SERRA is an active member of the Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations (see http://www.fontra.com). FoNTRA has drafted and submitted a briefing calling for OMB reform in response to the province’s request for input. Here are the highlights from the submission.
FoNTRA’s submission is based on the principle that municipal councils should be responsible for local planning decisions, not an unelected body that is not accountable to citizens.
- It frequently overrides the decisions made by democratically elected municipal councils,
- It bases its decisions on de novo (“starting over”) hearings in which it can ignore the decisions of municipal councils and evidence presented to them,
- It pays little attention to concerns of affected citizens, having regard principally for evidence presented to it by “expert witnesses” that ordinary citizens cannot afford.
By making ad-hoc site-specific decisions in response to developers’ applications, it reduces the role of area-wide municipal Official Plans and in so doing too often fails to consider area-wide impacts of major new developments.
1. The role of the OMB should be changed to restrict it to acting as a genuine appeal body, only allowing or disallowing a municipal council’s decision rather than substituting its own judgment for the municipal decision.
2. The number of appeals to the OMB should be drastically reduced by prohibiting privately initiated applications for Official Plan amendments that have not been approved by a municipal council, and redirecting appeals from Committee of Adjustment decisions to Local Appeal Boards.
3. The content of municipal Official Plans should be required to provide clear policy guidance for subsequent amendments to the zoning by-law, including clearly-defined limits on the magnitude of such amendments.
4. Residents’ participation in Board proceedings should be made more effective, through measures as intervenor funding and weighting of evidence based on relevant expertise and knowledge rather than credentialism.
SERRA plans to provide a separate submission that will highlight the reform issues and recommendations that are most relevant to our region.
If you would like to receive more information on the FoNTRA proposal or would like to contribute to SERRA’s submission please contact Andy Gort at firstname.lastname@example.org