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Planning in Ontario

What is the Planning Act?

The Planning Act sets out the ground rules for land use planning in Ontario and describes how land uses may be controlled, and who may control them. The Planning Act provides the basis for:
  • Considering provincial interests, such as protecting and managing our natural resources;

  • Establishing local planning administration;

  • Preparing official plans and planning policies that will guide future development;

  • Regulating and controlling land uses through zoning by-laws and minor variances;

  • Dividing land into separate lots for sale or development through a plan of subdivision or a land severance; and

  • Ensuring the rights of local citizens to be notified about planning proposals, to give their views to their municipal council and, where permitted, to appeal decisions to the Ontario Municipal Board.

The Planning Act is legislated to
  • Promote sustainable economic development in a healthy natural environment;

  • Provide for a land use planning system led by provincial policy;

  • Integrate matters of provincial interest into provincial and municipal planning decisions;

  • Provide for planning processes that are fair by making them open, accessible, timely and efficient;

  • Encourage co-operation and coordination among various interests; and

  • Recognize the decision-making authority and accountability of municipal councils in planning.