In our last newsletter, we described the damage that the Ford government’s Bill 23 would wreck on Ontario cottage country and beyond should it be passed into law. We implored you to write letters. You did. And it worked!

In April, the Ford government passed the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act (Bill 97) as part of its plan to build 1.5 million homes in the province by 2031.

The bill includes several items that are meant to strengthen homebuyer protections, support tenants and streamline – yet again – the rules around land-use planning.

Fortunately, Bill 97 permits municipalities to reinstate site plan control on development of less than 10 units and specifically proposes it for development within 120 m of shorelines. This means our planners and councils will retain the ability to direct development to avoid unintended (and intended) environmental damage and enter into enforceable contractual agreements with property owners. This is a big win for Muskoka!

Unfortunately, the new bill also proposes to allow interim control by-law appeals at the time of passing rather than only at their extension. This would have been a disaster for Minett where the MLA and Friends of Muskoka were instrumental in being able to change the resort policies.

Further, Bill 97 gives the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing the ability to ignore provincial and municipal policy and plans in an area of a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO). This is too much control with too few limitations. Friends of Muskoka and the MLA have spent countless hours working with the municipalities to ensure official plans contain the right protections for our environment while allowing for good development. MZOs should be used sparingly in rare circumstances, but that has not been the case with this government.

To see all the changes and Bill 97 itself visit this page.

To learn more about the problems with Bill 97, read the MLA’s letters to the province here and here, and join the MLA to increase the strength of their advocacy on this and other important issues for Muskoka. You can join online.