~ W. Somerset Maugham
The need for speed, combined with some fuzzy thinking, also meant that many important “details” of the changes had to wait for a later day. Ironically for a government that should be ideologically averse to greater regulation, many — too many — of the changes have been effectively pushed off onto implementing regulations that will come sometime later this year. Bill 108, if you haven’t noticed, enables a truly staggering number of regulations, including this jaw-dropper: “prescribing or otherwise providing for anything that is required or permitted under this Act to be prescribed or otherwise provided for in the regulations, including governing anything required or permitted to be done in accordance with the regulations.” 
Before moving on to the most significant change in the bill … here are things I do like in the proposals:
- Notice to owners of listed properties — listing acquired legal implications when the 90 day notice period was added in 2006; it is reasonable then to require notice, a best practice recommended by the Toolkit and already followed by most municipalities. Problem though: As proposed, objections to listing are open-ended allowing any current/future owners to object and spur a review at any time.
- Alteration appeals to LPAT — this overdue change recognizes that many “alterations”, like those in façadism redevelopments, involve major, significant changes to designated property more akin to demolition/removal. Sending appeals to LPAT is also consistent with alteration appeals in heritage conservation districts.
- Complete application timelines — these are modelled on recent changes to procedures in the Planning Act and should, if the details are right, help expedite the heritage approvals process.
- Timelines for Part IV designations — the introduction of some time limit for designation is appropriate in situations where the property is the subject of planning applications. Problem though: Pushing the definition of “prescribed events” off to the regulations seems lazy and will just add perplexity to a process that is complicated enough. It is clear this proposal has not been adequately thought through; for instance, is 90 days appropriate for all “events”?
The really big reform here is the change to the appeal process for Part IV designations. Instead of review of a proposed designation by the Conservation Review Board, we’ll have a binding appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. Local councils will no longer have the last word on a) what constitutes a cultural heritage property of value to the community, and b) the recognition and protection of that resource.
- we have one statute with two kinds of appeals (review and final/binding) and two appeal bodies (CRB and LPAT)
- the development industry wants one kind of each
- the Planning Act has one kind of each
- district designation under Part V of the OHA has one kind of each
- so, based on consistency, efficiency and fairness to property owners, let’s have just one kind of each in Part IV too — by ditching the current CRB process and sending designation appeals to the LPAT for a binding result.
- The current CRB review process has served Ontario well since 1975.
- The CRB has never been busier, putting the lie to the claim that owners don’t bother with it because it can’t provide a binding result.
- Respecting local autonomy and democratic decision-making, the CRB process works through persuasion — and in almost all cases (whether to designate or not to designate) the municipal council follows the Board’s recommendations. 
- The CRB is a special purpose tribunal; its near-single focus on designation has made it the de facto expert on the interpretation and application of the criteria for designation in O. Reg. 9/06. This expertise resides with current CRB members and will be lost or hopelessly diluted in LPAT members, however well-intentioned.
- The CRB has a stellar record in resolving designation disputes at the pre-hearing stage; it is less formal, less expensive for the parties, and deals with matters more expeditiously compared to the LPAT.
- The Planning Act measures that are often compared to designation don’t work the same way — Official Plan policies and zoning by-laws are prescriptive (you can do this, you can’t do that) while designation is permissive (you can do anything if you get the okay). This means that the true comparators to planning controls are alteration and demolition control powers under sections 33 and 34, both of which, as proposed in Bill 108, include appeals to the LPAT.
- The Part V consistency argument also doesn't hold up. A review of appeals of HCDs to the LPAT shows that appeals are not on the merits of the designation as a whole but focus on the district’s boundaries, provisions of the HCD plan and other details.
- The development industry concerns about delays and non-binding decisions are already being largely addressed through proposed new time limits on designation and changes to alteration appeals.
- In situations that also involve planning appeals the CRB has made concerted efforts to co-ordinate with the LPAT to avoid undue delays. Has anyone looked closely at how this is working and what other adjustments might be made?
- In short, if it ain’t broke …