As you may know, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is currently under review for changes. This week, council reviewed the report and a motion passed (as presented by Councillor Harder) to amend Council’s position on the changes.
The amendment reads
“The Province provide clear direction or binding interpretations with respect to the phrase “shall have regard to” as set out in the Planning Act so that it can be applied consistently across all OMB decisions and that this interpretation be incorporated into the OMB’s Rules of Practice and Procedure;”
With the passing of this motion, Council has agreed to “strongly endorse the initiatives being considered by the Province for expanding the Province’s Community Liaison Office and providing funding supports to citizens to retain their own planning experts and/or lawyers and encourage the Province to move forward with the implementation of these.”
Although I did not vote in favour of this motion, I did cast my support for Councillor Nussbaum’s motion to amend Councillor Harder’s recommendation to include: “The Province also require the OMB to review Municipal Council decisions on a standard of reasonableness.” I felt that by adding Councillor Nussbaum’s motion, it would make the City report even stronger. In the end however, the Leiper/Nussbaum motion did not pass and I did support the report to go forward.
The Community of Stittsville has had applications go to the OMB more times than I would have wished. I am very pleased that this review is being taken as I believe that with the changing of the times, the OMB should adapt to the changes we are seeing in the development process.
I think it is very important to have direct community involvement in OMB hearings and there is the need to expand on the existing support that is provided to residents looking for advice on an appeal. While I know some residents have used the OMB staff for support on appeals, I find this resource is not well known and there is limited support that is currently provided by the OMB.
I do think it is important that there is a mechanism to appeal an OMB decision, even by a request for an appeal hearing still brought forward to the OMB. It is also very important that any new information brought forward at an OMB appeal be brought back to Council for consideration.
Earlier in November, a Public Town Hall meeting was held to discuss the Board’s role in the land use planning process. However, it is not too late to share your thoughts. Residents are invited to continue to submit their written comments and feedback on OMB reform by December 19, 2016.
If you have any further questions about the Review or the upcoming regional town hall sessions, I encourage residents to email OMBReview@ontario.ca or call 1-855-776-8011.
Further information about the OMB Review is available online at ontario.ca/OMBReview.