OMB Review

Unfortunately, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) plays an influential role in our City’s planning process and the development of Ward 25 communities. From the unprecedented intensification at Yonge and Eglinton to the transformation of Bayview Avenue, every single neighbourhood in Ward 25 has been impacted by the OMB.

The OMB is a provincially appointed, quasi-judicial administrative tribunal that hears planning appeals from the municipal level. When an application is appealed to the OMB, it’s the OMB – not the City of Toronto – that decides whether or how the application is approved.

Since I became your local Councillor in 2010, nearly every major development application has been appealed to the OMB, representing over 3,800 units, 330 storeys and 300,000 square meters of residential development in Ward 25 alone.

In approximately 80% of these cases, the proposal was appealed to the OMB before the City issued a decision on the application.

Over the past six years, I’ve voted with City Council four times to ask the province to remove Toronto from the jurisdiction of the OMB. Unfortunately, the province has yet to act.

The OMB Members that preside over cases are often not from Toronto and do not have the intimate knowledge and local context of our neighbourhoods that our planning departments and local representatives have.

Additionally, while many jurisdictions have planning appeal bodies, none are as strong or have as broad rights as the OMB. The OMB has more extensive influence over local planning-related matters than any other provincial board in the country.

The OMB’s ability to modify or repeal municipal planning policies, such as the City’s Official Plan or Zoning By-laws, has enabled it to exceed its role as an appeal body and have an immense influence on our local neighbourhoods.

Although the province has not yet acted on fully releasing Toronto from the OMB’s grasp, they have recently launched a review of the OMB’s scope and effectiveness. You can read more about the review online here.

In particular, the province has identified the following five focus areas:

• Jurisdiction and powers of the OMB;
• Citizen participation and local perspective;
• Clear and predictable decision making;
• Modern procedures and faster decisions; and,
• Alternative dispute resolution.

This is a great opportunity for you to express your concerns with the OMB directly to the province and your local Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP), and I strongly encourage you to participate.

You can read the province’s full consultation paper online here and there are several ways to get involved:

• Submit or upload your comments using the online form
• Email OMBReview@ontario.ca
• Call 1-855-776-8011
• Mail a submission to:
o Ontario Municipal Board Review, Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Provincial Planning Policy Branch, 777 Bay Street (13th Floor), Toronto, M5G 2E5

The deadline for providing feedback is December 19, 2016.

I also encourage you to attend the province’s OMB Town Hall in Toronto on November 15 at 6:00 p.m. at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. To RSVP, please click here.

This review is an important opportunity to have your say on the role of the OMB in our City’s planning process and our local neighbourhoods, and I hope that you will take the time to share your feedback with the province.