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.
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.
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.
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