Less powerful tribunal to replace OMB

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The controversial Ontario Municipal Board has been the bane of city planners who have had their recommendations overturned by the OMB after developers or aggrieved parties have turned to the OMB. Now all that could change.

The province has announced major changes to how disputes between developers, residents and governments over planning and development issues are adjudicated in Ontario.

Government officials say the Ontario Municipal Board will be replaced by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, which will have less power.

Under new reforms, the tribunal will only make decisions on whether or not a municipality has followed its planning process and land use plans. If it hasn’t, the issue will be sent back to the municipality for reconsideration.

This will result in fewer municipal decisions being overturned than under the current process, in which each dispute is treated as if it were new, disregarding the decision the local government has made.

The reforms also include giving information and support to residents who want to appeal a municipal decision.

Other changes include prohibiting appeals of municipalities’ development plans around major transit hubs.

That is really a step in the right direction. As cities evolve, there is a need to develop previously low-density developments with high-density developments. City planning includes designs to promote walkability which may be fought by residents who don’t much care for change. In recent years there are many examples of change being successfully resisted even as the city struggles to create affordable housing, transit and reduce traffic congestion. -CINEWS

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