SVLaw Home Page
May 6, 2024
Services: Municipal Law

Going through (Further) Changes: Implications of Bill 185 on Municipal & Planning Law

The provincial government has introduced its fifth bill targeting the province’s housing crisis within municipal and planning law since December 2023. Bill 185’s Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024 (“Bill 185”) was introduced into the legislature on April 10, 2024.[1] Bill 185 builds towards the province’s goal of building 1.5 million more homes by 2031.[2] As an omnibus bill, Bill 185 makes proposed amendments to the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.13 (“Planning Act”), Development Charges Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 27 (“DCA”)  Line Fences Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. L.17 (“Line Fences Act”), and Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 25 ("Municipal Act”) among other statutes. At the time of writing this article, Bill 185 is in committee after its second reading. The following proposed legislative amendments are coming down the municipal and planning law pipeline:[3]

Planning Act

Some upper-tier municipalities “without planning authorities” have a timeline

Initially, Bill 23 introduced the concept of upper-tier municipalities “without planning responsibilities” into the Planning Act, but they were to come into force at a later time. Bill 185 provides that the Regional Municipality of Peel, the Regional Municipality of Halton, and the Regional Municipality of York will become upper-tier municipalities “without planning responsibilities” on July 1, 2024, while other upper-tier municipalities will be similarly defined at a later date by proclamation (County of Simcoe, Regional Municipality of Durham, Regional Municipality of Niagara, and Regional Municipality of Waterloo).[4]

Narrowing of third-party appeal rights for Official Plan and Zoning By-Law amendments

Bill 185 limits the number of eligible third parties that may appeal an official plan or zoning by-law amendment. The proposed statutory revision would only allow the following to have these appeal rights: the applicant, specified person (e.g. Hydro One, natural gas or electric utility), public body, or Minister.[5] The use of “specified person” instead of any person within the statute limits the number of possible appellants.

Notably, the reduced eligible third-parties will also apply retroactively. For example, any active appeal of a municipality’s zoning by-law is administratively dismissed once Bill 185 comes into force, unless the appeal was set down for a hearing on its merits before April 10, 2024 or an eligible person or public body filed a notice of appeal for “the same by-law to which the appeal relates.”[6]

In some circumstances, municipalities must include “Use it or Lose it” provisions

Site plans and draft plan of subdivisions must include “use it or lose it” lapsing provisions instead of being previously discretionary.[7] Bill 185 also imposes a 3-year time limit to register any draft plans of subdivision approved before March 27, 1995.[8]

Other Provisions

Bill 185 revokes earlier legislative efforts (Bill 109) to impose mandatory fee refunds for official plan amendments, zoning by-law amendments, site plans, and plans of subdivision.[9] In addition,  applicants have the discretion to seek a pre-consultation with the relevant municipality but municipalities can no longer require a pre-consultation by passing a by-law.[10] The Minister will receive authority to make regulations for additional dwelling units.[11]

In addition, municipalities are unable to impose parking minimums in “protected major transit station areas” through official plans or zoning by-laws.[12]

Finally, Bill 185 permits official plan and zoning by-law amendment applications for altering municipal boundaries except where they include Greenbelt lands.[13] It would also exempt public universities and colleges from the Planning Act, similarly, only where the lands are outside the Greenbelt.[14]

Municipal Act

The addition of a section providing for water supply and sewage capacity is proposed by the Bill. Authority and subsections regarding procedural requirements for granting assistance would also be added.

Two sections are proposed to be included within the Municipal Act. Bill 185 would insert a provision to grant assistance for water supply and sewage capacity.[15]  The proposed legislation would also create a provision authorizing the Lieutenant Governor in Council the authority to make regulations for a municipality to grant direct or indirect assistance for “specified manufacturing or other industrial or commercial enterprise” under certain conditions, where necessary or desirable to attract provincial investments.[16]

Development Charges Act, 1997

The method for calculating a development charges by-law will now include costs for capital costs and any corresponding background study.[17] Bill 185 imposes new transition rules with specific timelines, in line with Bill 185 coming into force.[18]

Line Fences Act

Generally, Bill 185 seeks to “modernize” the Line Fences Act by removing or revising several provisions while relieving the administrative burden on municipalities when a fence dispute arises between neighbours.[19]

Some  definitions within the Line Fences Act are altered by Bill 185 including “appeals division” or “fence-viewers”.[20] Various sections are altered, including sections relating to arbitration, service of notice, deposit of award, land situated in different municipalities, appointment of referee, and assignment of hearings.[21] For example, this proposed legislation will include Section 22.1, which states that where a property owner must be notified, the property’s occupants must also be notified (such as a tenant).[22]

Preliminary Takeaways

In summary, as currently proposed, Bill 185 will impact a variety of stakeholders from neighbours to developers to municipalities on development projects, small and large, across the province. 

Contact the experienced team at SV Law for individualized advice on how Bill 185 may impact your municipal and planning needs.

[1] Government of Ontario, “News Release: Ontario Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes” (10 April 2024), online: <>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] See generally Legislative Assembly of Ontario, “Bill 185, Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024” (last accessed 28 April 2024) online:, (bill status update).

[4] Ontario, Bill 185, Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024, 2nd Reading, Sched 12, 1, online: Legislative Assembly of Ontario ["Bill 185”].

[5] Ibid, Sched 12, 3, 5(7).

[6] Ibid, Sched 12, 5(8).

[7] Ibid, Sched 10(3)

[8] Ibid, Sched 12, 8(3), 10(4).

[9] Ibid, Sched 12, 5(5), 8(4).

[10] Ibid, Sched 12, 4(2), 5(3).

[11] Ibid, Sched 12, 7.

[12] See Ibid, Sched 12, 1(2), 4(1), 5(2).

[13] Ibid, Sched 12, 4(4).

[14] Ibid, Sched 12, 11.

[15] Ibid, Sched 9, 1.

[16] Ibid, Sched 9, 2.

[17] Ibid, Sched 6, 1(1).

[18] Ibid, Sched 6, 3(2).

[19] Ontario Newsroom, “Backgrounder: Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes,” (10 April 2024) online: Government of Ontario <> [“Backgrounder”].

[20] Bill 185, Sched 8, 1(1)-(5).

[21] See e.g. Ibid, Sched 8, 3, 8.

[22] Ibid, Sched 8, 14. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and is not legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstance.