Ontario is undertaking a review of the scope and effectiveness of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), an important part of the province’s land use planning system.
The OMB is an independent tribunal that makes decisions at arm’s length from the government on appeals and applications under a number of statutes, with most of its current caseload coming from the Planning Act.
As set out under the Planning Act, the OMB is responsible for hearing appeals on decisions related to land use planning including official plans, zoning by-laws and plans of subdivision. The OMB’s authority also includes hearing disputes on matters such as planning application fees and parkland dedication.
During extensive public and stakeholder consultations on the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act (Bill 73), the update to the Long-term Affordable Housing Strategy and the Coordinated Land Use Planning Review, the province received input on improvements that could be made to the OMB, including its role in Ontario’s land use planning system.
Ontario has already acted upon some of these suggested improvements.
For example, several changes were incorporated into the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act:
- When municipalities prepare new official plans, the plans can no longer be appealed in their entirety, and
- Once a new official plan is in place, that plan would not be subject to any new appeals of private applications for two years unless the municipality allows the applications to be made.
Recent changes in the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act will also give citizens a more meaningful voice in the land use planning process, build a more accountable and transparent decision making process, and focus on alternative dispute resolution to reduce the number of OMB hearings.
Ontario also proposed several additional changes to improve the land use planning and appeal system in our province through proposed amendments to provincial land use plans. The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe would help to provide clearer direction for decision makers for assessing land needs to limit potential appeals.
Under the proposed Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016, appeals of inclusionary zoning official plan policies and zoning by-laws to the OMB would not be permitted, except by the province.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Ministry of the Attorney General are working to develop proposed recommendations to improve how the OMB works within the broader system of land use planning. A consultation paper will be released in the fall 2016 for further comment.
In the meantime, the province would like to hear your views on the following topics:
- Jurisdiction and powers: this could include what matters can be appealed and who may appeal them, the use of local appeal bodies and how much deference should be given to municipal decisions.
- Meaningful citizen participation and local perspective: this could include who has access to hearings, how to ensure the ability of the public to participate, how to ensure that the process is affordable, unrepresented parties and the role of the citizen liaison office.
- Clear/predictable decision making: this could include how to ensure fairness, adjudicator education and training and standardized decision format(s)
- Hearing procedures and practices: this could include the formality of hearings, how expert evidence is heard and what evidence should be allowed at hearings.
- Alternative dispute resolution: this could include the use of mediation or other alternatives to traditional hearings or adversarial procedures as part of the appeal system.
- Timely processes and decision making: this could include the timelines for scheduling hearings and the issuing of decisions.
If you would like to comment or share your insights on the topics above, please email us at: OMBReview@ontario.ca.
Comments and suggestions received during all stages of the review, as well as comments already received will be used to help inform the government of what changes may be needed.
There will be further opportunity for input when the consultation paper is released in the fall.
Notice Regarding Collection of Information
Any personal information collected is under the authority of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Act for the purpose of obtaining input on the Ontario Municipal Board Review.
If you have questions about the collection, use, and disclosure of this information, please contact the Ministry of Municipal Affairs Senior Information and Privacy Advisor, 777 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2E5, 416-585-7094.
Personal contact information will be used only to contact you and will not be shared. Please be aware that any comments provided may be shared or disclosed once personal information is removed. Personal information includes your name, home address and personal e-mail address.
Organizations and Businesses
Comments or submissions made on behalf of an organization or business may be shared or disclosed. By submitting comments you are deemed to consent to the sharing of information contained in the comments and your business contact information. Business contact information is the name, title and contact information of anyone submitting comments in a business, professional or official capacity.