OTTAWA — The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is getting an overhaul and it’s for the better, says a provincial municipal affairs critic.
The province announced that changes were coming to the OMB on May 16. The board will become the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. New legislation will be introduced to create the new board, although the province hasn’t said when that will be happening.
But what’s in a name? The board’s powers will be cut back to a certain extent. Rather than judging a case and looking for the “best” planning decision, the board now has to refer to municipal plans or provincial policies if it wants to reject a municipal decision. Also, the board can no longer write its own decision unless the municipality still isn’t following provincial policy or municipal plans by the second appeal.
A few things will also be shielded from appeal. Minister’s zoning orders and provincial approvals of official plans will not be appealable to the OMB.
Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing Ernie Hardeman (MPP PC-Oxford) is hopeful that the new system will help keep politics out of municipal planning decisions and thinks the changes that are coming are for the better.
“The OMB was far too much the other way,” Hardeman said. “They made the decision based on what they think is good planning. Review panels should be there to make sure that the original application followed the rules” and not to decide if they think the rules are right or not, he said.