The Strong Communities Act, also known as Bill 26, was introduced by the Provincial Government in December 2003. Bill 26 proposes several key amendments to the Planning Act, perhaps most notably the requirement that decisions made by municipal councils and the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) must be "consistent with" the PPS, rather than having "regard to" it. If this change is adopted, planning authorities will not merely be allowed to pay lip service to the protection of significant natural heritage features, they will have to ensure that the PPS is enforced to the full extent possible.
Another key aspect of Bill 26 is that while landowners can still apply to expand or change the boundary of an urban settlement area, they will no longer have the right to appeal to the OMB if a municipality rejects or fails to make a decision on the application. From a Greenlands perspective, there will now be a greater degree of certainty that natural heritage features falling outside approved, designated urban settlement areas will not be put under development pressure prematurely.