Government Releases Proposed OMB Reforms

Today the Ministry of Municipal Affairs announced its proposed reforms the province’s land use planning appeals system and the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The government will introduce new legislation within the next several weeks that would replace the OMB with a new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. The new tribunal would be structured to give greater weight to the decisions made by local communities than is currently the case under the OMB. Specific reforms would include:

  • Eliminating “de novo” hearings from the majority of planning appeals
  • Giving local appeal bodies more authority
  • Requiring the tribunal to conduct mandatory case management for the majority of cases and providing the tribunal with modern case management powers
  • Creating statutory rules regarding the conduct of hearings, including setting strict presumptive timelines for oral hearings and limiting evidence in the majority of cases to written materials
  • Providing the tribunal with modern hearing powers to promote active adjudication
  • Providing alternative hearing formats and assignment of multi-member panels
  • Giving elected officials greater control over local planning
  • Providing ordinary Ontarians with more general information about land use planning and offering guidance to citizens about the tribunal appeal and hearing process
  • Providing legal and planning advice at different stages of the tribunal process, including representation in certain cases at case conferences and hearings
  • For complex land use planning appeals, the tribunal would only be able to overturn a municipal decision if it does not follow provincial policies or municipal plans. This would depart from the current “standard of review” for land use planning appeals, where the Ontario Municipal Board is permitted to overturn a municipal decision whenever it finds that the municipality did not reach the “best” planning decision
  • In these cases, the tribunal would be required to return the matter to the municipality with written reasons when it overturns a decision, instead of replacing the municipality’s decision with its own. The municipality would be provided with 90 days to make a new decision on an application under the proposed new law
  • The tribunal would retain the authority to make a final decision on these matters only when, on a second appeal, the municipality’s subsequent decision still fails to follow provincial policies or municipal plans

The reforms would also make the following matters no longer appealable:

  • Provincial approvals of official plans and official plan updates, including approvals of conformity exercises to provincial plans
  • Minister’s Zoning Orders

The appeals process under the proposed system would proceed as follows:

OMB

For more:

Backgrounder: Ontario’s Proposed Changes to the Land Use Planning Appeal System 

 

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