Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO)


What is a MZO?

A MZO is a measure Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing can use to zone and thereby control the use of land in the province. These orders bypass a municipality’s normal planning approval process and can be employed to protect a provincial interest, such as an environmentally sensitive feature, or more controversially, to help overcome potential barriers or delays to development the government deems critical.


How does a MZO Differ from the Regular Rezoning Process?

Normally, rezoning applications are subject to multiple requirements, including pre consultation with the municipality, review of the application and background studies. A MZO effectively overrides this process and leaves no room for public consultation and no opportunity for appeal.


Concerns with MZOs?

A MZO eliminates the ability of a municipality’s residents to provide vital input, including having a voice on how a project might impact the community and often its natural environment. Under the newly approved amendment, a MZO no longer needs to be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) that sets out rules for land use planning.


Council’s Response?

On April 18th, 2021, a Report for Action from the City of Toronto was released recommending measures that the Provincial government should implement when using MZOs to protect local public interest and ensure accountability. 

The first recommendation was that the Minister should consult with, engage and reach agreement with the affected municipality in advance of making a decision to issue a MZO. This would essentially mimic a development review or due diligence process that provides due diligence against policy and standards that would otherwise apply to any other public or private development proposal. The second recommendation was that the Province should consider some form of formal public engagement where appropriate in the use of the MZO. Public engagement results in more informed residents and can generate more support for the final decision. Participation helps generate ownership and involved residents will better understand the issue itself and the reasons for the decisions that are made.


To read more about the recommendations check out :

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