Ontario Municipal Board Reform – Finally

For years, many municipal leaders like myself, have been calling for Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) reform. It appears that these efforts have finally come to fruition – or at least almost. The Ontario Provincial government has released a long awaited list of proposed reforms to the OMB. The devil will be in the details when the specific legislation is tabled at Queen’s Park, but it looks like some very significant changes are on the horizon that will ultimately give more control over development back where it belongs – to municipalities, and away from the unelected and unaccountable OMB. 

I am proud to have moved a motion at Richmond Hill Council that called for reform. I am also proud to have helped organize the Municipal Summit for OMB Reform that brought leaders from across the province to produce a report related to OMB reform that we presented to the Ontario Government last year. 

Our citizens elect council members to represent their views. While there are many constraints under which councils need to operate regarding growth, the expectation is that a Municipal Council will adhere to the Official Plan that itself was created with many hours of citizen feedback. The reality is however, that there have been many OMB rulings over the past few years that have completely ignored the Official Plan of a municipality effectively doing an end run around a democratically elected local Council. It is my expectation that this problem will be addressed by these proposed reforms.

Some select news reports about these proposed changes can be found at the links below:

https://news.ontario.ca/mma/en/2017/05/ontarios-proposed-changes-to-the-land-use-planning-appeal-system.html

https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2017/05/16/omb-reform-praised-as-bold-boon-to-local-democracy.html

https://www.citynews.ca/2017/05/18/proposed-omb-changes-good-environmental-groups-greenbelt-alliance/