Ontario Construction News staff writer
The City of Mississauga has revamped the development application review process to comply with requirements of Bill 109, the More Homes for Everyone Act. Changes will start Jan. 1, 2023.
The legislation, enacted in April, includes new timelines municipalities must follow when making decisions on major development applications such as official plan amendments, rezoning, and site plan applications. Also, the legislation includes a penalty system requiring some, or all, of the development application fees collected by the city to be refunded if the new timelines are not met.
“Given all of the financial pressures on cities and taxpayers, we simply can’t afford to give back more than $7 million a year in application fees to the development community,” said Paul Mitcham, city manager and chief administrative officer. “These fees are critical in offsetting the cost of reviewing the many detailed development applications that come into the city each year. Without these fees, the cost would have to be funded by taxpayers which is unfair and once again erodes the principle that growth should pay for growth.”
Municipalities must now approve or deny development applications according to the following timelines:
- 60 days for a site plan application
- 90 days for a zoning amendment
- 120 days for a combined zoning and official Plan amendment
“Over the past few months, our team has worked to ensure we meet these aggressive new timelines while maintaining the integrity of the process and principles of good planning,” said Andrew Whittemore, commissioner, planning and building. “As we move forward, we will do what it takes to meet these timelines alongside our residents and the development industry, without sacrificing the integrity of well planned, safe and connected communities.”
The city has also changed how it works with the development community, particularly in the period before a complete application is submitted. Some of the changes include:
- Use of holding provisions on lands to ensure the applicant addresses outstanding technical issues.
- Use of site plan application conditions to ensure the applicant addresses outstanding site conditions prior to building permitting.
- Removal of pre-application fee crediting during the applications process
- Possibility that more applicants will escalate their applications to the Ontario Land Tribunal, which means Mississauga will have less say in the decisions for those developments.
Developers will be required to engage with the community directly as they are putting their application together and submit a report on the results of their engagement to the city in order for their application to be deemed complete.
Complete applications will be posted on the municipality’s website for public comments while staff are undertaking their review.
Also, a statutory public meeting date will be set approximately 80 days in advance and published as part of the complete application notice. The public meeting will occur when staff present the recommendation to the planning and development committee.
A report on the pilot – and any changes required – is expected in the second quarter of 2023.