03/05/2015 02:19 EST | Updated 05/05/2015 05:59 EDT

Government proposes giving residents greater say in how communities grow

TORONTO - The province is proposing reforms it says would give residents a greater say in how their communities grow.

The government says proposed changes to the Planning Act and the Development Charges Act would also provide more opportunities to fund community services like transit and recycling.

Changes to the Planning Act, if passed, would ensure residents are better consulted once planning starts for new developments and would encourage feedback on the future of their communities.

There would also be ways to help municipalities resolve potential planning disputes earlier — reducing involvement of the Ontario Municipal Board in local disputes — and to extend the review of new municipal official plans to 10 years, instead of the current five.

The province says changes to the Development Charges Act would help municipalities recover costs for transit services and waste diversion.

There would also be clear reporting requirements for capital projects financed by municipalities through development charges.

The government says the proposed amendments are based on input from across Ontario, including more than 20 public workshops and stakeholder meetings, as well as mailed in and electronic submissions.

"Ontarians deserve a predictable, fair and transparent system guiding how their communities will grow," said Ted McMeekin, minister of municipal affairs and housing.

"These proposals empower our cities and towns to better determine how neighbourhoods are shaped."