Over the years the OMB has been a concern for me as a number of planning decisions by our local council have been reversed by this unelected, provincially appointed body. It has become increasingly clear that reform of our land planning laws and regulations are necessary to allow locally elected municipal councils to make decisions based on the best interests of the communities they are elected to serve.
Further, the OMB has been used to bypass local councils as is evidenced by the recent appeal to the OMB of an application for development on Arnold Crescent. This appeal was triggered before the the planning process was complete and council had a chance to vote the matter (see article above entitled Arnold Cres. Development Application).
In partnership with a number of other GTA municipalities, and spearheaded by neighbouring Aurora, a coordinated effort has begun in the GTA to lobby the Ontario government to initiate reform. I have created, and will be introducing, the motion below in an effort to help to achieve this goal. The motion will come to council on February 22nd at 7:30 at our Council Meeting.
Proposed OMB Reform Motion
WHEREAS the Town of Richmond Hill has dedicated a good deal of time, and resources, developing an Official Plan that guides and directs the future development of our community and accurately reflects the expectations of the citizens of Richmond Hill; and
WHEREAS the Town of Richmond Hill also spends a good deal of resources defending the Official Plan and our Zoning Bylaws at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB); and
WHEREAS the Town’s Official Plan is ultimately approved by the Ontario Provincial Government; and
WHEREAS it is within the legislative purview of Municipal Council to rule on Official Plan amendments or Zoning By-law changes that better the community or fit within the vision of the Town of Richmond Hill Official Plan; and
WHEREAS it is also within the legislative purview of Municipal Council to deny Official Plan amendments or Zoning By-law changes that do not better the community or do not fit within the vision of the Town of Richmond Hill’s Official Plan; and
WHEREAS land use planning decisions may be appealed to the OMB, an unelected, appointed body that is not accountable to the residents of Richmond Hill;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED THAT Richmond Hill Town Council requests the Government of Ontario thoroughly review the land use appeals process and develop a process for such appeals that recognizes and supports the rights of municipalities to make decisions that adhere to Municipally approved Official Plans, local community needs and aspirations, reflected in those plans.; and
BE IT FURTHER RESLOVED THAT the regulated timelines before an appeal is possible based on a “failure to make a decision” by the municipality be significantly extended thus ensuring that
- Adequate time be given for proper and meaningful negotiations between the Municipality and Applicant with the goal of resolving planning disagreements
- Applicants are prevented from appealing to the OMB before a thorough negotiation process has been exercised to come to a successful outcome
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT a copy of this Motion be sent to the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario; the Honourable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing; the Honourable Patrick Brown, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party; the Honourable Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party; all MPPs in the Province of Ontario; all other York Region Municipalities; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT a copy of this Motion be sent to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and all Ontario municipalities for their consideration.