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Councillors say provincial review body is 'falling short,' needs reform

Six city councillors are calling for major reforms to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), the provincial oversight body for municipal planning. They say it undermines the city’s planning decisions and ability to create a healthy, sustainable city.

Councillors Jeff Leiper, Tobi Nussbaum, Catherine McKenney, Mathieu Fleury, Riley Brockington and David Chernushenko signed a letter to Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro, which outlined their concerns with the current system. (The letter was dated on Tuesday but only made public Friday.)

In it, the councillors write that the city’s careful planning has often been spoiled after decisions made by the “unelected and unaccountable” OMB. As a result, the letter said, the city’s development has become uncertain and incoherent.

The OMB is under review by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Ministry of the Attorney General. A consultation paper is expected to be released sometime this fall. In the meantime, the councillors have two ideas to improve the board.

First, they suggested not having the OMB oversee large cities at all. Instead, the letter said, large cities have a sophisticated enough system of government to offer needed checks.

Second, if the OMB continues in its current form, the councillors would like to see it made easier for residents to participate in decision-making. Under the current system residents can appeal city decisions to the board, but at great cost and effort. “The deck is stacked against communities,” said the letter.

Read the full letter below:



If you’re interested in learning more about how the OMB works, blogger Eric Darwin recently posted a really good behind-the-scenes recap of his recent involvement in a community case. You can read it here…


Devyn Barrie

Devyn Barrie is the publisher and editor of OttawaStart.com. He currently studies math and physics at the University of Ottawa, and has previously studied journalism and pre-technology (separately) at Algonquin College.