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Published on Friday, July 14, 2017

Oakville Beaver Editorial: Levelling the playing field

Oakville newspaper supports OMB reforms

Oakville Beaver Editorial: Levelling the playing field
Local paper supports OMB reforms
Opinion by The Oakville Beaver

When the main beneficiaries of an uneven playing field start complaining that proposed reforms to that process will hurt their industry, then you know something is being done right.

Ontario’s development industry is voicing its opposition to the government’s proposed reforms of the controversial Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) arguing it will entrench “not-in-my-backyard” attitudes, stifle development and increase the already limited housing stock.

Those sentiments ring hollow after more than a decade where developers have had what seems to be a clear path to building whatever they want despite opposition by municipalities and local residents. Any decisions by municipalities had become so difficult that in some instances councillors were “planning by OMB.”

But the Province has introduced a proposed overhaul of the authority to actually establish an appeals board that will listen to both parties.

The proposals would rename the board the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

The idea is that any appeal of a planning decision by municipalities would be based upon whether a project meets provincial policies and the municipality’s Official Plan.

It would eliminate the idea that a developer — or, in some cases, residents — can re-debate the planning decision at the board.

The reforms would also prohibit any appeals of a municipality’s Official Plan.

Other much-needed changes include eliminating lengthy court-like hearings by establishing strict deadlines and rules for the tribunal instead of the ad hoc methods used by some chairs.

Of greater interest to community groups, the Province would create a public support centre to level the playing field if an individual appeals a decision by the municipality.

Too often the contest is a David vs. Goliath fight where the developer (and sometimes the municipality) has all the financial and planning resources, while individuals are left fishing around for help.

The proposed reforms to what has become a powerful, non-elected body that makes critical planning decisions that supersede the will of the municipality are desperately needed.

If the Liberals’ final reform is anywhere near what they are proposing, a stripped-down, accountable appeals board would allow municipalities and residents some level of comfort to defend their communities based on proper planning principles and not at the whim of a development industry.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

Categories: News, Opinion

Tags: Ontario Municipal Board

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