation and full opportunity for the public to know what is going on, to find out what goes on in committee meetings that are closed and matters of that sort. Therefore, if we are going to do this delegating, we have to accompany it with legislation, making all our local governments as democratic as possible through freedom of information laws, open meeting laws and requirements for public participation.

I want to go on to some new concepts that are introduced in this bill. Some of them are definitely improvements on the former bill.

The first one is the definition of areas of provincial interest. This is in section 2, where eight areas of provincial interest are set forth. While this indicates the sort of considerations that should be taken into account by all provincial planning agencies, it cannot really be called an overall provincial land use plan, and that is what I think we really need: a plan that looks at our resources and our objectives and works out the best land use to achieve those objectives. Some of those objectives include the preservation of agricultural land, particularly prime agricultural land, and the development of transportation systems that will be energy efficient and will bring services to people throughout the province and not result in tremendous concentrations of people in a few centres.

These are the sort of things that should be in an overall provincial plan, but we do not have that, and the areas of provincial interest give us only a hint of what should be in such a plan. They include the protection of features of significant natural, architectural, historical or archaeological interest; the supply and efficient use and conservation of energy; the equitable distribution of educational, health and other social facilities. These are very important considerations that must be worked into any planning.

However, under the bill, the way the minister is going to do his provincial planning is by issuing policy statements on any area to which he would like consideration to be given in planning. There is no compulsion on him to issue such statements. There is no precirculation of such statements, either to the Legislature or to the public. The Legislature is not involved at any stage in either the preparation or approval of these policy statements.

Notice has to be given when a statement has been issued by the minister, but the form of notice is left to his discretion. In effect, the statements become guidelines only. Government agencies and municipalities are requested to have regard to such statements. Even Ontario Hydro is asked to have regard to such statements, though it is basically exempted from the Planning Act with regard to its construction projects and its power lines.

There is no provision for periodic review of these policy statements or for updating them. We have had experience with policy statements in the past that were in the form of guidelines. The food land guidelines are supposed to preserve our agricultural land and develop our food industry so that we become more self- sufficient, but there are no teeth in them. They are not preserving our agricultural land; it is disappearing. Another policy statement issued by this government related to pits and quarries development. This came out during the hearings on the new aggregates legislation, which was being studied last year, and it was at variance with most of the clauses in that new legislation.

It would appear the ministry just proceeds on its own, without concern even for new legislation being brought in in this field. The Planning Act does provide that the minister will consult with the municipalities before he issues a policy statement and will consult with such other people he considers to have an interest. This gives him great power to pick and choose the people he will talk to about his policy statement. Even after the consultation, the people do not see an actual draft of the policy statement. It is not circulated prior to publication.

8:20 p.m.

Going on to official plans, which are part III of the act, in this bill we have a new definition of an official plan. I am not sure whether the minister thinks it is an improvement, whether he is trying to confine official plans to a very narrow area to avoid conflicts between groups that are affected, or whether it is to limit the extent to which an official plan governs the activities of a municipality.

I would like to draw the attention of the House to the change in definitions. Under the present act, " 'official plan' means a program or policy, or any part thereof, designed to secure the health, safety, convenience or welfare of the inhabitants of the area," and it goes on to talk about it consisting of texts and maps.

The new definition in this act says that "'official plan' means a document approved by the minister containing objectives and policies established primarily to provide guidance for the physical development of a municipality or a part thereof or an area that is without municipal organization, while having regard to such social, economic and environmental matters as appear to be relevant."

It seems to me that by changing the stress from a plan which is to secure the health, safety, convenience or welfare of all the residents, we are now going to have an official plan that is primarily concerned with the physical development of a municipality, which presumably is the bricks, mortar and roads. Considerations of a social, economic and environmental nature are something that one takes into account to the extent one thinks they are relevant. I think the concept should revert to securing the health and welfare of the inhabitants of the area.

Some people will say that then, every time one passed any bylaw, one would have to amend the official plan because every bylaw would affect the official plan. I think there is a happy medium between the two. One cannot really do planning for a municipality if one does not have an overall social, economic and environmental framework that one is planning to implement.

A new section in the act regarding official plans provides for a mandatory public meeting after an official plan has been adopted, but before it is sent to the minister for approval. I commend the minister for bringing in a mandatory public meeting and also a mandatory public meeting of the council to hear objections, including a section in the bill which says that any person who appears at such a meeting and wishes to speak must be given an opportunity to be heard. The present act has no formalized provision for public participation of this sort before an official plan is formally sent to the minister for approval.

However, after the meeting is held, it may be that there is a considerable number of objections to the official plan. In the previous act, people could ask that these objections be referred to the Ontario Municipal Board for adjudication. That was the safety net for citizens who did not agree with the official plan that had been worked out by the council.

There is still that opportunity in this new bill, except that the minister can refuse the referral under two conditions: if he decides that the referral "serves no useful purpose," or if he thinks the referral is "for the purpose of delay." This gives the minister a very great power to deny that safety net to people who object to the official plan. They cannot have an impartial body consider their objections and give them a public hearing, which had happened in the past when a plan was referred to the Ontario Municipal Board. This is a weakness in the opportunity for the public to have a final say in the decision making.

With regard to zoning and general kinds of land use controls, we find somewhat the same situation. In this area the minister may delegate his authority to any municipality to approve zoning bylaws and land use control bylaws. In fact, section 4(1) says he may delegate this authority to any municipality, although in his speeches he has indicated he would limit this delegation to municipalities that have an official plan and have planning administration machinery in place.

We already have delegated such authority to regions, and the municipalities within the regions are subject to the regional plan, but this is going to extend this delegation to cities outside regions, towns outside regions and even townships outside regions. In fact, the legislation really says he can delegate this authority to any municipality.

I think it should be spelled out. If he is intending to limit this delegation to those with planning machinery and official plans, the bill should say so. I think it would be quite an incentive for municipalities to develop adequate planning machinery and plans if delegation of authority were limited to them. I think it would really be somewhat dangerous to delegate planning authority to municipalities that do not have an official plan, because then the decisions would be made merely at the whim of each council and the councils would be subject to great pressure from local interest groups to authorize developments that may not be in the interests of all the residents of the area.

It may be, of course, that by this delegation the province does not really want to increase local autonomy but is ducking out of very difficult decision making where there are conflicting interests. The province has decided that it would rather let the local government decide between conflicting interests and handle the hot potatoes. This may be understandable, but I think the province must continue to see that any planning that is done is good planning and that provincial interests are protected.

8:30 p.m.

In addition, there must be the safety net of referral to the Ontario Municipal Board by people who feel that the zoning and land use laws are not fair to them. Once again we have the situation where the minister may refuse the referral to the Ontario Municipal Board if he thinks it would not serve a useful purpose or would be a delaying action.

The minister may, of course, declare any item to be a matter of provincial interest, which presumably is the way he protects the overall interests of the province after he has delegated this authority. However, when he does that, the role of the Ontario Municipal Board is sharply circumscribed. It is no longer the safety net for people who feel their rights have been abridged, because once the minister has declared it a matter of provincial interest, the whole procedure is really through the minister and the cabinet. The Ontario Municipal Board may be involved to hear certain issues that are referred to it by the minister, but it only makes recommendations. It does not make a decision in this case; the decision is made by the minister and ratified by the cabinet, and there is no appeal from that.

I think this indicates, really, that the so-called autonomy that is being granted to the municipalities is very circumscribed. The minister can take everything back by simply declaring something of provincial interest, and have it entirely decided by him and the cabinet.

Another omission from the legislation is that there is no statutory requirement for joint planning. It is possible. of course, for municipalities to get together voluntarily and do joint planning. I gather that the two thirds majority that was required in cases where there was voluntary joint planning has been eliminated. This is, I think, a weakness in the bill. There should be encouragement, and a statutory encouragement, for municipalities to get together for joint planning where their interests overlap.

With regard to the zoning bylaws, the public participation is somewhat defective. It is true that no zoning bylaw can go to third reading before a public council meeting is held, and notice must be given to the public that this is happening and that a zoning bylaw is about to be passed. After the public hearings are held and objections have been registered, the objector can ask for referral to the Ontario Municipal Board, but the Ontario Municipal Board can reject the objection "if the objection is insufficient in its opinion." It seems to me this again is denying the safety net of the Ontario Municipal Board to people who feel the zoning bylaw has infringed on their rights and who wish an impartial hearing by a quasi-judicial body such as the OMB. As I think I already mentioned, here too the province can reduce the OMB's powers by declaring the zoning bylaw a matter of provincial interest.

There are some other considerations we should look at very carefully under zoning. An interim control bylaw is allowed to freeze the situation pending study of land use proposals, but new restrictive time limits have been placed on such interim control bylaws. An example of an interim control bylaw is the 40-foot bylaw imposed by the city of Toronto a few years ago to put a hold on planning until they sorted out how many office buildings they wanted in downtown Toronto and how many residential developments in different areas within the downtown core.

The restrictive time limit that has been put on interim control bylaws is one year, with the possible option to extend for a further year. If an interim control bylaw has been used, it cannot be used again for a further period of three years. This greatly restricts a municipality's power to use things like the 40-foot bylaw to slow down development until they take a look at it. I think it is undesirable to restrict their ability to slow things down. We found in the city of Toronto there was a greater difference in the final outcome of the hearings following the 40-foot bylaw than there had been before it was put on. There is an appeal to the OMB when an interim control bylaw is put on. but no prior notice is required to be given to the citizens. They find out after it is on and then they can appeal it.

There is also a new section under zoning regarding what is known as an H designation, which is another form of holding bylaw. No public hearings are required on an application to remove a holding bylaw. Notice must be given to the public but that is all. An H designation could be used in the case of a heritage property or if there is some other reason why the land use should not be changed for a period of time.

Another deficiency in the zoning section is that there are no demolition controls as far as I can see that would prevent the sort of thing that is happening in Toronto right now where quality housing is being demolished to provide space for the building of luxury housing. We are losing good affordable housing in order to provide opportunities for building luxury housing that will not be subject to rent control. The people evicted when these demolitions take place are finding it more and more difficult to find affordable housing in Metropolitan Toronto.

8:40 p.m.

As a result the squeeze on the market for affordable housing in this area is growing every day. There are more and more cases where people with children are being discriminated against because there is such a squeeze and the landlords tend to take people without children. It is a sad situation. Just the other night we read in the paper of a mother and daughter who were living in a nine feet by 11 feet room and had not been able to find anything more suitable.

Going on to the powers of the minister to act on his own in the case of zoning and some subdivision control, it would appear under section 47 the minister has a right to move in and pass zoning orders in any municipality. It does not say in municipalities that do not have zoning bylaws or do not have official plans. It just says in any municipality in respect of any land in the province.

He can move in and pass zoning orders with no requirement for public notice or hearings. This is specifically exempted from this section. There is no requirement for cabinet approval. The minister simply acts on his own and there is no appeal from his decision. I think section 47 should be looked at very carefully. I would hope to see some amendments to it before this bill is adopted.

Section 48 is another Draconian clause in the bill. A utility of any kind, such as gas, hydro and, apparently, water, is not allowed to provide services to any building which is in contravention of section 47. That is the one I just mentioned where the minister can put a zoning order in any municipality in respect of any land.

One might say this is a neat way to enforce their orders. One just cuts off all the services so that one has no problem obtaining compliance rather quickly. This Draconian power of using utility services as a weapon also applies to orders under section 46 which relate to mobile homes. If any mobile home is in violation of orders under section 46, the services can be cut off.

I am not entirely satisfied with the protections in the present act, either for the public to make their objections to both official plans and zoning bylaws or with the amount of autonomy the minister is really giving to the municipalities.

There are a few other miscellaneous sections I would like to draw attention to as well. Section 7 authorizes the minister to "make grants of money to assist in the performing of any duty or function of a planning nature," and to do so out of the moneys appropriated by the Legislature." The minister can be Santa Claus, if he wishes, perhaps to facilitate or to encourage a municipality to adopt certain planning policies or to assist two municipalities to get together.

I do not object entirely to incentive grants but I think this section is much too broad. It is not clear whether the estimates of the ministry will include itemized moneys to be appropriated for specific grants, or whether there will simply be an entry of $500,000 or something like that for grants for the minister to hand out as Santa Claus. I think that section should be very much restricted, that any proposed grant should have to come before the Legislature as an individual grant and not through an unspecified fund the minister can dip into.

There is no provision in the act, as far as I can see, for public funding of citizens groups who appear at hearings before the Ontario Municipal Board or at public meetings to discuss official plans or zoning bylaws. Some of them may have to travel considerable distances, some may wish to hire experts to represent them in complicated cases, but there is no provision for public funding of that sort.

If we do not want a David and Goliath situation in our public planning, it is high time the government recognizes we must provide public funding for citizens groups to assist them to present their case adequately so that the powerful interests they are opposing are not the only ones who have a voice heard, and heard adequately, at these hearings.

Getting on to the regulation section, section 71, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations in six areas. Subsection (c) gives very great powers to the cabinet. In this respect subsection (c) says, "prescribing for the purposes of section 69, standards for the development of municipalities, which standards may vary according to population, geographic location or otherwise."

Section 69 says that municipalities may formulate standards in order to implement planning policies. By standards, they mean standard lot sizes, road allowances, minimum or maximum house sizes. There is a great deal of power in this section; it can affect the living pattern for practically all residents of any municipality. It is really much more than subdivision control. It gets into details of the individual buildings in the subdvision. If we are going to have that kind of standard setting, regulations must be pre-published and people must have an opportunity to examine them and discuss them before they are promulgated.

The pre-publication of regulations is becoming adopted by the federal government in certain areas, particularly environmental areas. I see no reason why it should not apply to regulations of this kind which will set standards that can have very great effects on people's lives.

I would also like to comment on the exemption of Ontario Hydro from the act. Except for land and buildings owned or leased by Hydro for administration and retail purposes -- presumably that includes the building across the street -- any other Hydro undertaking is not subject to this Planning Act unless the same undertaking is also not subject to the Environmental Assessment Act. The theory seems to be that if a Hydro project is subject to the Environmental Assessment Act all the planning considerations relating to it will be taken into account through environmental assessment hearings. That would be a reasonable assumption except the Environmental Assessment Act itself allows for very broad exemptions, and most Hydro projects have been exempted from the Environmental Assessment Act in the past 10 years. Darlington is an example; it is not subject to the Environmental Assessment Act.

8:50 p.m.

So in effect, Hydro is being exempted on the false premise that all of its projects will be subject to an environmental assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act. But that is not what this law says. It simply says if a Hydro undertaking is subject to the Environmental Assessment Act, which can exempt it, then it is not subject to this act.

With the combined hearings legislation we passed in the spring it seems to me there should not be concern about the problem of having two hearings on a Hydro project under this act and under the Environmental Assessment Act if the project is considered to be covered by environmental assessments under that act. So I really question the exemption of Ontario Hydro. I think the government is simply protecting its baby in this respect and letting it go its own sweet way. We have found in the past that has not always resulted in the best land use or the most energy-efficient development in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I have enumerated a considerable number of areas where I think this act is defective, so you are probably coming to the conclusion I am not going to support the act.

To sum up, the main reasons I think this act should not be read a second time but should be referred back to the minister with instructions to redraft it are: the act does not have adequate opportunities for public participation in making planning policy and decisions; it does not provide for adequate input of the people into the development of provincial policy statements; it does not ensure the preservation of agricultural land, which, I think, should be a major provincial interest and should be carefully safeguarded by legislation of this sort; and it does not provide adequate appeal procedures at all stages of the planning process.

Finally, I feel it provides much too broad a discretionary power to the minister and this power should be spelled out in a much more limited way in this act. If he finds he needs additional powers he can always come back to the Legislature and spell out exactly what he needs.

So for some of these reasons we have decided we will not support the bill. We will be bringing in amendments on a considerable number of the points I have mentioned, and after we have had public hearings on the bill, as I hope we will -- I hope it will be referred to a standing committee so we can have public hearings and see whether other people in the province share our views -- then we will decide whether the bill as amended by the committee is worth supporting on third reading.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I find it almost incredible the New Democratic Party has decided not to support the bill when its basic premise puts the responsibility for planning in the hands of elected politicians. In many respects, as well, it takes away the appeals to cabinet that have been so much of a concern for those of us who have watched the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) move from his rather lowly position as the member for Lambton to a senior cabinet position on the very basis of engineering these special appeals to cabinet.

I cannot imagine what arguments the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) used to persuade his colleagues to go along with his contention that the bill should be opposed. I suppose it was attrition, which is his principal argument in these matters. However, the great New Democratic Party has decided to oppose a bill that really is, in principle, an attempt by the government at least to modernize the planning procedures in the province.

We have had the promise from the minister who is carrying the legislation that this will be reviewed extensively by a committee meeting in the winter recess. So there will be ample opportunity for any citizens who might possibly agree with the member for Beaches-Woodbine, unlikely though that may be, as well as those who are knowledgeable about planning matters, to come in and assist us in our attempt to perfect the legislation before it returns to the House next spring for final enactment.

My comments do not indicate that I believe it is perfect by any means, but I can tell members that any attempt to get away from a succession of appeals to cabinet is one thing I really must support. I have felt for the last three years, ever since the Minister of Agriculture and Food emerged from his cocoon and became the butterfly of cabinet appeals and the engineer of these appeals, that even the most minute severances objected to by Tory land holders in the hinterland have been a matter of urgent and immediate concern by the whole cabinet as they meet Wednesday after Wednesday. I have a feeling he leads the agenda of cabinet by bringing to his colleagues' attention any repairs the present planning system might require for the good of various supplicant Conservatives who approach the cabinet through the Minister of Agriculture and Food.

The greatest omission I feel is apparent in this bill is the absence of a plan for the province. I believe we have been remiss in our responsibilities for the last two decades in that we have not been able to tell those people who have planning responsibilities at the municipal and local levels what we as a Legislature envisage for the planning of the overall development of the province itself. Ever since John Robarts decided to leave politics and go into the various boardrooms of industry and finance there has not been any kind of planning voice in the councils of government.

Those people who remember Mr. Robarts's leadership here will recall his policy statements. There was a series of them, all named Design for Development, which attempted to set out a plan for the development of the province. His major disciple, the former Treasurer, Darcy McKeough, attempted to impose a provincial plan on the municipal authorities by indicating to them from time to time what his own view was on the development of various regions of the province.

At one time, members may recall, the decision was made that any further development in Ontario should be east of Toronto. That plan was unfulfilled because of a number of objections by the government to federal policy, which might very well have assisted in developing that concept for the development of the eastern part of the province. The only other part that has suffered because of Conservative policy has been the development of northern Ontario, which does not even have Dash-7 service to Kapuskasing and Moonbeam.

9 p.m.

In the absence of a plan for Ontario, I believe much of our effort at development has been, if not completely wasted, at least misdirected. My own view has been that the basis for such development should have been on the sources of electrical energy, atomic and otherwise, which over the last 15 to 20 years have really been of world class. We know the atomic development in the Bruce Peninsula is unsurpassed in size and scope -- and cost -- anywhere in the world, even those countries which are centrally planned. The coal-fired electrical station in Nanticoke is the largest in the whole world.

We are now borrowing money to build a new atomic station in Darlington which will even surpass the Bruce station, which up until now has been the largest. Among many of the largest-in-the-world lists we could raise is the fact that these stations are producing an excess of power -- well beyond what the province could use if we turned on all of our Christmas tree lights at once.

As a matter of fact, the maximum peak load over the Christmas season and the high peak load in January is estimated to he about 17,000 megawatts. At the present time, we are capable of producing 27,000 megawatts, and we are paying for this additional supply of power with dollars borrowed in New York at upwards of 15 per cent over the last number of years.

To talk about planning, my own feeling is that the commitment for the production of huge amounts of electrical power should have been the nodal points for a plan for the development of Ontario. Whether or not we question the judgement of the then government in establishing the Pickering plant, which is one of the largest and most efficient atomic plants in the world, so close to the city of Toronto, still much justification could be given for using the electricity produced at the array of atomic plants we have built close to the plants themselves.

I understand there is a plan in the works which will use waste heat from the Bruce atomic plant for the development of certain under-glass agricultural enterprises. There is even a rumour that some people, versed both in agriculture and politics, may have something to do with the administration of such a proposal. The idea is a good one. It certainly finds favour with me.

I have often felt the more electricity we could use close to these plants the better. In this way we could have some effect on the growth of our major urban centres. Now that we have found the population of the province has not only plateaued, but in some areas is actually declining, the pressures for the control of growth and the planning of that growth have been mitigated to a great extent.

It does not seem too many years ago when the former Treasurer of Ontario, John White -- it is interesting to note his former campaign manager is waiting in the wings here tonight for another bill that may be coming forward a bit later, assuming that this bill carries -- was probably the last visionary we had in the seats of the cabinet of the province. He was the one, in the days when the demographers were predicting extensive growth in the population, who decided the present urban areas of Metropolitan Toronto, Hamilton, London and Windsor should have the pressure removed. These new populations would go out to a number of new communities that would be established on the shores of Lake Erie.

Frankly, I am quite relieved the population pressure predictions made in those days by the employees of the Treasurer and Minister of Economics have now been found to be completely incorrect and misleading. We are still paying the price for the incorrect advice the Treasurer received in those days, but the concept was an interesting one. It really was the fruition of John Robarts's attempt to establish a plan for the development of Ontario.

To give him credit, I felt he was very unwilling to direct any community as to what it had to do to fulfil any proposed provincial plan. But the general direction of population growth, the designation of certain urban centres as industrializing centres, were things I feel were not only acceptable, but sensible. For us to be considering now, as we are in Bill 159, an entirely new approach to the philosophy and mechanics of planning in the province seems, to me to be inadequate, unless we as a Legislature are prepared to tell our municipalities what we believe the directions of growth and development should be.

In other words, the whole planning of our province seems to me to be a very shaky edifice, because it is lacking the cornerstones of the provincial direction I believe we were elected to give. More specifically, I for one am very glad indeed that the basic responsibilities for planning decisions at the community level are going to be taken by those members of municipal councils who are elected. The very best remedy for planning decisions taken locally that are not acceptable to the people lies in the ballot box.

Although the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has indicated he intends to extend the municipal tenure to three years, which is longer than the provincial tenure on average, the people at the local community level still can have an input in planning decisions made much more effective by the process of democracy. Establishing the Ontario Municipal Board as a court of appeal is something I have always felt was quite appropriate. I have a great deal of confidence in at least some members of the municipal board, who have had extensive experience in this very House and know the sensitivity and great background necessary for the kinds of decisions arrived at by the municipal board in its deliberations.

All of them, as far as I know, are very much committed to the kind of public input that would, in the long run, affect the decisions they will be called upon to make in the future. It is obvious that the responsibility of the municipal board is going to be increased in this connection, although I notice the ministry can always indicate that a certain decision is going to have province-wide ramifications and thus can step in at will to vary or reverse a decision made by the municipal board that it feels is inappropriate for any reason.

I certainly recall the report made by the royal commissioner, former Chief Justice McRuer, on similar matters. It was his contention, and one I always felt made a good deal of sense, that in the last analysis elected people have to make the final decision and bear the political responsibilities for those decisions. It is on that basis I support the principle of this bill, which puts the original responsibility on the elected representatives at the community and municipal level.

It is for the same reason that I feel, in the last analysis, that when the government of the day, however inept, indicates it must make the final decision on a planning initiative of some scope, while I can object to that on the basis that its judgement might be bad, I cannot object to it on the basis that it should not have the final decision. I am sorry my syntax is so heavy in that regard. What I really mean is, in spite of the fact that for the last 38 years the Conservative government has shown a certain insensitivity in making these important decisions, still I am prepared to fight for its right to make the decisions as the government of the day.

It is then responsible to the people under our democratic system to justify the efficacy and justice of those decisions. It is a mystery to me that it has been able to justify successfully the efficacy and justice of those decisions, but those days are rapidly coming to an end.

9:10 p.m.

I say again that I am disappointed the House in general is not going to be supporting the bill, which in its major intent is an attempt to improve the sensitivity and appropriateness of the planning procedure. It almost flies in the face of the democratic approach we should be taking here. This framework at least is going to be sent to a standing committee for an extensive review, whereby all of us as members can attempt to perfect this slightly flawed piece of legislation.

I believe we will be able to improve it during the course of our deliberations over the next few months. I have no hesitation at all in supporting my colleague the member for Waterloo North, who has indicated we intend to support the bill in principle.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a number of comments on the principle of this bill. I will try not to be terribly repetitive and repeat all the excellent presentation made by the member for Beaches-Woodbine and the real contribution made by other members in this House.

I must reiterate and concur with the comments made by the member for Beaches-Woodbine, the member for Waterloo North and I think by others who condemn the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for not being here while this bill is being dealt with. I thought since he was not here this afternoon, he would at least be here this evening.

Surely all of us in the House, and I would think the minister himself, would recognize this is a most important piece of legislation, at least on the issue of municipal and provincial planning, and this is intended to incorporate both. It is the only document, it is the first new bill in this regard in a decade, yet the minister who has responsibility for this matter is not in the House.

That is no reflection on his parliamentary assistant. I know from his years in municipal life he probably knows more about it than the minister does. However, when we have a bill of this importance before us, it would seem the minister should appear in the House. He is almost being contemptuous of the municipal people, of the 850 councils across this province, when he does not deem it necessary to be in the House to give direction to a bill that is this important to them.

I recognize the whole matter of planning is in some respects a difficult one, whether one is at the municipal or provincial level. Land use planning by its nature restricts what people want to do with their land and with their property. They cannot do what they like with it. Therefore, there is substantial resentment by people who feel they are adversely affected by the planning laws and planning regulations.

I recognize also that adequate planning is most beneficial to the generations of the future -- perhaps this generation as well, but certainly other generations of the future -- so there are not many votes in it in a sense at the present time. One does not get a great many votes for planning for the future 20 or 30 years down the road. That also makes the implementation of adequate planning somewhat difficult.

There is the difficulty of who shall make the determination on planning matters. Shall it be the province? We all recognize that there should be a very substantial provincial presence in the whole planning field. In fact, it is really their obligation to set up the framework of land use planning for the province and determine, as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk said, where growth should take place within this province and what kinds of growth should take place in various areas.

There is tremendous jealousy among the local councils and they will not want to be interfered with in what they want to do in their own municipality, so it is difficult to draw the line between local planning and the provincial planning spheres. All of these factors make it very difficult to do planning, and I am the first one to admit it, but they do not give the right for a government, whether it is provincial or municipal, to opt out of those responsibilities.

I say immediately that I have mixed feelings about this bill that we have before us, this new Planning Act. It is really an amendment to the old Planning Act, a pretty substantial amendment. I am sure they brought it in as a new act for technical reasons more than any other. I suggest this bill is better, perhaps fairly substantially better, than the old Planning Act. Perhaps I should rephrase that: there is a possibility that it could be better under this bill, under these proposals, than the existing Planning Act.

But I also must say that the opportunity to bring forth a land use plan that would set priorities to benefit this and future generations has been missed.

Mr. Piché: Oh come on, Mel.

Mr. Swart: It really provides, as the member for Cochrane North well knows, no overall provincial plan. In fact, the plan we have before us really provides no priorities.

Many of the improvements have been mentioned by my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine and the other members who have spoken. One improvement is that for the first time it does provide that provincial presence -- the right of the province to intervene where it feels there is a provincial dimension to the planning. For instance, I am sure the field of the environment is an area where the province should intervene on planning matters.

The preservation of our prime agricultural land is a provincial responsibility, as is the equitable share of social facilities. Here we get into a great variety of homes, such as homes for those who may have been released from mental institutions. There is a provincial responsibility there to see that communities accept their share. The possibility for this is provided in this bill that we have before us at the present time.

I am sure that none of us who have been in municipal life think for one minute that the local municipalities can in an effective way implement the policy for preservation of our best agricultural land. That has to be done at the provincial level. Unfortunately, that cannot be left to the regional municipalities because, and perhaps rightly so, they are interested in what is in it for them in their particular municipality. Their particular interests may not be the provincial interests or the long-term interests of this province.

Unfortunately, although it is provided in section 2 of the act that the minister will have regard to these matters I have spoken about, there is no indication that he will intervene. Of course, what bothers me about this section 2 is that it really does not set up any priorities whatsoever. He may take a look at these things, reject them and do as he sees fit. Many of the acts do set up priorities, and perhaps I will quote from one or two in a few minutes. Even some of our own acts in this province set forth the purpose of the bill and the priorities in the bill. This is not done by the new legislation we have before us.

9:20 p.m.

I think the bill does provide for a greater degree of public participation in the decision-making process. First of all, as my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine and others have mentioned, and as I believe the parliamentary assistant mentioned when he was speaking, a municipality may not pass a zoning bylaw. I would like him to comment on whether they can pass amendments to the zoning bylaws without a public meeting; it does not make that perfectly clear.

Nor can they pass amendments to official plans without having public meetings before they are finally passed. That is a great improvement, let us make no mistake about that. When a municipality must consult the people affected in that municipality before they pass a bylaw, it is a good move, and there is no denying that.

Second, it provides that a municipality must review the official plan every five years, not just by themselves but at a public meeting. That too is commendable, and it is a very substantial improvement over what we had before.

It may be a two-edged sword or two sides of a coin, but the determination that planning boards will not have any statutory power certainly has a good side to it. It will be the elected representatives in the municipality who will ultimately make the decisions with regard to planning matters, although there are planning advisory committees in the north, and perhaps elsewhere there is provision for joint planning boards under the bill we have before us.

I also like the idea that most matters will not be appealed to cabinet. I think there is a very practical point to this: no cabinet that is conducting the affairs of the province really has the time to deal with hundreds of what may be very small matters. They may no be small to the individual, but in the context of the general administration of this province they are very small, and the cabinet does not have the time to deal with them. No cabinet can know both sides of that story when they make decisions, so it is going to be made on the recommendation of the minister or of officials in any event.

I think it is the job of any government to set up the general policy, to set up the general framework, to intervene at the Ontario Municipal Board hearings if they feel there is a provincial interest; and in many of them there is. But when it comes to overturning the OMB, when it comes to the final decision, it seems to me the OMB should act as an arbitration board and make the final decision. This is not to say that the government should delegate authority to the board, because, as the member from Cochrane North knows, it is government responsibility to set up the general framework and the laws, but where a decision has to be made on very fine points, on evidence that is given, it should be made by an arbitration board. We handle many things in this province and in government in that manner.

The bill we have before us also makes another very substantial improvement, which is that it provides the machinery whereby the local official plan can and must be brought into conformity with the regional plan. The regional acts we have in this province at the present time provide that a local municipality must bring its official plan into conformity forthwith after a regional official plan is passed, but they do not provide any machinery for it. The fact is that local municipalities do not want to bring it into conformity. The official plan or local zoning bylaws in effect are no way of doing that. This does provide for that machinery in, I guess, the only reasonable way that it could be provided.

I am very pleased that the framers of this bill and the advisers whom they had -- I guess the municipalities were the prime ones -- rejected development control as the main means of planning. This was played around with and toyed with in a lot of areas, not just in this province but elsewhere, and particularly in the United States. I suggest it is not a very effective way of doing any permanent planning. When you have development control, it could be changed from one year to the next, and no property owner knows exactly where he stands with regard to what development is permitted on his property.

The act has gone some way towards establishing conformity of time periods with regard to appeals and that sort of thing. It is an improvement over the old act. Also, penalties are increased and I suggest that is rather important too. If we mean what we say in official plans and in zoning bylaws, there have to be substantial penalties rather than just a licence to break those laws.

The minister's power to withhold or direct referral is changed. I am not quite sure whether that is an improvement or not. At the present time, if an official plan or a zoning bylaw is submitted to the minister, he may refer it to the Ontario Municipal Board; but if he is requested to refer it to the Ontario Municipal Board, he must refer it unless he determines the request is not made in good faith, is frivolous or is for the purposes of delay. Those are the only three grounds on which he may refuse to refer it to the Ontario Municipal Board.

That has been changed, and there were some substantial reasons for changing it. In fact, I submitted a private member's bill to make the change in that part of the legislation myself, because we had just come through a $2-million hearing on the urban boundaries for the Niagara development plan in the Niagara region. The hearing actually lasted some three years, although only a little over a year of time was actually spent. I say only a little over a year of time; it was the longest and the most costly Ontario Municipal Board hearing in the history of this province.

I was pleased last August when the cabinet confirmed the Ontario Municipal Board's decision. However, within 41 days, the city of Thorold decided they wanted to go after something again that they had not got in these lengthy hearings, and passed a resolution to ask the minister to include another 545 acres. This, of course, would have opened the whole hearing up again and perhaps cost another $1 million or $2 million immediately after a decision had been made.

Ratepayers of municipalities should not be subjected to those kinds of costs, so I moved a private member's bill which would have permitted the minister to refuse to refer a request to the Ontario Municipal Board for amendment of the official plan if it had been dealt with in recent times. In the bill we have before us here it says "the minister determines it serves no useful purpose," or he may decline to send it to the Ontario Municipal Board if the request is for purposes of delay. I am not sure whether it is the appropriate alternative.

What is no useful purpose? It seems to me that if they had added that clause, which I introduced in my private member's bill, they would have had the specific reason he should not refer it to the OMB. I do not know how he will determine what is no useful purpose in referring to the OMB, and we will probably have an amendment to that.

9:30 p.m.

The section on community improvement is much more comprehensive than it was in the old act; therefore, I am supportive of that. Having made those comments, I must now deal with what I think are the very real shortcomings in this bill.

These comments, of course, will be much longer if I am going to deal with all of those. I have some reservations about the delegation of any powers of the minister under this act. It is not the intent under this act, I believe, to delegate any powers of the minister to a municipality. The minister has stated, and I think I am right in stating his parliamentary assistant has given assurance, that they are not going to delegate authority to a local municipality to create its own official plan and approve its own official plan. I am sure he will agree that is not going to be done; however, it could be done under this bill, could it not?

If he means he is not going to do that, then some senior body with an overview is going to have to do that. Surely he should say it in the bill, because in fact a municipality could ask for approval. Even a municipality of only 2,000 or 3,000 people could ask for approval for its own official plan to delegate authority, and its own zoning bylaws. I am sure that is not the intent, as he has already said, but that has to be in the act. We can only judge the act on what it says. We cannot judge the act on what a parliamentary assistant says today or what the minister says tomorrow.

Mr. Rotenberg: Support the bill and then come to committee.

Mr. Swart: It will get to committee. He has a majority, he does not have to worry about that.

Mr. Bradley: René is going for a ride in Bud's limousine.

Mr. Swart: René will not get half the ride the people of Ontario are.

Mr. Piché: That is not fair.

Mr. Swart: Whether it is in the jet or whether it is in a STOL, the people of Ontario will be taken for a ride like they have never been taken before.

When it comes to committee, we will be moving amendments to that section of the plan.

Another objection we have, and I think it is reasonable, is that local municipalities are permitted to have plans which can be totally independent of neighbouring municipalities. I can remember municipal life 30 years ago when a government official -- unfortunately, he had the same stripe then as he has now -- came into our --

Mr. Epp: I did not know you were that old, Mel.

Mr. Swart: I know, I do not look it.

Mr. Bradley: You were only 15 then, Mel.

Mr. Swart: -- came into our municipalities and told us the tremendous importance of having a planning board which overlapped municipal boundaries. It does not make any sense, he said, to let one municipality prepare its own plan, and right next to it have another municipality preparing its own plan, with not necessarily any co-ordination between them. Yet this bill permits that, at least in southern Ontario. It treats northern Ontario somewhat differently; they must have a planning board, but it may overlap into other municipalities and the minister will have the power to enforce that.

However, for the rest of Ontario, the bill leaves it up to the local municipalities to decide whether they want to or not. The member has been in municipal life long enough to know that not all local municipalities that exist side by side are on the best of terms and can agree on all matters. Therefore, it seems to me there should be some provision in this act for co-ordination of the plans of two or more neighbouring municipalities.

I also have some reservations about the delegation of land severances to the local committee. It is fine, and I suppose easy, to set up overall plans, regulations and guidelines. That is the responsibility of the provincial government and the local municipalities in their particular sphere because it covers the whole municipality or covers the province, but when it comes to having to make what are often the individual decisions under that and to say to one person that even though it may be contrary to the overall plan they cannot do this, it becomes very difficult for municipal people. Frankly, they often just do not do it. From the political facts of life, it does not happen that way. When there is a land division committee on an area basis, such as there is in a region like the regional municipality of Niagara, there is not so much breaking of the general policy.

Since the regional municipality of Niagara was formed, the number of consents on land divisions has been cut to about one third of what it was before. If that had been left with each local municipality that would not have been the case. The land division committee was a regional committee which had an overview, and what it did in one area, it would have to do in another area. They set the precedent and therefore followed the overall plan for the region. That is one of the areas of success in the planning of Niagara, perhaps the only area of success. So we have some very strong reservations about that, particularly for those municipalities which are in counties and regions.

Another matter that bothers me in this bill, and it was true of the previous act, is that if an official plan is referred to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and requests are made to refer part or all of it to the Ontario Municipal Board, those who have a real concern about that have no indication of what he is going to do. They do not know whether they should put in another counter-application, or whether they should not, because they do not want it to go to the Ontario Municipal Board if the minister is going to make a decision favourable to them. If they are not sure, they will put in another counter-application, so some matters get referred to the Ontario Municipal Board which otherwise never would have been referred to the OMB.

Let me give members an example, again from the Niagara region where, after this regional plan had been approved, the city of Thorold was to make this application to open it up for the inclusion of another 545 acres of unique land within the urban boundaries. The Ontario Municipal Board itself had said in its ruling that if there was to be additional unique land put in any given area an equal amount should be taken out of another area. What is the position of those who were concerned about preserving that unique land if that request had been made to the minister? It never got that far, and I think it may be stalled temporarily.

Should they ask for some to be taken out even though the minister might have rejected that? If they make an application that it be referred to the Ontario Municipal Board to have some taken out, then we have an OMB hearing. It seems to me that within this bill we should have a provision for the minister to announce his intention of what he will do perhaps 30 days ahead of time, so the people would know and then they could determine on the basis of some knowledge whether to make a request to the Ontario Municipal Board.

As mentioned again by my colleague, this act does not apply to properties owned by Ontario Hydro, and we think it should. There may have been some justification under the old Planning Act that it stalls the process. Anyhow, it does not seem reasonable that one municipality should be able to block a Hydro line, for instance, by an amendment to its zoning bylaw as it then existed.

9:40 p.m.

But now, under section 2 of this act, the minister has the power to declare such matters, on which submission can be made to the municipal board, of provincial interest. This is a matter of provincial interest where the cabinet has the final decision. With that clause in there, surely the property owned by Hydro should also be subject to the provisions of the local official plans or the zoning bylaw as finally determined by the municipal board, and by the cabinet in this case.

There is no public funding provided in this bill, as there should be if there is going to be any equality in the battles that inevitably take place between developers and the public -- and that is where most of the battles take place. Often the developers are joined by the municipalities, but it is the public who generally defend the public interest and have to defend their own concerns. Again, if I may use Niagara as an example, it was officially estimated by the planning department there that over $2 million was spent by all sides for that hearing. Those who fought to preserve the land spent just under $150,000. The remaining $1,850,000 was spent by the municipalities and the developers.

It may be said the final decision was more pro-preservationist than pro-development. But the fact still remains, if there had not been those interested people, if they had not been willing to fund that battle primarily out of their own pockets -- although the government did come in and give them some assistance under the section that provides for public funding for legal cases -- that land would largely have gone, because the municipal board makes a decision on the evidence before it, and that evidence would not have been there if those people had not been willing to be involved. I know one individual there who gave more than $2,000. Several individuals gave more than $2,000 towards those hearings out of their own pockets to look after the public interest, to defend what the government said it was going to do. Yet in the bill there is no provision to provide that kind of equality.

What bothers me even more about the bill before us is that it does not require that the counties that cover much of Ontario -- regional levels of government have it in their specific acts -- do any planning. Throughout most of the democracies of the western world, for decades there have been requirements that the counties or the regional governments develop official plans for their areas. Yet here we have this ignored again in, as I said, the first new Planning Act that has been before this House in decades. This is ignored, and it means within those areas there is no overview. There is power to refer all these matters to the local municipalities over which the minister has authority, but there is no requirement to have that regional overview with regard to planning. We in this party think that is absolutely essential if there is to be adequate planning within this province.

What makes the bill unacceptable to us is the lack of a provincial plan. It was promised by this government from about 1973 to 1976 that there would be a provincial plan established. From then on, they started to back off. Bad enough that they backed off from the idea of the provincial plan which was just so essential for the development of this province, but instead they have provided in the bill for a bunch of policy statements; they will be the guide for the planning development of this province.

We do not know when, if ever, we are going to get all of those policy statements. We do not know what all of them are. There may be two, there may be three, there may be four, there may be a dozen. According to this bill, those can be developed in secret, and I should point out that pattern has already been set.

How many people in this Legislature know that when the hearing was taking place on the official plan for the regional municipality of Durham, there was a letter sent to the Ontario Municipal Board enclosing an aggregate policy for the province. The letter, and I have copies of it, stated that this plan had been developed some 16 months before this hearing but no one outside of the Ministry of Natural Resources apparently knew anything about it. It was sent there as government policy to that hearing.

I have here the comments of the Ontario Municipal Board with regard to that policy plan. This is the decision which they made and brought down in 1980 over the Durham regional plan, and what I am about to read refers to this until-then secret document which had been developed in the Ministry of Natural Resources and was presented at the hearing as the 10-point policy with regard to aggregate resources and how they should be incorporated in an official plan.

I quote, "The board accepts this document as a statement of binding government policy and agrees that the regional plan should reflect the policies approved by the cabinet in preference to those originally proposed by the region."

Incidentally, the letter which accompanied it said it had been approved by the cabinet some 16 months in advance of being presented, but no one knew about it. Is that the way policy statements are going to be developed now? These policy statements are the most important part of the whole planning system in this province. I do not think there can be any doubt about that.

Whether agricultural land is going to be preserved; how we are going to treat the environment; whether aggregate resources are going to take priority over preservation of the escarpment and many other environmentally sensitive areas of this province: those are going to be the most important documents. Those of us who sat in the hearings on the aggregate bill a year and a half ago -- incidentally, it has not been reintroduced into this House -- realize that that policy statement on aggregate resources was far more important than the bill we had in front of us at that time.

The bill had no meaning; it was the policy with regard to aggregate resources that really mattered.

If this bill is going have any meaning, those policy statements must be regulations, and they must be tabled in this Legislature and discussed in this Legislature ahead of time. But there is no provision for that in this bill.

9:50 p.m.

I conclude by saying we feel very strongly about this matter of planning for the province. In our party, it is an important philosophical part of our beliefs that one should do planning including comprehensive land-use planning, not only to protect the people now in our society but also to protect future generations.

We are going to need all that food land. There can be no question about it. Every study that is made, whether it is done in Canada or whether it is done world-wide, shows there is going to be a shortage of food-producing land to feed the population of this world by the year 2000 and, in particular, by the year 2025.

We have an obligation to preserve it. In this party, we are going to see to the best of our ability that we do our part to preserve it and that we do the other types of planning which are so badly needed in this province.

We feel the bill which we have before us, although better than the previous one and perhaps substantially better than the act we have at the present time, does not do anything like it should be doing for overall planning in this province. Our party is saying to the government: "Take this back. Take this back and incorporate within it the kind of policy that is needed."

It is for that reason we on this side of the House cannot support this bill, because it does not go far enough in this day and age to meet the very real needs of this province and the people within our society.

Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments on this act. I provided a fairly long list of questions and concerns at the time of the minister's estimates in which I dealt with the draft act, but I do have some specific concerns which I hope the minister's parliamentary assistant might address this evening on second reading. We will certainly want to look at them in committee.

It is not without reason the Conservatives waited for a majority government before introducing this act. When we look at the act, I think there are a number of faults in it that have to be taken into consideration. The new Planning Act has defined planning in far more restrictive terms than in the past. Planning is henceforth to be primarily land use oriented, which means municipalities will be unable to include in their official plans policies pertaining to social or other goals unless such goals clearly relate to land use.

For example, it will be possible to say where land should be set aside for day-care centres but not to include the policies for establishing or financing them. One must ask why the definition of the official plan at present in the existing act is the definition it is and why the new definition has been substituted for the old one.

The irony is that the new act provides full and complex procedures for the review and approval of municipal planning documents and talks about the need for accountability, yet the cabinet under the act is completely unaccountable to anybody. It can pick and choose with whom it will consult and in what manner, prior to issuing binding policy statements.

One wonders if the government believes in accountability for the municipalities while leaving itself a lot of latitude in this regard. The provincial agencies are obliged to have regard for municipal plans, but Ontario Hydro is specifically exempted from any planning controls, provided that it has regard for municipal policies and consults with local governments. This only prevails, of course, where the agency itself considers that a development of theirs might have an impact on that municipality.

The bottom line of all of this, I guess, is that the governments have been burned once too often by having to go through the standard approval channels to obtain local consent for projects such as landfill sites, nuclear facilities and other such troublesome uses.

The new act, of course, would nearly eliminate such hurdles, leaving only the often very fragile protection of the Environmental Assessment Act as the sole safeguard of the public interest. Just as the minister may issue binding policy statements purely at his own discretion, by the same token he can require an amendment to local official plans with only minimal protection for the municipalities concerned. It is true that an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board can be filed, but in such cases the OMB acts primarily as a forum for public input, since it reports back to the minister, who makes the final decision.

So, like the policy statements, this can be seen as one more arrogant measure. What these mechanisms are probably intended to do is to avoid the embarrassment of the sort that occurred in the Barrie annexation hearing, where opponents of the annexation bid had the audacity to challenge the so-called provincial policy with respect to Barrie's future growth.

There is no mention that major ministerial decisions of this type would in any way be subject to legislative scrutiny. Oh sure, we will deal with them in question period and we will deal with them in estimates, but there is no requirement that major decisions be tabled in the Legislature so they can be openly debated.

It is also disappointing that this rewrite of the Planning Act fails to resolve some of the more blatant problems of the existing legislation. My colleagues from Beaches-Woodbine and from Welland-Thorold have dealt with this at some length, but the case in point is the provision which protects uses that do not conform to zoning bylaws. Dozens of court cases have revolved around the ambiguous provision of the section that talks about uses continuing from the date of passing of the bylaw but which does not indicate how continuous this must be.

Planners and lawyers across the province agree that this provision should be clarified, yet we find no attempt in this act to do so. It would be a fairly simple process to establish very much more specific guidelines. That this blatant issue was not resolved in the new act leads one to suspect that the motivation behind the act is not so much to clean up the Planning Act as to establish more clearly the arbitrary powers of the minister. Indeed, were it not for the latter objective the majority of the other changes in the act could have been introduced in the form of amendments to the existing act.

I would also like to deal with the contrast between the powers of the city of Toronto for bylaw enforcement under the City of Toronto Act and those of other municipalities such as the one I represent, the borough of Etobicoke. One of the areas in which we frequently have problems in our community is the problem of absentee corporate landlords. We have an extremely hardworking bylaw enforcement officer, one Mr. Burns, who deals with our area. He spends countless hours for which he is not paid going out in the evening to meet with people, hours that are certainly way beyond what his job description calls duty. Yet it can take months to get an absentee landlord, a large corporate landlord, in some cases with headquarters in Vancouver or maybe even offshore, to pay attention to the needs of the tenants and to the requirements of the municipality.

10 p.m.

In contrast, the city of Toronto housing standards bylaw enforcement powers are extremely powerful. When it comes to enforcement the city may prohibit the renting of a dwelling that does not conform to standards. The city can have the repairs done on the building if the owner is unwilling. For example, they can walk in and immediately repair an apartment furnace and put the repair on the owner's taxes. The enforcement measures include a summons order. The owner must do certain work within a certain period of time or face prosecution, which, of course, is the procedure followed under the present act by other municipalities.

In addition to that there is an enforceable work order. The city may have the repairs done and add the cost to the owner's tax bill. The city can also prevent rent hikes until the work is done or hold rents until the work is done, or indeed can use rents to pay for an owner's repair bill. The city inspectors, when health is at stake, can force entry into a furnace room, for example, and carry out repairs. If the owner fails to repair the building as ordered by the city, the city has the right even to demolish or repair or close the dwelling. These powers are rarely used by the city of Toronto, but the fact the bylaw enforcement officers have those powers means that when a work order is issued, it is usually obeyed.

In contrast, we have the situation in other municipalities where the enforcement powers are considerably weaker. One would hope that under section 31 of this bill the minister would at least re-enact certain provisions that are under the City of Toronto Act so that all municipalities, all bylaw enforcement officers, might have the powers the city of Toronto has. When we get into the suburbs, such as Etobicoke or Scarborough, we are running into the same bylaw enforcement problems they were running into in Toronto. Indeed, one must question the discrepancies in these kinds of powers.

Those are a few remarks I wanted to make this evening.

The Deputy Speaker: Does any further member wish to participate in this debate? I see no further member.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, a great many points have been raised in this debate this evening and it would be virtually impossible in the time we have left this evening to deal with all these points, especially considering this will, I hope, be going to committee for a full discussion of all the points raised.

I have taken notes of most of the points and staff of the ministry are here. All the points that were raised are noted and we hope we will be able to have full discussion of those points in the committee. We will try to have answers to all the questions raised by members of the House. I hope we will be able to give consideration between now and the time it comes to committee to the various points raised and possibly have some suggestions to satisfy some of the criticisms of the members opposite. Some of those criticisms may be valid and some, I think, may not be valid.

I do appreciate the co-operation and support of the Liberal Party for second reading of this bill. I recognize some of the reservations that have been raised by the members for Waterloo North and Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. I hope we can discuss these in committee in the same spirit of co-operation in which we have discussed the bill tonight.

However I am somewhat surprised by the stand taken by the New Democratic Party. In my opinion it is just a cop-out. I think the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk put it very well. After all the time spent by the ministry in drafting this bill, after it heard deputation after deputation and met so often with municipalities which really want the bill, they say they are going to vote against it. I am wondering if they really mean they do not want a new Planning Act -- because that is the effect of their vote.

The ministry is saying to this House tonight that we have brought forward a draft Planning Act for second reading. We are taking it to committee for detailed clause-by-clause discussion and public participation, with the public coming in to tell us what they think of this Planning Act.

The New Democratic Party, which always tries to tell us they are all for public participation, is saying: "Do not have your public hearings. Do not have public participation. Go back to your quiet cubby hole and do it all by yourself without public hearings." I am surprised and shocked at the stand of the New Democratic Party tonight which is, in effect, saying: "Do not hold a public hearing. Do not have a committee hearing. Do the thing somewhere else."

Ms. Bryden: We didn't say that at all.

Mr. MacDonald: You get shocked when you should not get shocked and you don't get shocked when you should.

Mr. Renwick: Why don't you respond to some of the criticisms instead of making a partisan political speech.

Mr. Rotenberg: As I have indicated, many points have been raised tonight and I intend to respond to them when we get to the committee hearing.

Mr. McClellan: That is good of you. Drop us a postcard.

Mr. Philip: Have you had your head in a fishbowl again?

Mr. Rotenberg: When the members of the opposition are through interrupting, I will try to wind this up.

Many points have been raised and we will discuss these fully in committee. As I indicated at the beginning of the presentation of this bill, I ask that it be given second reading and then I ask that it go to the standing committee on general government for a full and complete hearing of all the points that have been raised.

The House divided on Hon. Mr. Bennett's motion for second reading of Bill 159, which was agreed to on the following vote:


Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Bernier, Birch, Boudria, Bradley, Brandt, Breithaupt, Conway, Copps, Cunningham, Cureatz, Dean, Drea, Eakins, Edighoffer, Elgie, Elston, Epp, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gregory, Grossman, Haggerty, Harris, Havrot, Hennessy, Hodgson,

Johnson, J. M., Jones, Kells, Kennedy, Kerr, Kerrio, Kolyn, Lane, Mancini, McCaffrey, McCague, McNeil, Miller, F. S., Miller, G. I., Mitchell, Newman, Nixon, Norton, Piché,. Pollock, Ramsay, Reid, T. P., Robinson, Rotenberg, Ruston,

Scrivener, Sheppard, Shymko, Snow, Stephenson, B. M., Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, G. W., Timbrell, Treleaven, Van Horne, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Wells, Williams, Wiseman, Worton, Wrye.


Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, Di Santo, Grande, Laughren, MacDonald, Martel, McClellan, Philip, Renwick, Swart, Wildman.

Ayes 75; nays 13.

Ordered for the standing committee on general government.

The House adjourned at 10:40 p.m.