In the face of mounting criticism of the Ontario Municipal Board from residents, municipal governments and the development industry, the Ontario government has announced a review of the OMB.
Among other duties, the OMB rules on planning applications that have been appealed to the board, including where an elected local city council has turned down an application for an Official Plan or a Zoning Bylaw amendment. A single OMB officer decides on an application, and can make a different decision than the elected council.
Town hall meetings will take place across the province, with a deadline for feedback Dec. 19. The closest town hall meetings for Burlington residents are Oakville Nov. 3, Toronto Nov. 15 and Mississauga Nov. 17.
Matters to be discussed during the review include:
- OMB’s jurisdiction and powers
- citizen participation and local perspective
- clear and predictable decision-making
- modern procedures and faster decisions
- alternative dispute resolution and fewer hearings
How you can participate:
- Submit or upload your comments and feedback using an online webform
- Attend a town hall meeting in your area
- Submit comments through the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry at Ontario.ca/EBR. Search for OMB Review, 2016. Notice #012-7196
- Email: OMBReview@ontario.ca
- Call: 1-855-776-8011
- Mail a submission to:
Ontario Municipal Board Review
Ministry of Municipal Affairs
Provincial Planning Policy Branch
777 Bay Street (13th floor)
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5
My Take: I welcome the review, and support limiting the jurisdiction of the OMB to matters of law or due process. There should be no right of appeal simply because of disagreement with a local council’s decision.
The process is time-consuming, expensive, and duplicates the planning analysis already completed by a local municipality’s planning staff. When a file gets to the board, the review of an application begins again. An unelected OMB officer can override the decision of an elected council.
Residents have said they are unable to effectively participate in an OMB hearing because they don’t have the deep pockets to pay lawyers and experts. Instead, residents would like to work with their elected representatives to get the best planning outcomes for their cities. If there is disagreement with a council’s decision, there is remedy at the ballot box – a fair, equitable and open system that everyone can participate in regardless of financial resources.
Further, the province already approves the Official Plans and Zoning Bylaws of local governments; we should not have to spend millions in taxpayers dollars defending these approved plans at the OMB.
I will be attending the Nov. 3 town hall meeting in Oakville to discuss limiting the OMB’s jurisdiction and powers.