OFA provides comments to Minister Steve Clark regarding his proposed changes to zoning orders and the Planning Act. OFA is unable to support amendments to the Planning Act that would give the Minister or any other planning authority to make planning decisions which are not consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). OFA believes the PPS does not go far enough in protecting our finite agricultural lands. OFA recommends strengthening of the PPS to require fixed urban settlement boundaries and policies requiring mandatory intensification within existing built urban areas as well as mandatory “greenfield” density requirements. OFA has concerns that giving the Minister the ability to issue MZOs that are not consistent with the PPS is short-sighted and could foster bad planning that cause either individuals or government to incur the cost of dealing with poor outcomes later.
OFA understands the need for the government to respond to the various economic challenges brought to light by the pandemic, but there are concerns that amending the Planning Act in a way that allows for inconsistent planning decisions with the PPS would counter OFA’s overarching philosophy of farmland preservation. OFA strongly encourages the government to reach out to work with both OFA and OMAFRA in order to develop a process, if this amendment does become law, to ensure important considerations are included in the MZO decision. OFA respectfully requests that the government remove Schedule 3 of Bill 257 which provides changes to the Planning Act.