On March 21st, the Minister of Municipal Affairs presented to the National Assembly of Quebec Bill 16, entitled “An Act to amend the Act respecting land use planning and development and other provisions” (the “Bill”). The Bill is presented in the wake of the National Policy on Architecture and Land Use Planning unveiled in June 2022, which aimed, among other things, to develop a strategic vision to guide collective action in the field of architecture and land use planning in Quebec.
Through the proposed amendments, the Bill aims, in particular, to establish a land use monitoring system, to modernize the content of territorial planning documents, and to facilitate the densification of Quebecers’ living environments, while updating land use planning practices to address current challenges such as climate change and access to housing.
The main themes of the modifications proposed by the Bill are the following:
- Modernize the Act respecting land use planning and development and territorial planning;
- Accelerate application in the field;
- Simplify procedures, particularly with regard to the revision of development documents;
- Optimize the urbanized territory;
- Protect water and natural environments;
- Increase the supply of housing;
- Protect property and people;
- Streamline public consultation processes;
- Facilitate projects of public interest and reinforce the exemplarity of the State.
Among the interesting measures proposed by the Bill, it is important to note the proposal that would allow the council of a municipality, with an urban planning advisory committee, the possibility to adopt an incentive zoning by-law. This measure would enhance the municipalities’ land use planning powers, allowing them to soften zoning restrictions (e.g., limitations on the number of floors of residential construction projects for a given zone) in exchange for certain public interest commitments (e.g., the inclusion of affordable housing).
In short, the Bill represents the government’s first step in implementing the ambitions expressed in its National Policy on Architecture and Land Use Planning. The Bill is currently in the consultation stages. It is expected that many stakeholders will want to be involved in the discussions surrounding the Bill given the importance of the reform it seeks to implement.