TORONTO – Ontario’s auditor general says the government is using a previously little-used land planning tool to accelerate development and bypass normal planning processes.
An audit by Bonnie Lysyk’s office says the government issued 44 Minister’s Zoning Orders between March 2019 and March 2021, when in the past approximately one was issued per year.
It found that 17 of the 44 orders were issued to the same seven development groups or companies.
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Lysyk says that MZOs were originally intended to be issued in special circumstances, but the government is using them as a tool to overcome potential barriers and delays in development.
She also says that there are no set criteria by which the minister evaluates requests for orders, making it difficult to know what factors he considered when making decisions.
The auditor noted that the government also recently expanded its power to override the local authority, with increased powers for MZOs as part of the COVID-19 economic recovery legislation.
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