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OPPI proposes 13 ways to get housing built fasteR

The Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) and its 4,600 Registered Professional Planner (RPP) members developed 13 recommendations to make Ontario’s planning system more efficient and get more homes built faster.

“Housing is always top of mind for planners, and we see ourselves as part of the solution to the housing crisis,” said Paul Lowes, RPP and OPPI President. “It’s clear that the process needs to move faster and as planners we know how to improve efficiency in the system while also making sure we’re creating communities that people want to live in.”

OPPI convened an expert committee of 30 RPPs who work within municipalities and at private consulting firms to create a series of recommendations on how to improve the planning process in Ontario. Many of the recommendations focus on simplifying and streamlining the process, while others suggest reforming zoning, increasing delegation of technical approvals to planners, and addressing the growing skills gap by increasing the number of planners in Ontario.

“The shortage of planners is an issue across Ontario but it’s impacting municipalities the most,” said Susan Wiggins, Executive Director, OPPI. “We need more planners to meet the growing demand within municipalities to update their own planning policies and documents, to review development applications for more housing, and to ensure critical elements like servicing, transportation, and schools are not forgotten.”

RPPs are experts in the development application approvals process and are the professionals that help deliver great communities. They are guided by provincial planning policies, understand their real-world implications, and have the expertise necessary to plan communities that deliver on both short-term and long-term needs.

OPPI is focused on helping to address the housing shortage and on working together with the province, municipalities, and its private and public sector partners.

All 13 of the recommendations can be found on OPPI’s Policy Corner and a high-level list is included below:

1. Shortage of Planners 
Address the skills gap and increase the number of planners in Ontario. Read more.

2. Standards for Planning Across Ontario 
Create a standardized set of requirements to expedite the review of technical planning reports across Ontario. Read more.

3. Uniform Data Collection and Formatting Standards 
Create a province wide data collection system and standards for planning and development applications. Read more.

4. Municipal Council Accountability 
Require municipal councils to provide planning rationale to justify instances where they go against advice from planning staff. Read more.

5. Consultation Scoping and Notification 
Scope community planning consultations so that only relevant topics can be discussed. Read more.

6. Delegation to Planners 
Delegate technical approvals to expert planning staff. Read more.

7. One Window Provincial Planning Service 
Reconcile conflicting comments among Ministries and provide a standard set of comments within the province’s One Window Planning Service. Read more.

8. Zoning Reform 
Update zoning in municipalities across the province in all Strategic Growth Areas. Read more.

9. Simplified Conformity Tests 
Where Official Plans are in conformity with provincial planning policies, zoning by-law amendments for housing applications only need to be tested against Official Plans rather than provincial planning policies. Read more.

10. Upfront Planning Tools like CPPS in New Growth Areas 
Incentivize municipalities across Ontario to use the Community Planning Permit System to expediate housing and development approvals. Read more.

11. Time Limits on Agency Review 
Streamline application approvals by setting timelines for entities like provincial ministries and agencies to comment on planning applications. The application will be supported with no objections if feedback is not received by the deadline. Read more.

12. Chief Planner of Ontario 
Create a non-partisan Chief Planner of Ontario (CPO) who advocates for proper planning principles, advances key provincial housing priorities, and provides municipality oversight for provincial planning policy. Read more.

13. Align Growth Targets and Allocations with New Provincial Housing Goals 
Update provincial planning policies to reflect the new provincial housing targets for Large and Fast-Growing Municipalities. Read more.