City Council has approved my motion to establish a Local Appeals Body to hear all appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions. Currently, these appeals are heard by the developer-friendly Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
As you may know, the OMB – an un-elected, provincially-appointed body – has the final say on all planning issues. Ontario is the only province that has this system which over-rides decisions of the elected municipal councils.
Additional reports will be coming to Council after the election regarding some details of the new body, but a firm date for its start-up has been set. The new body will hear all Committee of Adjustment appeals made after September 1, 2015.
Currently, we have many instances where a C of A decision in support of the community will be appealed by a builder or developer. Even when the city’s planning staff support the community, the OMB has sided with the builder more often than not. This has created some very bad precedents – so that a bad decision on one street can lead to the same thing happening many blocks away.
This needs to stop.
The appeals body will be entirely independent, but Council will have the opportunity to choose members who will objectively evaluate decisions according to the four tests contained in the Planning Act.
I feel this is the most important reform of the planning system that I have initiated during this term of office.