The Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 is issued under section 3 of the Planning Act. It is effective April 30, 2014 and applies to planning decisions made on or after that date. It replaces the Provincial Policy Statement, 2005.

Email us for a copy of earlier versions of the Provincial Policy Statement.

The Provincial Policy Statement applies province-wide. Its policies set out the government’s land use vision for how we settle our landscape, create our built environment, and manage our land and resources over the long term to achieve livable and resilient communities.

Part I: Preamble

The Provincial Policy Statement provides policy direction on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development. As a key part of Ontario’s policy-led planning system, the Provincial Policy Statement sets the policy foundation for regulating the development and use of land. It also supports the provincial goal to enhance the quality of life for all Ontarians.

The Provincial Policy Statement provides for appropriate development while protecting resources of provincial interest, public health and safety, and the quality of the natural and built environment. The Provincial Policy Statement supports improved land use planning and management, which contributes to a more effective and efficient land use planning system.

The policies of the Provincial Policy Statement may be complemented by provincial plans or by locally-generated policies regarding matters of municipal interest. Provincial plans and municipal official plans provide a framework for comprehensive, integrated, place-based and long-term planning that supports and integrates the principles of strong communities, a clean and healthy environment and economic growth, for the long term.

Land use planning is only one of the tools for implementing provincial interests. A wide range of legislation, regulations, policies and programs may also affect planning matters, and assist in implementing these interests.

Part II: Legislative authority

The Provincial Policy Statement is issued under the authority of section 3 of the Planning Act and came into effect on April 30, 2014.

In respect of the exercise of any authority that affects a planning matter, section 3 of the Planning Act requires that decisions affecting planning matters “shall be consistent with” policy statements issued under the Act.

Part III: How to read the Provincial Policy Statement

The provincial policy-led planning system recognizes and addresses the complex inter-relationships among environmental, economic and social factors in land use planning. The Provincial Policy Statement supports a comprehensive, integrated and long-term approach to planning, and recognizes linkages among policy areas.

Read the entire Provincial Policy Statement

The Provincial Policy Statement is more than a set of individual policies. It is to be read in its entirety and the relevant policies are to be applied to each situation. When more than one policy is relevant, a decision-maker should consider all of the relevant policies to understand how they work together. The language of each policy, including the Implementation and Interpretation policies, will assist decision-makers in understanding how the policies are to be implemented.

While specific policies sometimes refer to other policies for ease of use, these cross-references do not take away from the need to read the Provincial Policy Statement as a whole.

There is no implied priority in the order in which the policies appear.

Consider specific policy language

When applying the Provincial Policy Statement it is important to consider the specific language of the policies. Each policy provides direction on how it is to be implemented, how it is situated within the broader Provincial Policy Statement, and how it relates to other policies.

Some policies set out positive directives, such as “settlement areas shall be the focus of growth and development.” Other policies set out limitations and prohibitions, such as “development and site alteration shall not be permitted.” Other policies use enabling or supportive language, such as “should,” “promote” and “encourage.”

The choice of language is intended to distinguish between the types of policies and the nature of implementation. There is some discretion when applying a policy with enabling or supportive language in contrast to a policy with a directive, limitation or prohibition.

Geographic scale of policies

The Provincial Policy Statement recognizes the diversity of Ontario and that local context is important. Policies are outcome-oriented, and some policies provide flexibility in their implementation provided that provincial interests are upheld.

While the Provincial Policy Statement is to be read as a whole, not all policies will be applicable to every site, feature or area. The Provincial Policy Statement applies at a range of geographic scales.

Some of the policies refer to specific areas or features and can only be applied where these features or areas exist. Other policies refer to planning objectives that need to be considered in the context of the municipality or planning area as a whole, and are not necessarily applicable to a specific site or development proposal.

Policies represent minimum standards

The policies of the Provincial Policy Statement represent minimum standards.

Within the framework of the provincial policy-led planning system, planning authorities and decision-makers may go beyond these minimum standards to address matters of importance to a specific community, unless doing so would conflict with any policy of the Provincial Policy Statement.

Defined terms and meanings

Except for references to legislation which are italicized, other italicized terms in the Provincial Policy Statement are defined in the Definitions section. For non-italicized terms, the normal meaning of the word applies. Terms may be italicized only in specific policies; for these terms, the defined meaning applies where they are italicized and the normal meaning applies where they are not italicized. Defined terms in the Definitions section are intended to capture both singular and plural forms of these terms in the policies.

Guidance material

Guidance material and technical criteria may be issued from time to time to assist planning authorities and decision-makers with implementing the policies of the Provincial Policy Statement. Information, technical criteria and approaches outlined in guidance material are meant to support but not add to or detract from the policies of the Provincial Policy Statement.

Relationship with provincial plans

Provincial plans, such as the Greenbelt Plan, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, build upon the policy foundation provided by the Provincial Policy Statement. They provide land use planning policies to address issues facing specific geographic areas in Ontario.

Provincial plans are to be read in conjunction with the Provincial Policy Statement. They take precedence over the policies of the Provincial Policy Statement to the extent of any conflict, except where the relevant legislation provides otherwise. Land use planning decisions made by municipalities, planning boards, the Province, or a commission or agency of the government must be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement. Where provincial plans are in effect, planning decisions must conform or not conflict with them, as the case may be.

Part IV: Vision for Ontario’s land use planning system

The long-term prosperity and social well-being of Ontario depends upon planning for strong, sustainable and resilient communities for people of all ages, a clean and healthy environment, and a strong and competitive economy.

Ontario is a vast province with diverse urban, rural and northern communities which may face different challenges related to diversity in population, economic activity, pace of growth and physical and natural conditions. Some areas face challenges related to maintaining population and diversifying their economy, while other areas face challenges related to accommodating and managing the development and population growth which is occurring, while protecting important resources and the quality of the natural environment.

Ontario’s rich cultural diversity is one of its distinctive and defining features. The Provincial Policy Statement reflects Ontario’s diversity, which includes the histories and cultures of Aboriginal peoples, and is based on good land use planning principles that apply in communities across Ontario. The Province recognizes the importance of consulting with Aboriginal communities on planning matters that may affect their rights and interests.

The Provincial Policy Statement focuses growth and development within urban and rural settlement areas while supporting the viability of rural areas. It recognizes that the wise management of land use change may involve directing, promoting or sustaining development. Land use must be carefully managed to accommodate appropriate development to meet the full range of current and future needs, while achieving efficient development patterns and avoiding significant or sensitive resources and areas which may pose a risk to public health and safety.

Efficient development patterns optimize the use of land, resources and public investment in infrastructure and public service facilities. These land use patterns promote a mix of housing, including affordable housing, employment, recreation, parks and open spaces, and transportation choices that increase the use of active transportation and transit before other modes of travel. They also support the financial well-being of the Province and municipalities over the long term, and minimize the undesirable effects of development, including impacts on air, water and other resources. Strong, liveable and healthy communities promote and enhance human health and social well-being, are economically and environmentally sound, and are resilient to climate change.

The Province’s natural heritage resources, water resources, including the Great Lakes, agricultural resources, mineral resources, and cultural heritage and archaeological resources provide important environmental, economic and social benefits. The wise use and management of these resources over the long term is a key provincial interest. The Province must ensure that its resources are managed in a sustainable way to conserve biodiversity, protect essential ecological processes and public health and safety, provide for the production of food and fibre, minimize environmental and social impacts, and meet its long-term needs.

It is equally important to protect the overall health and safety of the population. The Provincial Policy Statement directs development away from areas of natural and human-made hazards. This preventative approach supports provincial and municipal financial well-being over the long term, protects public health and safety, and minimizes cost, risk and social disruption.

Taking action to conserve land and resources avoids the need for costly remedial measures to correct problems and supports economic and environmental principles.

Strong communities, a clean and healthy environment and a strong economy are inextricably linked. Long-term prosperity, human and environmental health and social well-being should take precedence over short-term considerations.

The fundamental principles set out in the Provincial Policy Statement apply throughout Ontario. To support our collective well-being, now and in the future, all land use must be well managed.