Ontario Modernizes Regulations to Boost Rural Development

The Ontario government is modernizing regulations and boosting rural development, including streamlining zoning, expediting infrastructure projects, and updating the Provincial Planning Statement to address housing affordability and economic growth.

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Ontario Modernizes Regulations to Boost Rural Development

Ontario Modernizes Regulations to Boost Rural Development

The Ontario government is taking steps to modernize regulations and boost rural development across the province. The Eastern Ontario Wardens' Caucus (EOWC) has expressed strong support for Ontario Minister of Energy Todd Smith's announcement regarding the Keeping Energy Costs Down Act, 2024. The proposed legislation aims to promote the long-term viability and success of Eastern Ontario by keeping construction costs down while working towards a net zero energy system.

The act will ensure increased stakeholder engagement and regulatory decisions that consider social and economic outcomes. According to the EOWC, Eastern Ontario is experiencing significant growth, which requires the gas pipeline network to expand. The legislation will expedite critical infrastructure projects, ensuring continued growth and prosperity in rural communities.

The Ontario government is also seeking to streamline and harmonize the 14 existing rural zoning by-laws through a new Rural Zoning By-Law in the City of Kawartha Lakes. The proposed by-law aims to provide greater consistency and efficiency in the planning process for residents, staff, developers, and landowners. The public was engaged through six formal meetings, workshops, and online platforms, with all comments being considered before the by-law is brought forward to Council for adoption on May 21, 2024.

The government has released an updated draft of the proposed Provincial Planning Statement, which aims to modernize land use planning regulations to boost rural development. The draft statement proposes mostly minor changes from the previous 2023 draft, with the goal of increasing housing development across the province. Key changes include integrating the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the Provincial Policy Statement 2020 into a single province-wide housing-focused land use planning document to speed up approval processes.

Why this matters: The modernization of regulations and efforts to boost rural development in Ontario have significant implications for the province's economic growth and housing affordability. By streamlining processes and encouraging infrastructure projects, the government aims to create opportunities for businesses and residents in rural communities, while also addressing the pressing need for increased housing supply.

Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare expressed disappointment that the 2024 Federal Budget fell short of the investments needed to address the infrastructure gap for First Nations in Ontario and across Canada. While the budget included some positive investments in areas like policing, child welfare, and economic development, Chief Hare emphasized that more substantial and decisive action is required to close the infrastructure gap and improve the lives of First Nations people.

Key Takeaways

  • Ontario modernizing regulations to boost rural development and housing.
  • Proposed Keeping Energy Costs Down Act to promote net-zero energy system.
  • New Rural Zoning By-Law in Kawartha Lakes to streamline planning process.
  • Revised draft Provincial Planning Statement aims to increase housing development.
  • Federal budget falls short on addressing First Nations infrastructure gap.