Province conducting review of OMB
By Chad Ingram
Published Nov. 3, 2016
The provincial government is conducting a review of and looking at potential reforms to the Ontario Municipal Board, an appointed body which hears appeals on land use decisions made by municipal councils, and Haliburton County is weighing in.
“This review is seeking ways to build on past changes so that the OMB can continue to contribute within the land use planning system,” reads a report from county planner Charlsey White that county councillors accepted during an Oct. 26 meeting. “Accordingly, the government is undertaking consultations and seeking input on potential reforms.”
One of those potential reforms is the public funding of appeals on planning decisions, something councillors were staunchly opposed to.
“I think they’re dead wrong on this, I think it’s like throwing gas on a fire,” said Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin. “Anybody who has an axe to grind with anything will get a free ride.”
His colleagues agreed.
“Challenges will go through the roof because it’s a free ride,” said Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt. “You need to fix the process, as opposed to funding objections to the process.”
“What we’re doing now is using taxpayers’ money to fight taxpayers,” said Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey.
White responded to a questionnaire of more than 20 questions that will be sent to the province as part of its review process.
“What is your perspective on the changes being considered to limit appeals on matters of public interest?” one question asks.
“The continued empowerment of single and upper tier municipalities in the land use planning system results in the in the province making fewer decisions on official plans, official plan amendments, subdivisions and condominiums,” White responded. “Limiting appeals on provincial land use planning decisions would have a declining impact on the system as a whole due to the reduced number of decisions being made by the province and may have little long term impact. This may only be an effective tool in geographies where the province is the approval authority over official plans. A change which would make the province’s decisions on new official plans or amendments final and not subject to appeal may have the consequence of removing a municipality’s ability to appeal a decision which they feel does not consider local interests or planning directions. The local municipality’s ability to appeal a decision of the province should be maintained, especially when a municipality is required to implement a provincial plan.”
The questions and the planner’s responses can be viewed in full by searching the Oct. 26 council agenda on Haliburton County’s website.