To: Warden Mitch Twolan
Members of the Planning and Development Committee
From: Chris LaForest
Director of Planning
Date: November 17, 2016
Re:Review of the Ontario Municipal Board
The Review of the Ontario Municipal Board Report is for information; and, that the Committee direct staff to submit this Report as the County of Bruce comments regarding proposed changes stemming from the Ontario Municipal Board Review.
“The Province of Ontario believes that Ontarians deserve well-planned sustainable, vibrant communities; and, have recently undertaken reviews of its land use plans and the land use planning system. The Ontario government also sees a continuing need for the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in Ontario’s land use planning system to resolve some land use disputes, on the basis that not having an OMB would result in more appeals to the courts. Tribunals can support an efficient process - they are designed to be faster and less costly than the courts, and their members are subject matter experts.
The government will consider the OMB’s scope (what it deals with) and effectiveness (how it operates) to determine improvements with respect to how the Board works within Ontario’s broader land use planning system.”
To help focus discussion the Province has set out in a public consultation document entitled the ‘Review of the Ontario Municipal Board (October 2016), available on-line at http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page15027.aspx , or https://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTI4MTcw&statusId=MTkzN zM0&language=en , a number of ideas about the types of changes that could be made including: •“Allowing for more meaningful and less costly resident participation
•Giving more weight to local decisions and allowing alternative ways to settle disputes •Bringing fewer municipal and provincial decision to the OMB
•Supporting clearer and more predictable decision-making.”
The document is designed to support the review and provides context, direction and background on Ontario’s land use planning system and on the OMB. It sets out possible changes to improve on the OMB’s role within the system and has been organized under five key themes. The document raises questions for consideration. Each theme is divided into four subsections: what we’ve heard, what we’ve done, changes we’re considering, and discussion questions.
The five themes and the proposed changes being considered are:
1.OMB’s Jurisdiction and PowersComments
a.Protect public interest for the future, by
i.specifying parts of an Official Plan that are not subject to appeal,
ii.limit appeals on matters of public interest,
iii.moving approval authority to amend a Minister’s Zoning Order to the Minister (and not the OMB).Unnecessary – the current system is working satisfactorily. This seems to be counter-current to efforts to improve public participation, transparency and accountability.
b.Bring transit to more people by restricting appeals of development that supports the use of transit?Supported
c.Give communities a stronger voice?Supported.
d.Move away from “De novo” (from the beginning) hearings and going beyond the current practice of ‘having regard’ for local decisions. This would limit the OMB’s authority only if the decision does not follow local or provincial plans.Could obligate greater municipal participation at hearings – increasing costs, even when the municipality has little interest in the outcome.
e.Transition and use of new planning rules by making decisions based on the most up-to-date planning documents; rather than, those that were in place at the time the process was started.Municipalities, Planners and developers would be forced to plan development on the fly and according to moving targets.
2.Citizen participation and local perspective
a.The government is considering expanding the Citizen Liaison Office to perhaps include in-house planning experts and lawyers who would be available to the public, or Duplication. Municipal Planners are already bound by their Code of Ethics to provide objective opinion/advice to the Public and Councils – potential increased cost to taxpayers.
b.Explore funding tools to help citizens retain their own planning experts and/or lawyers.Controversial applications make up a small fraction of ttotal applications. Increased cost to taxpayers with relatively few benefitting. Also see part a), above.
3.Clear and predictable decision-making
a.Multi-member panels to conduct complex hearings; or, all hearings.Decision making is not a significant problem. While multi-member panels may be beneficial in complex files, the OMB is doing a good job overall with single member adjudication.
4.Modern procedures and faster decisions
a.Allow the OMB to adopt less complex and more accessible tribunal proceduresSupported.
b.Allow active adjudicationSupported.
c.Modernize procedures and promote faster decisions, by: _____
i.Setting appropriate timelines for decisions
ii.Increasing flexibility for how evidence can be heard,Clarification of what is meant in this point, is needed.
Currently, not recommended.
iii.Conducting more hearings in writing in appropriate cases,Supported
iv.Establishing clear rules for issues lists to ensure that hearings are focused and conducted in the most cost-effective and efficient way possibleSupported
v.Introducing maximum days allowed for hearings.More information is required for this point. If this would have the effect of limiting the giving of evidence, or cross-examination, or cause a case to then be moved to Divisional Court when an arbitrary time period expires, the outcome would be undesirable.
Currently, not recommended.
5.Alternative dispute resolution and fewer hearingsComments
a.More actively promoting mediationSupported. Expediting resolution of disputes or reducing
costs is a desirable outcome.
b.Requiring all appeals to be considered by a mediator before scheduling a hearingSupported.
See above, provided that it does not delay scheduling of a hearing.
c.Allowing government mediators to be available at all times during an application process, including before an application arrives at municipal council, to help reduce the number of appeals that go to the OMB.Generally unnecessary, in vast majority of applications; but may be helpful in controversial situations.
However, if used with the Public it could be seen as an attempt to stifle open participation. Currently, not recommended.
d.Strengthening the case management at the OMB to better stream, scope issues in dispute, and identify areas that can be resolved at pre-hearing and to further support OMB members during hearings
Creating timelines and targets for scheduling cases, including mediation.Supported.
[Original Comment ID: 205304]
Submitted January 24, 2018 2:44 PM