Category Archives: Province of Ontario

Bill 139 Would Provide Greater Land Use Planning Authority for Mississauga

Mississauga’s Planning and Development Committee yesterday expressed their support for Bill 139 and endorsed staff’s comments on the Ontario Government’s proposed legislation. The legislation would change the land use planning appeal system in Ontario and better preserve the natural environment.

The Government of Ontario introduced Bill 139 – the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act in May 2017.

The new act would create the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre to replace the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Together, these agencies would give municipalities a stronger voice in land use planning.

Among other changes, the Bill proposes to amend the Planning Act to only allow appeals to the Tribunal where a Council decision fails to conform to a policy statement or is inconsistent with a provincial or upper-tier plan. The Bill would also expand the types of matters that are exempt from appeal.

The City’s Legal Services staff reviewed the proposed amendments in consultation with Council members and City departments.

The resulting staff report includes a recommendation that the Mayor or designate convey support for the Bill and provide comments to the Standing Committee.

“Mississauga welcomes the opportunity to help shape land use planning at the local level,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “It is time that municipalities strengthen our authority to make local land use planning decisions. The proposed amendments align well with our efforts to build a great city that respects and preserves the natural environment as it continues to change and grow.”

In addition to expressing support for Bill 139, it is recommended in the report that comments be submitted relating to clarifying aspects of the new test for conformity, transition provisions to avoid a large influx of appeals, climate change policy requirements and exemption from appeal for Section 37 benefits and Community Improvement Plans.

“People should have a better, faster, more accessible and affordable process for appealing land use decisions,” said Janice Baker, City Manager and Chief Administrative Officer. “Municipalities know their communities and understand local land use issues. Bill 139 puts the responsibility for good planning where it belongs, in the hands of local decision makers.”

The recommendations contained in the report will be brought to Council for approval on October 11, 2017.

 

Natural Gas Rate Changes April 1, 2017

Ontario natural gas prices are changing

The vast majority of natural gas customers across Ontario will see changes on their bills below or close to the rate of inflation beginning on April 1, 2017.

The amount of the rate change will vary between utilities and how much natural gas individual customers use. Residential customers using the typical* amount of natural gas each month can expect to see their monthly bills rise as follows:

• + $0.67 for Enbridge Gas Distribution customers
• + $0.81 for Natural Resource Gas (NRG) customers
• +$1.68 for Union Gas Southern customers
• + $3.40 for Union Gas North East customers
• + $4.19 for Union Gas Northwest customers

Despite these rate changes, overall, customers are still paying significantly less than they were at peak periods in 2009 and 2014, when natural gas costs were higher in Ontario due to factors including high market prices and unusually cold weather.

The changes will take effect on April 1, 2017 for customers of Ontario’s three natural gas utilities – Enbridge Gas Distribution, Union Gas and Natural Resources Gas (NRG). The changes reflect the routine quarterly adjustment for the market price of the natural gas commodity – known as the Quarterly Rate Adjustment Mechanism (QRAM).

The QRAM

As a commodity, natural gas prices fluctuate daily and can change significantly over the course of a year, rising and falling based on factors such as weather and supply and demand.

Every three months, natural gas companies apply to adjust their rates to cover the cost of the market price of natural gas. Adjusting the rates each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 helps smooth the price to shield customers from sharp price swings that can occur on the market. Utilities are not allowed to earn a profit on the commodity cost of natural gas so these costs are passed on to customers by utilities without a mark-up.

QRAM adjustments for each utility are as follows:

• +0.89% for Enbridge customers, reflecting an increase in transportation and commodity costs, as well as changes to the load balancing and commodity cost true ups from prior periods
• +1.1% for NRG customers, reflecting an increase in gas supply charges
• +2.52% for Union Gas South customers, reflecting the expiration of a rebate credit from April 2016 that is partially offset by lower commodity forecast costs
• +3.88% for Union Gas North Eastern customers, reflecting an increase in gas supply charges that is partially offset by lower commodity forecast costs
• +5.33% for Union Gas Northwest customers, reflecting the expiration of a rate adjustment (credit) from April 2016 and increasing commodity and transportation costs

Cap & Trade

After being introduced on January 1, 2017, the interim rates for cap and trade included in the “Delivery to You” line of the bill remain unchanged.

Utility Rate Adjustments

There are no changes to the distribution rates – reflected in the “Delivery to You” and “Customer Charge” lines on the bill – for this period.