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Ontario Municipal Board Review

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The Ontario government launched a review of the scope and effectiveness of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in June 2016.

The OMB is an independent public body where people can appeal land use decisions that affect their properties and communities.

The Ontario government sees a continuing need for a land use planning appeal tribunal in Ontario’s land use planning system. 

Through the OMB Review, the government considered the board's scope (what it deals with) and effectiveness (how it operates) to determine improvements with respect to how the board works within Ontario’s broader land use planning system. The review included extensive public consultation in communities across Ontario.

Based on feedback received through the review, Ontario is proposing to overhaul the province’s land use planning appeals system.  Bill 139 – the proposed Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017 proposes transformative changes, which include:  

  • Replacing the OMB with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal - a new tribunal which would be mandated to give greater weight to the decisions of local communities, while ensuring that development and growth occurs in a way that is good for Ontario and its future
  • Making planning appeals more accessible to the public by creating the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre, a new agency that would provide free legal and planning advice, as well as representation to citizens who may want to participate in local planning appeals
  • Leveling the playing field for communities, including free legal and planning support
  • Providing a faster, fairer and more affordable planning appeals.

Share your Input on the Bill

The government is inviting any comments you may have on Bill 139 – the proposed Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017 - until September 1, 2017 through:

The Bill also proposes amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act.  To share your input on the proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act, please visit the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry (EBR Registry Posting Number: 013-0561).

Land Use Planning Reforms – What We Have Already Done

Since 2004, the government has made a series of land use planning reforms that: 

  • Set out clearer rules for land use planning
  • Strengthen policy directions that outline the provincial interest in land use planning 
  • Give municipalities a stronger voice and more independence in local land use decisions 
  • Provide residents more opportunities for involvement and a greater say in land use decisions in their communities 

The changes proposed through the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017 (Bill 139) would build on these past improvements to ensure the land use planning appeals system works effectively and efficiently. 

Review Details

It is important that Ontario continues to have an independent appeal tribunal that can resolve some land use disputes ― not having one would result in more challenges being brought to the courts. Tribunals can support an efficient process. They are designed to be faster and less costly than the courts, and their members are subject-matter experts.

The following set of guiding principles helped frame the OMB Review: 

  • Protect long-term public interests
  • Maintain or enhance access to dispute resolution
  • Provide transparency in hearing processes and decision-making
  • Minimize impacts on the court system

Recent government initiatives on related issues, such as the Land Use Planning and Appeal System Review, the update to the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy and the Coordinated Provincial Plan Review, as well as a specific invitation for public input on the OMB, have helped to inform the priorities for discussion in this review.

The OMB Review was organized according to the following five themes: 

  • OMB’s jurisdiction and powers
  • Citizen participation and local perspective
  • Clear and predictable decision-making
  • Modern procedures and faster decisions 
  • Alternative dispute resolution and fewer hearings

As part of OMB review, the Ontario government undertook extensive public consultation in communities across the province by engaging with members of the public, municipalities, Indigenous communities and organizations, and stakeholders.   

The following specific components formed part of the OMB review consultation:  

OMB Review - Public Consultation Document

OMB Review cover page

The government released a Public Consultation Document to support the review of the OMB. It provided context and direction. It gave background on Ontario's land use planning system and on the OMB. It set out possible changes being considered to improve the OMB's role within the system and raised questions for consideration.

The government heard from many Ontarians — more than 1,100 written submissions on the OMB review.    

The deadline to provide feedback was December 19, 2016. Thank you to everyone who provided input.

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