The Ontario government is winding back changes it initially implemented to Official Plans in a number of municipalities, including Belleville, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra announced today (Oct. 23) in a statement.
Calandra said that since becoming minister of municipal affairs and housing last month, he’s made it a priority to review past decisions, including the minister’s zoning orders and Official Plans, to ensure they support the government’s goal of building at least 1.5 million homes “in a manner that maintains and reinforces public trust.”
He explained that after reviewing how decisions were made in relation to Official Plans, he believes that they failed to meet this test. As a result, he will be introducing legislation that will seek to reverse Official Plan decisions in Barrie, Belleville, Guelph, Hamilton, Ottawa and Peterborough, as well as Halton, Niagara, Peel, Waterloo, York and Wellington County.
“This legislation would wind back provincial changes to Official Plans and Official Plan amendments, except in circumstances where construction has begun or where doing so would contravene existing provincial legislation and regulation,” Calandra said.
He explained that this includes winding back changes to urban boundaries.
Belleville councillor Paul Carr had raised this very issue with the province back in September, right after the province’s original decision was made public.
“At that time, both elected officials and city staff were are completely caught off guard and surprised by the fact that there was this arbitrary change to the urban boundary,” Carr told Quinteist. “There was no communication, no consultation.”
Belleville’s Official Plan will now revert back to what was submitted to the ministry a year and a half ago. Carr says this will allow council to ensure that “growth in the community meets the provincial policy statement in terms of responsible growth, and make sure that infill and density is taken into primary consideration versus the expensive expansion of infrastructure.”
In his statement, Calandra asked impacted municipalities to submit changes and updates to those plans to ministry staff within 45 days of today (Oct. 23), including information on projects that are already underway. This is “to ensure that the reset plans match our shared ambitions to build more homes, especially now that municipalities have made their housing pledges.”
Carr says there are no such projects already underway in Belleville.
“Our background study that was completed by Watson economists was quite clear that there is enough land stock within the current urban boundary for the projected growth for the next 20 years,” he explained.
“This just means that we won’t have to focus on an area of the city where we weren’t focusing on growth in the first place.”