Fast Tracking Affordable Housing Using MZO?

At this past week’s council meeting we received an update from the affordable housing task force and approved, in principle, sources of funding to keep up the momentum with Midland’s attempts to attract affordable and attainable housing builds both from the county and provincial level (who have jurisdiction/funding over housing).

During the presentation I learned that time sensitive zoning changes may form part of this plan to attract or incentivize developers. Additional incentives include reductions in development charges and concessions around requirement for parks and green spaces in future development.

Something about time sensitive zoning changes piqued my interest and caused me to ask if that would involve MZO (Ministerial Zoning Orders).  The use of MZO as an exception rather than the default tool to resolve planning and zoning issues seems reasonable to me however we’ve seen a disproportionate use (many say abuse) of these orders that side step public consultation, environmental concerns and have no appeal mechanism.

While on council this term I (and the rest of council) have received plenty of correspondence urging us to resist the broad use of MZO to “cut red tape” and allow the natural public processes to unfold.

To be clear, an MZO is not on the table right now but I have been asked enough about this topic and about my comments at the meeting to warrant this “heads up” post about the topic.

When / if an MZO comes before council, rest assured I will make every attempt to engage you to help guide me (and my peers) about the suitability of an MZO rather than standard public consultation process.

Here is a short video that explains the concerns around the rapidly increased use of MZO over the past couple years… a planning tool that exists and seems to be widely used these days by our Provincial government – often at the request of a Municipality.