The Official Plan Review & Zoning By-law Review

What is an Official Plan?

An Official Plan is a municipal policy document that guides decisions on land use and development. It sets out the vision, goals, and objectives for the municipality, and provides broad direction on matters such as growth management, infrastructure, protecting natural resources, employment lands, housing, natural hazards, parks, and the public realm. The Township’s Official Plan must be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the County of Simcoe Official Plan, and other provincial plans and strategies, such as the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. The Official Plan outlines land use designations and policies, and maps out a land use structure across the Township.

A Zoning By-law is a legal document which puts the Official Plan into effect. Zoning By-laws contain provisions to prohibit or permit land uses, regulate location and density of buildings or structures, and outline minimum frontages, lot depths, and lot coverage. Zoning By-laws also regulate the type of construction, height, bulk, location, size, floor area, spacing, character, and uses of buildings. The Zoning By-law divides the Township into a range of zones, which are mapped as Schedules to the By-law. Each zone has particular provisions for permitted uses and development standards. The Zoning By-law also contains general provisions which apply to all zones.

What is a Zoning By-law?
Why are they being reviewed?

Section 26 of the Planning Act requires municipalities to review existing Official Plans every five years to ensure that they conform to, and do not conflict with, provincial plans and upper-tier municipal policies.

Since the Township’s current Official Plan was adopted (and amended), there have been significant changes to provincial plans and upper-tier municipal policies – for instance, the Provincial Policy Statement 2014 came into effect, the province released four new provincial plans in May 2017, and the County of Simcoe adopted its most recent Official Plan in December 2016.

The Township’s current Official Plan needs to be reviewed to ensure conformity to provincial and upper-tier policies, and it also needs to reflect local community objectives, growth and demographic change, and up-to-date principles of good planning.

Section 34 of the Planning Act allows the Township to establish a Zoning By-law. Section 26(9) of the Planning Act requires that municipalities must amend Zoning By-laws to conform to updated Official Plans within three years. The Township’s Zoning By-law 97-95 was adopted (and amended) to implement the current Official Plan, so an updated Zoning By-law is needed that will implement the new Official Plan.

It makes sense to review the Official Plan and the Zoning By-law at the same time, since the Zoning By-law implements the Official Plan’s objectives. This will help to ensure consistency between Official Plan policies and Zoning By-law provisions.

How does the Township's Official Plan Review relate to the County's Municipal Comprehensive Review of its Official Plan?

The scope of Oro-Medonte's current Official Plan Review (OPR) process will consist of a conformity exercise to update the current Official Plan policies to address Provincial and County policies, including:


  • applying the County's population and employment forecasts to 2031;

  • applying the currently approved alternative density and intensification targets;

  • generally updating the Township’s land use, servicing, and transportation policies;

  • developing a settlement area hierarchy at the lower-tier level to inform the County's upper-tier settlement area hierarchy

  • specifically bringing the Township Official Plan into conformity with the approved County of Simcoe Official Plan, the Provincial Policy Statement (2014), the Province’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2017), the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, and the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Region Source Water Protection Plan.


A further review of Oro-Medonte's Official Plan will be completed once the County of Simcoe has completed a Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) of the County of Simcoe Official Plan.  The Province’s 2017 Growth Plan dictates that certain other matters can be addressed only after the County of Simcoe has completed a Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR).  In essence, new policies in the Growth Plan give a more prominent role to upper tier municipalities (the County of Simcoe) for managing regional growth.  MCR’s must be undertaken at the upper-tier (County) level.  The County MCR process will set the stage for future additional lower-tier/Township Official Plan policies, including:


  • allocation of the population and employment forecasts to 2041;

  • need for any expansions to settlement area boundaries, or identification of excess lands;

  • establishing a settlement area hierarchy;

  • need for any conversions of employment lands to non-employment uses;

  • regional Agricultural System and regional Natural Heritage System policies and mapping to implement the recently released Provincial mapping;

  • servicing capacity & expansion capabilities;

  • justification of alternative intensification and density targets;

  • housing strategy and employment strategy;

  • intensification strategy;

  • climate change strategy;

  • watershed planning


The County of Simcoe has already commenced the Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) process to bring its Official Plan into conformity with the Province’s 2017 Growth Plan.  The County will work with Oro-Medonte to collect necessary information for its MCR process, as well as engaging other lower-tier municipalities, the public, other stakeholders, and First Nations.  It has been identified by the County staff, that the County MCR process is being undertaken in a three-phase approach over the next two to three years, including:


  • Phase 1 from late 2017 to mid 2018,

  • Phase 2 from 2018 to 2019, and

  • Phase 3 from 2019 to early 2020.


Rather than the current approach to completing the Township Official Plan Review process, the Township could have delayed the entire Official Plan Review project until the completion of the County MCR.  However as noted above, there are many elements of the Oro-Medonte Official Plan that can be reviewed and addressed at this time without needing to wait for the completion of the County MCR process in 2020 and this is the process now underway by the Township.

How can I get involved?

You can visit this web site for updates, provide comments to the Township, and attend Open Houses and Public Meetings.