Skip to content
You are here > Home > Your Ministry > Land Use Planning > Ontario Municipal Board

Link to Follow usFollow us

Ontario Municipal Board

Email this page

Ontario Municipal Board Review

Ontario is undertaking a review of the scope and effectiveness of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), an important part of the province’s land use planning system.

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is an independent, quasi-judicial, administrative tribunal responsible for handling appeals of land-use planning disputes and municipal matters. For example, appeals to the OMB could involve official plans, zoning bylaws, plans of subdivision or minor variances.

When people are unable to resolve their differences on these types of community land-use planning issues, the OMB provides a public forum for appeals.

Board members are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, following a review and recruitment process managed by the Public Appointments Secretariat.

Changes to Ontario’s land use planning system have made the Board more accessible and transparent to the public. These changes have also helped to better align the Board’s role in land use planning matters with municipal and provincial interests. In addition, a Citizens’ Guide is available to help the public participate effectively in the OMB process by improving their understanding of OMB policies and practices, and a Citizen Liaison Office has been established.

How a Formal Ontario Municipal Board Hearing is Conducted

The OMB process begins with the filing of an appeal. Legislation generally sets out who can appeal, how to appeal and the deadlines to file an appeal.

The appeal information is then sent to the OMB by the municipality, approval authority or planning board, and made available for public review at the Board’s offices in advance of the hearing.

Usually, OMB hearings are held in the municipality at a municipal office or community centre, and are generally open to the public. The hearings are conducted by one or more members of the OMB and are similar to court proceedings, but less formal. Local residents, concerned citizens and expert witnesses in land use planning and other disciplines are often called to testify.

A hearing can be a couple of hours in length if it involves few witnesses and only one or two planning issues, or it could last several days or weeks in more complex situations.

Decision Making

When a matter is appealed to the OMB, it can make a decision to approve, modify or refuse the proposal before it. Under some circumstances the Board may also dismiss an appeal without holding a hearing.

The Board’s decisions are based on the evidence presented at the hearing including:

  • Environmental, social and economic considerations
  • Provincial and municipal interests
  • Rights of the individual citizens
  • The best interests of the community as a whole.

The Board also considers the relevant law, provincial policies, municipal decisions and the principles of good planning in coming to a decision.