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    Bill 197 and the Construction Industry

    The Provincial government release and passed Bill 197 on July 21, 2020.

    This omnibus Bill makes changes to 20 statues, including the Development Charges Act, the Planning Act, the Building Code Act, the Drainage Act, and the Environmental Assessment Act.

    Development Charges Act

    The Bill makes changes to the Development Charges Act that repeal and replace some of the changes made by Bill 108 – More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019. The most obvious of those changes is an expansion of the list of services that may be funded by development charges. Notably, the changes specify that double-recovery is not permitted for services funded through development charges.

    Planning Act

    The changes to the Planning Act centre around the Community Benefit Charge (CBC) framework established (again) by Bill 108 at section 37. Through a bylaw, Bill 197 allows municipalities to impose CBCs to fund capital costs incurred as a result of the development. The new Bill also prohibits a municipality from imposing a CBC on a development that is fewer than five stories or fewer than 10 units. The amended Act also allows for the in-kind provision of services to the community.

    Building Code Act

    The amendments to the Building Code Act are more administratively focused. They provide for new regulatory making powers and allow for incorporation of third-party documents into regulations by reference.

    Drainage Act

    The changes to the Drainage Act provide for two categories of drainage works: major and minor. There will be a prescribed list of major projects and minor projects. The authorities are primarily enabling and will allow the Minister to ‘streamline’ the assessment process for petitions under the Act.

    Environmental Assessment Act

    By far, most changes under Bill 197 are related to environmental assessment. The Bill seeks to ‘modernize’ the Act and appears to follow (at least) the rubric of recent amendments to the federal environmental assessment regime in that it now allows Cabinet to create a list of projects to which environmental assessments will apply. The new Act provides for both streamlined and comprehensive assessments. One knock on these recent amendments is the failure to explicitly set out the purpose and application of the Ontario regime.

    While some of the changes made by Bill 197 will not have any immediate impact, some changes like those to the Environmental Assessment Act , Planning Act and Developmental Charges Act will come into play right away.

    If your business or project is impacted by these new regulatory changes, existing construction or environmental regulation, contact the construction lawyers at Merovitz Potechin LLP for the advice that will keep things moving for you and your project.

    This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Ottawa Construction Association’s publication, Construction Comment Magazine.

    The content on this website is for information purposes only and is not legal advice, which cannot be given without knowing the facts of a specific situation. You should never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. The use of the website does not establish a solicitor and client relationship. If you would like to discuss your specific legal needs with us, please contact our office at 613-563-7544 and one of our lawyers will be happy to assist you.

    Posted By: Roxie Graystone of Merovitz Potechin LLP

    Associate

    Roxie’s education as an engineer and his experience as a drafting technician provides a great background for his construction law practice. Roxie has a degree in environmental engineering and has over 10 years of experience as an environmental lawyer and general litigation lawyer. He brings a practical and multidisciplinary approach to his environmental law and construction law practice. In addition to his construction law practice Roxie provides strategic advice and solutions to lawyers, environmental groups and corporations facing complex environmental problems, including soil and water contamination and flooding along with regulatory matters with Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

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