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Ontario Overhauling and Strengthening Conservation

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Ontario Overhauling the Land Use Planning Appeal System and Strengthening Conservation

Today, Ontario passed legislation that will give communities a stronger voice in land use planning and better preserve our natural environment.

The Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017 will replace the Ontario Municipal Board with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, and help ensure that proceedings before the tribunal are faster, fairer and more affordable. The new legislation will also create the free Local Planning Appeal Support Centre, which will provide people across the province with information about the land use planning appeal process, legal and planning advice, and, in certain cases, may provide legal representation in proceedings before the tribunal.

The act will also modernize the Conservation Authorities Act, guiding the conservation of Ontario’s watersheds. The legislation clarifies the roles and responsibilities of conservation authorities and strengthens oversight and accountability. It also encourages increased public engagement by setting requirements for more public disclosure and for meetings to be open to the public. These changes will enable conservation authorities to have the flexibility to address growing environmental pressures such as climate change.

“Communities across Ontario benefit from the efforts of our conservation authorities. This legislation gives conservation authorities the tools and flexibility needed to address climate change, deliver exceptional services to communities, and protect people and property.”— Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

Improving the land use planning appeal system and preserving Ontario’s environment is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.


  • The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal will replace the Ontario Municipal Board. It will be an independent tribunal making decisions at arms’ length from the government.
  • In 2015-2016 (the most recent year for which data is available), the Ontario Municipal Board received 1,460 cases from across the province.
  • Ontario has 36 conservation authorities, which are local organizations that manage and protect water and other natural resources.
  • Ninety per cent of people in Ontario live in a watershed managed by a conservation authority.
  • The Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act will come into force on a date named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.