3.1 Overview

There is a broad range in the scope and complexity of MNRF’s planning. Each planning process needs to be tailored to fit the scope and nature of the issues that are being dealt with, the geographic scale of the planning, the interests that may be affected, and the expected level of public interest. Crown land use planning can be grouped into three broad categories: basic, complex, and comprehensive.

The Ministry focus is on updating area-specific land use policies that were previously developed through comprehensive planning processes. Updating area-specific land use policies involves the use of land use amendments, rather than new, comprehensive land use plans. Comprehensive planning processes may still be required when the issues are significant and affect a relatively large area.

3.2 Categories of Crown land use planning

Grouping planning into three broad categories: basic, complex and comprehensive, is intended to help MNRF staff in designing a land use planning processes. It is not intended to be a rigid system; rather, there is considerable flexibility and overlap in the definition of the categories. In general, the complexity of planning is a more significant factor in determining the planning category than the size of the planning unit.

The categories of Crown land use planning do not directly align with the categories of land use amendments (administrative, minor and major). All Crown land use planning processes that propose new area-specific land use policies require a land use amendment, but the nature of the amendment must be determined by the specific changes that are being proposed, not the category of planning. For example, a complex or comprehensive Crown land use planning project that results in limited changes to area-specific land use policy may only require a minor land use amendment.

Basic Crown land use planning

Policy proposals that could be considered through basic planning processes include:

  • modifying the boundaries of an existing land use area, consistent with the overall policy for the area
  • making minor revisions to, or clarifying the intent of, area-specific land use policies
  • splitting an existing land use area in order to graphically portray existing differences in resources or policies within the area
  • incorporating new or revised provincial policy into area-specific land use policies, where some local interpretation and consultation is required

Complex Crown land use planning

Complex Crown land use planning processes normally involve a planning unit consisting of one land use area or a small number of land use areas and address a limited range of resource issues that may be of interest to local or regional stakeholders. Regardless of their limited scale and scope, these planning processes are classified as complex because they deal with one or more contentious issues.

Complex processes will usually – but not always – have more than one stage of consultation. The area-specific policies will result from the consideration of a range of options. Processes that result in land use decisions will require formal documentation through a land use amendment to and may also involve a new or amended local land use document.

Proposals for changes to area-specific land use policy that could be considered through complex planning processes include:

  • developing more detailed area-specific land use policies for one or more Enhanced Management Areas (EMAs)
  • adding or removing Crown land from a provincial park or conservation reserve
  • significantly altering the land use intent and area-specific land use policy of an established land use area (e.g. changing a General Use Area (GUA) to a Remote Access EMA) or considering a Recommended Provincial Park or Recommended Conservation Reserve

Comprehensive Crown land use planning

Comprehensive Crown land use planning processes typically deal with a complex array of land use issues, some of which are likely to be contentious. These processes usually consist of a large planning unit containing several existing or potential land use areas. Comprehensive planning processes usually address most, or all, of the resources that MNRF deals with, and they should also seek to integrate the interests of other ministries or agencies that wish to achieve objectives using Crown land.

Comprehensive planning processes are typically multi-stage and involve substantial analysis and documentation. They often involve the preparation of, and consultation on, documents dealing with one or more of: background information, issues, goals and objectives, or planning options. Land use decisions are often presented in a separate document, although the decisions also need to be incorporated into the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas (CLUPA) through a land use amendment.

Comprehensive Crown land use planning processes that have been undertaken include the:

  • Lands for Life/Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy
  • Temagami Land Use Plan
  • Madawaska Highlands Land Use Plan
  • Lake Nipigon Basin Signature Site Ecological Land Use and Resource Management Plan

3.3 Steps in Crown land use planning and implementation

Crown land use planning processes can be broken down into a series of steps that can be identified, described and applied in different ways. Describing these steps can be complex because Crown land use planning consists of a combination of: project planning; analytical, decision-making and documentation processes; and public involvement initiatives.

The requirements associated with each of the steps are normally addressed in some form regardless of the Crown land use planning category. However, as planning initiatives increase in scale and complexity more rigour will be applied in how the steps are carried out. For example, basic and comprehensive planning processes generally follow the same planning steps, but differ very significantly in the effort expended in project planning, the treatment of resource information, the nature of analysis, the amount of documentation, and the nature and scope of public involvement.

The ten generic steps include:

  1. Prepare for planning
  2. Design the process
  3. Confirm topics/issues and assemble background information
  4. Develop land use goals and objectives
  5. Develop options (where appropriate)
  6. Analyze and evaluate
  7. Develop and review draft land use policies
  8. Develop the recommended land use policies
  9. Decide on policies and communicate decision
  10. Close out the project

There are three subsequent steps that are not part of a planning project, but which should be considered in conjunction with planning processes:

  • implementation
  • monitoring and evaluation
  • assessment and potential review

These subsequent steps play an essential role in adaptive management.

Although the identification of steps suggests that planning is a linear process that moves sequentially, planning processes often require revisiting earlier steps or touching on elements of future steps in order to aid in the resolution of specific issues. In particular, there is a substantial amount of overlap among the first few steps, and there is no standard sequence of initial planning steps that can be applied in all processes.

Direction on each of the planning steps is outlined in the remainder of Section 3.0. Some mandatory requirements (standards) are identified, but within the context of providing reasonable flexibility to ensure that planning processes can be tailored to fit the needs of specific planning processes.

The following direction for the planning steps does not provide detailed direction on the specific requirements for land use amendments. In all planning processes the direction provided in the Guide and other supplementary planning guidance documents must be considered.

3.3.1 Prepare for planning – step one

  • This step is usually only a discrete step for complex and comprehensive planning processes. For basic planning processes this step and step two, "Design the Process", should almost always be treated as a single step.
  • It is important that a preliminary assessment is completed to determine if a planning process is required and if so, what type and scope of planning should be used. Crown land use planning processes can be considered where the issues can potentially be addressed through the establishment or modification of land use areas and the associated land use policies.
  • The scope of the planning process must be defined and be realistic. Applying an integrated approach to resolving a broad range of issues may be ideal, but such a scope may create a process of such complexity that it is not possible to come to a successful conclusion within a reasonable time frame. Many other resource management agencies that manage large areas of land separate the land use and resource management planning functions.
  • In general, the larger the area or the more complex the issues, the more desirable it is to try to scope the breadth and/or depth of planning (breadth of planning refers to the number of topics or resources being addressed, while depth of planning refers to the degree of detail or specificity of decisions). If a relatively small area is being dealt with it may be feasible to deal with a broader range of topics and to make land use and minor resource management decisions in the same process.
  • It is important to consider at the front end, the potential scale of planning, significance of the issues, and range of participants and stakeholders that may be interested or involved in the planning process. For basic planning the initial scoping discussions would usually occur entirely within MNRF, because the issues and planning process may be relatively routine. For more elaborate processes, the communication and discussions should be broader. As the potential scale and scope of the planning increases, it is desirable to hold discussions with other ministries and other interested parties, and Indigenous communities, as early in the process as possible.
  • Project scoping should include:
    • What are the primary issues?
    • What is the geographic area that might be included in planning?
    • Why is Crown land use planning being considered?
    • Is a Crown land use planning process likely to address the identified issues?
    • What would the objectives of the planning process be?
    • Who are the interested or affected parties, and what are their interests? This assessment should consider a full range of external parties, and other ministries or agencies.
    • How might the planning affect the policies, plans or interests of other ministries, agencies, the Federal government, municipalities, planning boards, Indigenous communities, stakeholders and the general public?
    • What are the potential longer-term implications of changes to land use policies?
    • Do the conditions exist that would allow for a successful planning process, including the availability of adequate resources?
    • Do the expected benefits of the planning warrant the projected costs?
  • Planning processes may need to address other commitments that have additional direction. Consideration should be given to the geographic extent of the potential planning. A planning project may require the consideration of a variety of geographic areas because the area where new land use policies are being considered (i.e. the planning unit), the area that is included in the analysis of potential effects, and the area where consultation occurs, may all be different.
  • Planning units should be large enough to allow for thorough consideration of land use issues and options, while not being so large as to be unmanageable. When determining the planning unit, or the area where potential effects will be examined, consideration should be given to the nature of the decisions and participants – a planning process that is mainly dealing with terrestrial issues may apply ecological units such as eco-districts or eco-regions, a process that is considering significant aquatic issues may use watersheds, and a process that is focused on Indigenous communities’ interests may use traditional frames of reference such as traditional lands, treaty lands or trap line boundaries.
  • In making the decision to proceed, consideration must be given to the interests and perspectives of the potentially affected parties, including other ministries.
  • The decision to proceed would normally be made as follows:
    • Complex planning – responsible Manager in consultation with ministry district and regional offices.
    • Comprehensive planning – determined by the nature of the project; minimum approval level is the Regional Director, but further approvals are often required.
  • In basic planning processes this step is almost always combined with step two, and thus approvals to proceed are obtained as part of the combined step.

3.3.2 Design the process – step two

  • Design of the proposed planning process, and the nature of the associated documentation, should be based on how elaborate and contentious the process is expected to be. In most cases the development of the process will be led by MNRF planning staff, but varying degrees of involvement of other government staff or members of the public may be required. A planning team is necessary for complex and comprehensive planning processes.
  • Flexibility should be built into the planning process whenever possible. For example, some projects may require an iterative approach, revisiting earlier steps as planning proceeds.

Identify objectives

  • Identify the broad objectives of the planning process –- the initial research and scoping associated with step one should provide the basis for this. The objectives that are identified at this stage should deal with the planning process, not the actual plan. Examples of objectives for a planning process might be to update planning documents so that they support the implementation of specific new provincial policies or to develop area-specific land use policies related to access in an area.

Project management

  • Project management provides a set of generally accepted processes that help to deal with varying possibilities. The application of project management practices, processes and techniques will increase the likelihood of larger projects being completed on time, within the defined budget and scope, and to an acceptable level of quality.
  • Project management approaches should be used in Crown land use planning processes, depending on the level of complexity. Basic planning scenarios that follow routine processes do not usually warrant formal project management approaches and can add unnecessary complexity.
  • Virtually all comprehensive Crown land use planning projects, as well as some complex planning projects, will warrant the use of formal project management approaches.
  • The Ontario Government’s project management approach includes two front-end stages for project scoping or planning that may be relevant to specific Crown land use planning projects:
    • project definition stage –- project charters can be used to define what the project is to accomplish, what it will produce, and who should be involved
    • project planning stage –- project plans, possibly in combination with project schedules, create a detailed plan for what tasks need to be completed and when, what resources will be used, how it will deal with risk, and who should be communicated with
  • A Terms of Reference may be used in addition to the project management documentation or independently. Terms of Reference are less formal and less technical documents outlining the broad elements of a planning process and are useful when involving the public in designing the planning process or communicating the broad elements of a planning process.

Involving governments, Indigenous communities, and the public in designing the process

  • Planning is usually led by MNRF districts or regions, but some offices may not always have the necessary expertise on staff. As a result, there should be an identification of staff or resources from outside the lead unit that need to be involved at subsequent stages.
  • Where there are broader implications, relevant staff from across MNRF and the Ontario government should be engaged in the design of the planning process, and the proposed planning process should identify appropriate opportunities for consultation with other ministries throughout the planning process.
  • Consideration should be given to the nature of the involvement of other governmental bodies, for example any municipalities or planning boards that could be affected by planning decisions. The nature of any expected inter-agency involvement or consultation should be clearly identified in the Terms of Reference or other project documentation.
  • The appropriate involvement of Indigenous communities and the public in designing the process will vary substantially depending on the nature of the planning. Most basic and some complex planning processes will not have any involvement at this step, but some complex and all comprehensive planning should provide opportunities for Indigenous communities and the public to participate in designing the planning process as it is outlined in the Terms of Reference or another public document. Often this is accomplished by posting a policy proposal notice on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, and by mailing and/or publishing notices that invite interested parties to participate in the process. A variety of involvement techniques such as open houses, workshops, questionnaires and background documents can also be considered at this stage. A separate process may be contemplated where Indigenous community engagement is being sought in the design of a planning project.

Planning for the involvement of Indigenous communities and the public

  • All Crown land use planning processes must include opportunities for indigenous community and public involvement, and the involvement must be integrated into the planning process, not treated as a separate process. These opportunities should be tailored to suit the planning issues and process, and the interest and capacity of the potential participants. The intended nature of the involvement must be identified in the documentation of the proposed planning process.
  • For complex or comprehensive processes that are dealing with contentious issues, it is desirable to consider involvement strategies that go beyond minimum requirements. These strategies could include the establishment of a multi-party advisory committee or planning team.
  • Indigenous community and public involvement requirements for related processes should be addressed through a coordinated approach when possible. There are limits to the extent that processes can be combined or coordinated because many project level processes have requirements or considerations that are beyond the scope of Crown land use planning. Some planning proposals may involve specific legal and/or policy obligations related to Indigenous communities’ interests. In these situations, it may be desirable to ask the Indigenous communities how they would like to be consulted. Further guidance on Indigenous engagement and consultation is found in Section 4.2.

Planning for data management

  • Planning for data management is a key consideration and should be factored into the initial design of the planning process.


  • To begin planning, one or more formal approvals may be required, depending on the scale of the process, the nature of the documents that are being used to outline the process, and whether the process may trigger the need for a land use amendment.
  • The Terms of Reference/Project Charter for local Crown land use planning projects should normally be approved by the District Manager. In the case of a planning project crossing district boundaries, or having significant implications, the Terms of Reference, Project Charter and/or Project Plan should also be approved by the Regional Director.
  • For minor land use amendments, the approval to proceed is given by the appropriate Regional Director documented through the classification approval decision on MNRF’s land use amendment form. For planning processes that could lead to a major land use amendment, the approvals may be more complicated, depending on the scope of the planning. For special planning processes (e.g. co-planning projects) there may be a need for partners to review the proposed process.

3.3.3 Confirm issues and assemble background information – step three

  • Detailed confirmation of issues is mainly applicable to complex or comprehensive planning processes. For basic planning processes the issue definition and scoping work that occurred as part of designing the planning process may be adequate. For all projects, a thorough identification of issues or problems provides the basis for developing relevant solutions. Issue statements should focus on identifying the core problems, not just the symptoms.
  • Basic planning projects will usually identify problems and issues based on available information, whereas with more complex projects it will normally be desirable to obtain local and stakeholder input in problem identification. This can occur through informal discussions and/or more formal public involvement processes.
  • Although always necessary to assemble information as part of a planning process, or ensure that existing information is available, this may or may not constitute a specific phase in the planning process.
  • The information collection/assembly must be targeted to address identified issues Comprehensive information assembly should not occur early in the process, as this often results in the collection of information not relevant to the issues. In some processes developing draft preliminary goals and objectives prior to any data assembly will help clarify the scope of the planning and focus the data assembly.
  • The scale and nature of information assembly should relate to the scale of decision-making. Most Crown land use planning projects over large areas will rely on the compilation of existing information and may involve obtaining information not currently in MNRF’s databases. In contrast, site-specific planning may require the collection of some detailed local information not currently available in standard databases. It is important to recognize that planning rarely has access to all the data considered desirable; as a result, it may be important to differentiate between essential and useful information.
  • Information on local and traditional ecological knowledge – including Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge – may be useful. The knowledge of local residents and resource users can also be an important contribution to planning processes. In major or potentially contentious projects it may be desirable to go beyond the collection of values information to the identification of interests. Interests typically include an identification of needs, concerns and priorities. Some interest identification may have occurred at steps one or two but the work at this stage is more detailed. An understanding of interests may have substantial benefits in the subsequent development of objectives and options, and the evaluation of planning proposals.
  • Where there is the potential to propose land use policies that could significantly affect activities or values that are of interest to other ministries, consultation should usually occur with the appropriate ministries regarding the information necessary to support decision making.
  • An overall information management strategy for more complex planning projects is required, so collected information, analysis and results are managed using appropriate standards and processes. Consideration also needs to be given to any analytical or modeling tools, if necessary.

3.3.4 Develop land use goals and objectives – step four

  • Developing goals and objectives is key to complex and comprehensive planning processes because they guide all subsequent planning. Carefully defined land use goals and objectives help establish a common understanding of what is to be achieved and guide the development and evaluation of options. Direction pertaining to the planning process itself should not be included in the goals and objectives.
  • Basic planning processes do not usually identify new goals or objectives, as the existing land use policy for an area or group of areas is not being substantially modified. For example, adding land to an existing land use area would not normally identify goals and objectives, as these would already have been established either explicitly or implicitly for the existing area.
  • Land use goals and objectives must relate to the issues that have been identified in the planning process. Goals and objectives must consider higher level direction (e.g. legislation, provincial policies or plans), including direction that is the responsibility of another ministry or agency. In developing the goals and objectives it is also important to consider any lower level direction to see if conformity is a potential issue.
  • Goals are broad statements of desired outcomes and specific guideposts for measuring achievement. They describe a future vision that planning will support. Goals may already have been defined in another document or process or may be developed through planning. Goals provide a bridge between higher level direction and identified issues, and objectives. There should be a small number of goals, or preferably a single goal statement if it is a focused planning process. Goals should normally apply throughout the entire planning unit and should encompass all resources that are being dealt with in a planning process.
  • Objectives are concise, measurable statements of the desired future condition for an area, resource or resource use which is attainable through management action. Objectives must be consistent with planning goals and relate to the planning issues. Objectives can apply to an entire planning unit or specified parts of the planning unit. Where objectives deal with resources, they should typically address only one resource at a time. Objectives help with the identification of the amount and type of information that will be needed for decision making, provide the basis for the development of strategies, and are the yardsticks against which achievement is measured.
  • Direction pertaining to the planning process itself should be expressed as a planning principle and should not be included in the goals or objectives. Section 2.3 of the Guide outlines planning principles for MNRF’s Crown land use planning. In most Crown land use planning processes the provincial-level planning principles should provide adequate guidance and should not need local elaboration.
  • The nature and role of goals and objectives varies considerably depending on the type of Crown land use planning. Planning may establish broad goals and objectives for a planning unit including several land use areas, or the goals and objectives may be specific to an individual area. In some cases, Crown land use planning may not establish goals or objectives for an area, because they may be implicit in the designation. For example, new forest roads are closed to motorized travel by the public within Remote Access EMAs, but existing authorized access can continue. In contrast, GUAs have very little provincial level policy, making it essential the planning process defines the policy at an area-specific level.
  • Crown land use planning processes should attempt to identify goals and/or objectives for individual land use areas. In some cases, it may only be possible to develop goals, but where possible it is also desirable to develop objectives, because these provide much more explicit direction. The development of goals and objectives for specific land use areas will be easier in planning processes that deal with a smaller number of land use areas or an individual area. Where goals or objectives are developed for land use areas, they should be documented in the land use intent section of the policy reports.
  • When carrying out Crown land use planning, goals and objectives that are developed should be land use related, and the planning should leave the development of resource management objectives to the appropriate resource management planning process (see Section 6.1 for more guidance on the differentiation between land use and resource management decisions.) This recommendation is particularly applicable to those resources or programs where there are well-developed resource management planning processes. However, in some cases it may be efficient to address some resource management topics in Crown land use planning, and both land use and resource management objectives will be dealt with in combined land use and resource management planning processes.
  • Land use objectives are generally less prescriptive than those developed through resource management planning. For example, land use objectives would rarely identify a time for the completion of an objective, because many land use objectives are intended to apply indefinitely. Strategies (i.e. a description of how to achieve an objective) should not be blended into the goals and objectives.
  • The level of technical precision in goals and objectives may reflect the extent of public involvement. Planning processes involving extensive external involvement in developing material, often makes it challenging to apply technical standards (e.g. standard definitions of what should be included in goals and objectives). It is important to develop statements of direction that are appropriate and clear, even if these do not precisely follow the guidance outlined in this section. If public participants are receptive, the goals and objectives may be revised so they fit the technical standards without losing the original intent.

3.3.5 Develop options – step five

  • Options are different ways of achieving desired ends. This step in the planning process identifies options for allocating and managing lands to meet the defined goals and objectives, and should identify the most feasible, effective and efficient approaches. Options provide the basis for assessing the potential trade-offs between competing interests and uses, and need to be practical, technically and financially feasible, objective-focused, consistent with policy and legislation, and be within the scope of the planning process.
  • The scale of option identification needs to be linked to the complexity of the planning process. In a simple planning process, there may be few or no options. In contrast, with a complex planning project the challenge may be in limiting the potential options to a manageable set.
  • A planning process seeking to maintain remoteness in a broad area could consider options such as:
    • using different Crown land use designations, or categories of designation
    • different geographic locations
    • variations in the boundaries of specific proposals
    • different area-specific policies for the land use area(s)
  • When developing or analyzing options apply a broad frame of reference. MNRF is committed to an ecosystem approach to managing Ontario’s lands and natural resources, including consideration of landscape level planning and analysis. There are usually cultural heritage and economic values that are significant beyond the area being planned, so consider the broader frame of reference in developing and evaluating proposed policies.
  • The decisions and the reasons for the decisions should be documented when identifying options. It may be desirable to involve Indigenous communities, stakeholders or representatives in the development of options, or to carry out informal pre-consultation on options. This early involvement is particularly desirable where there are complex or potentially contentious land use proposals.
  • In complex or comprehensive planning processes involving a range of participants seeking to achieve a consensus outcome, the development of discrete options may not be desirable. Certain options may lead to a polarized process. As a result, in some cases it may be preferable to try to develop, through an iterative process, a scenario that has broad-based support. This type of consensus process can probably only occur when a small group is actively involved in the development of the scenario. The extensive dialogue that occurs in a smaller group allows the participants to develop an understanding of common interests.
  • The resolution of options also depends on the complexity and scale of the planning process. The smaller the area that is being planned, the more detailed the options are likely to be. It may be necessary to explain why specific potential approaches are not included. This explanation would identify which of the objectives or criteria were not met, leading to the option not being given further consideration.
  • Before land use options are released for broad public review, consideration should be given to whether interim protection is required. Interim protection policies can help ensure minimal changes to existing values and options during the period the land use proposals are being considered. Further guidance on interim protection is provided in Section 10.0.

3.3.6 Analyze and evaluate options – step six

  • Options identified at step five must be evaluated in order to identify a preferred option. The complexity of the evaluation process and the extent of the documentation can vary widely depending on the nature of the issue, the potential implications, the level of public interest, etc. Table 1 provides the general types of analysis and documentation recommended for basic versus complex and comprehensive projects. There is a considerable range in the type of evaluation that could be carried out even within a specific planning category. Both the evaluation processes and the documentation must be tailored to fit the project.
Table 1: Recommended evaluation and documentation by category of planning
Category of planningNature of evaluationEvaluation documentation
  • Because basic planning usually involves minor and relatively focused land use decisions, with few or no options, the evaluation of the specific proposal or options will be highly simplified.
  • Normally there will be no formal public involvement, or Indigenous community engagement or consultation, specifically related to the evaluation of options. The evaluation will be informed by any prior discussions or input. Public or Indigenous community input related to evaluation will normally happen as part of the discussion of the draft policies (step seven).
  • Most basic planning processes are responding to a small number of specific issues or meeting general planning needs, and the evaluation will focus on how well the issue is addressed, the extent to which the proposals are consistent with broader policies, and whether there are any additional implications.
  • The main documentation of the evaluation will be the rationale and analysis that is included in the land use amendment form, although occasionally supplementary documentation may be prepared.
Complex and comprehensive
  • These planning projects involve significant land use decisions that warrant detailed evaluation.
  • The evaluation should consider all of the potential evaluation topics listed below.
  • If there are proposals for substantial land use changes, particularly changes that would affect industrial or commercial activities, the application of socio-economic impact assessment techniques may be appropriate.
  • Normally there will be a stage of consultation that includes a discussion of options and MNRF’s evaluation of the options. This can occur as a separate stage of consultation, or it can be dealt with in conjunction with other topics such as background information, issues, or goals and objectives.
  • MNRF should make information about the evaluation available to the public. Public input may provide additional information or analysis that may lead to a revision of the evaluation.
  • Thorough documentation of the evaluation should be prepared, and it may also be desirable to prepare a summary.
  • The evaluation may be produced as a separate report or be integrated into overall project documentation.
  • The documentation should factually present the findings, without presenting the implications as either positive or negative.
  • Where there are challenging issues it can be helpful to carry out pre-consultation with key Indigenous communities or stakeholders prior to initiating the formal Indigenous community and public review of the options. Pre-consultation can provide input into the evaluation process, increase the understanding of the potential reaction to proposals, and identify proposals that may require revision, further consideration or clarification. Where there is consultation on options, other ministries with potential interests must be consulted.
  • The evaluation should help to answer the question – on balance, is this the right decision? Land use decisions should support the achievement of defined goals and objectives while having an acceptable level of impacts. Except in extremely complex situations, the evaluation methodology should be relatively straightforward. Complex evaluation processes can get bogged down in technical debates about the methodology, rather than focusing on the key implications and decisions.
  • Depending on the nature of the decision, the following factors or topics should be considered as part of the evaluation:
    • How well do the proposals/options address goals and objectives identified in the planning process? All proposals or options should be consistent with the goals and objectives, but some options may make a greater or lesser contribution to specific goals or objectives, and this assessment is an essential part of the evaluation.
    • Are the proposals consistent with legislation, existing plans, broader objectives or policies of MNRF or the Ontario Government, and Federal legislation? (Examples of broader provincial objectives or policies which may need to be considered in Crown land use planning include ecological sustainability, sustainable development, protection of biodiversity, support for renewable energy, support for regional economic development, support for Indigenous community economic opportunities, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigation of climate change impacts. These broader objectives may be embedded in the project-specific goals and objectives).
    • Do the proposals adequately consider the direction provided in MNRF’s Statement of Environmental Values (SEV)?
    • Do the proposals adequately consider any approved municipal land use plans or other relevant local plans, e.g., source water protection plans?
    • How well are issues resolved? (Potential issues may also be addressed through the project-specific goals and objectives)
    • What is the potential for positive and/or negative impacts (environmental, social, cultural heritage or economic) at the local and landscape levels?
    • What is the distribution of the impacts, and are there impacts on specific areas or sectors or groups that require consideration?
    • Are there potential impacts on Aboriginal or treaty rights?
    • Are there other projects with related impacts that need to be considered in order to assess potential cumulative effects?
    • If there are potential negative impacts, are there potential mitigation measures?
    • What are the short and/or long term cost implications, including potential fiscal implications for the province?
    • Can the proposal be implemented? (i.e., is an option technically, financially and administratively achievable?)
    • To what extent do the proposals have the support of other ministries, municipalities or planning boards, Indigenous communities, stakeholders, and the general public?
  • The selection of a preferred option normally involves the balanced review of a range of factors, but some of the factors are sufficiently significant that failure to adequately address a specific factor may result in the deletion or modification of an option.
  • Where there is Indigenous community engagement or consultation and/or public involvement at this stage, the input can help in evaluating a number of these factors.
  • For complex and comprehensive planning processes that include a formal evaluation step, it is usually desirable to prepare a summary of the findings of the evaluation. This should be made available to all participants.

3.3.7 Develop and review draft land use policies – step seven

  • After the development and evaluation of goals, objectives and options is completed, and any public input that may have been received (primarily in complex and comprehensive planning projects) has been analyzed, the draft land use policies can be prepared. In areas where there are existing land use policies, the focus should be on documenting the changes to existing policy in a form that will be readily integrated into CLUPA. This supports the implementation of a planning system that is maintained on an ongoing basis, rather than a system that infrequently carries out major new planning. A small number of planning processes may involve developing draft policies that will be incorporated into a new or updated land use plan.
  • Direction on the documentation of policies, particularly related to the use of policy reports, is provided in Section 9.0.

When developing draft land use policies, the policies and perspectives of other Ontario ministries must be considered. Where land use proposals may significantly affect the clients, policies or interests of another ministry, there must be information exchange and/or discussions prior to releasing the proposals to the public.

All proposed minor and major land use amendments and proposed land use plans will require appropriate public review and Indigenous community engagement or consultation, with an opportunity for the submission of comments.

  • The scope of public involvement and Indigenous community engagement should be defined in the original Terms of Reference, but this should be reviewed at this step to ensure it is still appropriate based on what has been learned through the planning process. Where no options have been identified, and the requirements of step six have not been considered separately, this step must include an evaluation of the potential implications of the draft land use policies. This evaluation should consider the thirteen factors that are outlined in step six, to the extent they are relevant. The evaluation should be summarized in the land use amendment form, although in some situations supplementary documentation may be warranted.

3.3.8 Develop recommended land use policies – step eight

  • All input on the draft land use amendment and/or draft land use plan must be carefully reviewed. In some cases, expressed concerns can be addressed by clarifying the intent or providing more detailed direction. Where the public input or the views of Indigenous communities indicate that there are significant disagreements with the content of the draft policies, an assessment should be made as to whether further broad involvement or more focused dialogue could help to identify more acceptable alternatives, while still achieving the goals of the planning process. There are a variety of techniques for issue resolution which may warrant consideration. Where the concerns relate to the underlying goals or objectives, not the means for achieving the goals, there may be limits to the extent to which consensus can be reached.
  • The recommended amendment and/or plan can be written after considering the input and should be drafted as it would read if it is approved. As outlined in Section 9.2, a separate plan must be accompanied by copies of the revised policy reports from CLUPA.
  • Indigenous community or public engagement and consultation on the draft policies or plan, other evaluation work, or other events such as a change in provincial policy, may result in significant changes to the draft land use policies. In this situation, consideration must be given to whether a revised draft should be released for further public review, or some other form of focused consultation should be carried out. Consideration should also be given to the need for further dialogue with other ministries.

3.3.9 Decide on policies and communicate decision – step nine

  • Based on the input and analysis, a decision will be made on the proposed land use policies. For all environmentally significant decisions, MNRF must consider MNRF’s SEV in making the decision. Possible decisions are to either approve or reject the amendment. Where the intention is to seek approval for the proposed policies, the level and extent of the approvals will depend on the nature of the project and the policies that are being proposed. Direction on the required approvals is provided in Section 5.0.
  • Once a decision has been reached, for planning processes where a proposal notice has been posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, a decision notice must be posted. The decision notice would provide a link to the approved land use amendment, and to a land use plan where one has been prepared or amended. The information in CLUPA must be updated.
  • Making information about planning decisions available to participants in the process is essential, including interested or affected Indigenous communities, the public, and stakeholders.
  • Additional communication options should also be considered. If an advisory or stakeholder committee is being used, then it is desirable to have direct discussions with the members. In planning initiatives that have a smaller number of participants MNRF should provide, where feasible, feedback (hardcopy or electronic) to all participants, through individual responses or a form response/newsletter. Where a form response is being used, material from an Environmental Registry decision notice related to how public input was considered could be the primary source of the content. Other possible approaches for the distribution of information include one or more of:
    • a media release
    • newspaper advertisement
    • notice posted at a site,
    • website update
    • open house
    • release of a final report
  • Comments from other ministries should be solicited directly. It is desirable to directly communicate to ministries that have provided input, or comments, how their concerns have been addressed in the process.
  • In addition to external communication, MNRF employees and affected staff of other ministries should be made aware of the approved policies and any associated commitments. In some situations, it may be desirable to carry out formal transfer activities to ensure that staff who will be implementing the land use policies, or who may need to explain the policies, fully understand them.

3.3.10 Close out the project – step ten

  • Upon completion of the planning process it is important to allow the time and resources necessary for project closeout. For basic planning processes this will usually involve ensuring that all the necessary documentation is completed, and the material is filed appropriately in paper and/or electronic form. For complex or comprehensive projects this phase will likely include tasks such as:
    • ensure project records are completed, collected and archived
    • document the rationale for planning decisions, so that it can be considered if similar issues arise in the future
    • identify lessons learned. For highly significant projects it may be desirable to do a more formal documentation of lessons learned that can be shared widely

3.3.11 Implementation

Land use decisions are implemented through a variety of actions. In some cases, the only implementation action is ensuring that the decisions are appropriately documented in CLUPA, and also sometimes in a separate plan. In other cases, the land use decisions provide the basis for more detailed land use or resource management planning, or for other implementation actions such as regulating a Recommended Provincial Park or Recommended Conservation Reserve.

There are often several formal approvals that must be obtained before land use decisions, or specific facilities or activities that are permitted by the land use decisions, can be fully implemented. Many of these approvals are independent of Crown land use planning. These approvals or reviews may be necessary to meet the requirements of MNRF-administered legislation or policy, or other legislation or policy.

In implementing the policies for Crown land use designations, consideration needs to be given to pre-existing commitments. Subject to meeting all other necessary requirements, MNRF will complete actions where a commitment has been established prior to the date that interim protection was applied or, in the case of designations where interim protection is not normally applied, the date that the land use document was approved.

Examples of the types of actions that are referred to in the standard are commitments to sell land or allow the construction of a road.

Consideration should be given to how other participants in planning processes can participate in implementation. In a few very significant situations, it may be appropriate to establish a committee that will have an ongoing role in providing advice related to implementation and/or keeping planning policies up to date. However, there are likely to be a very limited number of situations where this is both desirable and practical.

Plans on their own do not initiate specific types of management actions. These actions typically require the allocation of human or financial resources that occur through other processes. As an example, a land use plan can identify areas where a new Provincial Park or Conservation Reserve should be established, but the process that establishes the area under a regulation, and the subsequent planning and management of the area, are not part of Crown land use planning. Because of the different processes that are involved, implementation schedules should not be included in land use plans, although implementation strategies are appropriate.

3.3.12 Monitoring and evaluation

Many planning processes, particularly those classified as complex or comprehensive, warrant subsequent evaluation of the planning process, and monitoring of plan implementation. This information and analysis supports an adaptive resource management system. Through such an adaptive system MNRF, other agencies, and the public can evaluate outcomes and determine what adjustments are necessary to plan policies.

The monitoring and evaluation of individual planning processes can examine the planning process and the outcomes and seek to answer a variety of questions.

Questions that could be asked in the short-term include:

  • Did the planning process follow defined requirements?
  • Was the planning process effective?
  • What lessons were learned that could potentially be applied to other planning processes, and how could these lessons be best shared?

Questions that should be considered in the longer-term include:

  • Were the policies implemented, and was the direction specified in the policies followed?
  • If the land use policies were implemented, did they lead to the desired outcomes?
  • What other outcomes resulted from the implementation of the policies, including unanticipated outcomes?

3.3.13 Assessment and review

Assessments should be carried out periodically to determine whether the land use policies that were adopted are still appropriate, or whether a review and re-examination is required. These assessments may occur because of a commitment in a plan, an ongoing periodic re-examination, or requests for a review or revision of policies from an Indigenous community(s) or the public. In some situations, it may be apparent that a review of policies is necessary, but even in this situation an assessment should be carried out to examine the appropriate scope of the review. Reviews should not be carried out just because a fixed time interval has passed.

The assessment could consider the policies for an individual area, a group of land use areas that are in a single geographic area or planning unit, or areas of a specific designation or category. The assessment will consider the results of any monitoring and evaluation that has been carried out. Where the assessment is responding to an earlier commitment to periodically assess the need to review a plan, and MNRF does not believe that a review at the specific time interval is warranted, MNRF should provide the public with information on the rationale for not carrying out the review.

The assessment may determine that no review is necessary, that a scoped review is appropriate, or that a review of applicable policies should be carried out. If it is determined that a review is necessary, the planning processes outlined in the Guide must be applied. General guidance on updating land use policies is provided in Section 5.2.