The provincial government has announced that it intends to replace the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) with a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal which will be required to give much more weight to the decisions of local municipal councils. Under the proposed system, the Tribunal would evaluate appeals by whether the City had followed its own planning rules in the initial decision. The set of proposals, if implemented, would put planning back in the hands of your local elected councils, which John believes is very good news.
This legislation, part of Bill 139, passed first reading at Queen’s Park on May 30, but it remains unclear when these new rules, if approved, would take effect. Meanwhile, developers are attempting to avoid the new rules by rushing in applications and appealing to the OMB as quickly as possible. The OMB is currently dealing with at least 10 Willowdale appeals which, if approved, would overturn city policies and set terrible precedents for future development. For example, in June, the OMB approved a townhouse development on Altamont Road, outside of any redevelopment area. This decision, which cited the Provincial Growth Plan, threatens the neighbourhood protections which the City put into its Official Plan.
If the Province is serious about reform, it needs to pass the new legislation as quickly as possible and make it as retroactive as possible. The OMB was already replaced by the Toronto Local Appeal Body for Committee of Adjustment decisions earlier this year.