The OMB’s reign is over – input from six stakeholders

Stakeholders offer their input on the long-criticized Ontario Municipal Board and its new, less powerful replacement: the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal

by Post City Staff for Streets Of Toronto Posted: June 8, 2017

Tim Hudak, CEO, OREA
Ontario Realtors are concerned that the OMB reform may jeopardize sustainable home ownership for the next generation. We get that the OMB is one of the least loved government bodies, but in reality, they are effectively the referee enforcing the rules created by the provincial government for where new housing should be built. 

The challenge with a weaker referee is that local municipal politicians will cast their votes with local NIMBY movements instead of good planning and the needs of future homeowners desperate to get into the local real estate market. That means fewer homes being built and fewer choices in the marketplace. 

Geoff Kettel, Co-Chair of FONTRA
The new agency would provide free support, including case representation for citizens who want to participate in the process. So it appears the government has listened to our concerns. But the “devil is in the details,” and we’ll need to examine the legislation when it is introduced. For example, there is a suggestion that appeals may be limited on matters considered “transit supportive.” The “ring around a transit hub” covers all kinds of land use. Intensification where possible or where appropriate? The Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations will oppose a blanket policy that removes consideration of local impacts.

Kristyn Wong-Tam, city councillor
Replacing the OMB with the newly created Local Planning Appeal Tribunal will be a change in name only, since it will still be able to overturn city council–adopted zoning bylaw amendments, secondary plans and Heritage Conservation Districts. Development applications already undergo strenuous review by city staff and extensive public consultation. The need for a politically appointed, quasi-judicial provincial appeal body to decide “good planning” for local communities remains unnecessary and undemocratic. We must be firm with our original ask: Toronto does not need an OMB-like appeal body, regardless of how it is rebranded.

Steve Diamond, developer
Several of the changes proposed will improve the process, yet some should be a cause for concern. The nature of Ontario’s municipal government is that city councils often appeal to the interests of those that are responsible for their re-election, which are current residents and current homeowners. Unfortunately, local not-in-my-backyard politics often outweighs sound provincial growth policies. The OMB reforms do not address an unpredictable, opaque and unnecessarily complex planning system. The OMB reforms risk further restricting housing supply and reducing affordability

Andy Gort, SERRA
At some point in history, there probably was a rationale for a duplicate planning function within the context of highrise developments, when municipalities practised ad hoc planning and city councillors were less subject to scrutiny. But times have changed and municipal planning has come of age. Today there are comprehensive development plans, planning organizations with educated personnel, and well-defined planning processes accessible to the community. The South Eglinton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association is thrilled the OMB will be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Joe Vaccaro, CEO, OHBA
The Ontario Home Builders’ Association’s main concern is that the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) will make it more difficult to bring new housing supply to market, which will ultimately affect housing choice and affordability throughout Ontario. When local transit and infrastructure support a new housing project, it should be added to the community. If the LPAT becomes a rubber stamp for obstructionist councils, then the province’s demand to optimize our housing supply, provide diverse housing options and “grow up,” will fail. If we want dynamic, complete communities, we all have to grow up