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Ontario Proposing Possible Changes to the Ontario Municipal Board to Improve Efficiency and Accessibility

Archived Backgrounder

Ontario Proposing Possible Changes to the Ontario Municipal Board to Improve Efficiency and Accessibility

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

The province is holding public consultations on possible changes to the role the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) plays in the land-use planning system.

Jurisdiction and powers of the Ontario Municipal Board

Changes under consideration would give more weight to local and provincial decisions, and bring fewer decisions before the OMB, by:

  • Moving away from "de novo" hearings (where matters are considered by the OMB as though no previous municipal council decision had been made)
  • Expanding the authority of local appeal bodies to include appeals related to site plans so that they could hear individual property disputes related to things like landscaping, driveways or lighting
  • Requiring the OMB to send significant new information that might arise in a hearing back to municipal council for re-evaluation
  • Protecting public interests for the future by limiting appeals on provincial land-use planning decisions
  • Bringing transit to more people by restricting the appeal of certain decisions that support provincially-funded transit like subways and bus stations
  • Limiting appeals on certain municipal decisions to refuse changes to developing neighbourhood plans that the community was involved in developing, or are based on extensive study

Citizen participation and local perspective

Changes under consideration would allow for more meaningful, more accessible public participation, by:

  • Increasing public education opportunities, such as a new, user-friendly website, to provide clearer information on OMB practices and procedures
  • Expanding the OMB's Citizen Liaison Office to provide easier public access to information
  • Reconfiguring the Citizen Liaison Office outside of the Environment and Land Tribunal Ontario with in-house planning experts and lawyers
  • Exploring funding tools to help citizens retain their own planning experts or lawyers

Clear and predictable decision making

Changes under consideration would support clearer and more predictable decision making. They include:

  • Increasing the number of OMB adjudicators and ensuring they have the skills they need
  • Additional training to OMB adjudicators, including decision writing, active adjudication and dealing with parties with no legal representation
  • Introducing the use of multi-member panels, either for complex cases or all cases

Modern procedures and faster decisions

Changes under consideration would help to modernize OMB procedures leading to faster decisions. They include:

  • Adopting less complex and more accessible tribunal procedures, including allowing for "active adjudication," meaning adjudicators could play a more active role in hearings
  • Setting appropriate timelines for decisions, conducting more hearings in writing and taking actions to make hearings more cost-effective and efficient

Alternative dispute resolution and fewer hearings

Changes under consideration would support alternative ways to hear disputes, leading to fewer and shorter OMB hearings. They include:

  • Actively promoting mediation for OMB appeals
  • Requiring all appeals to be considered by a mediator before scheduling a hearing
  • Allowing mediators to be available at all times during an application process
  • Strengthening the case management at the OMB to better stream and scope issues and identify areas that can be resolved at pre-hearing
  • Creating timelines and targets for scheduling cases, including mediation

How the public can have their say

Town hall meetings will be held in October/November 2016. The most up-to-date consultation schedule is available on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs website.

Ontarians can also give their feedback on the possible changes by:

  • Submitting comments at ontario.ca/OMBReview
  • Submitting comments through the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Registry posting by searching for OMB Review, 2016. Notice # 012-7196 on the following website: ontario.ca/EBR
  • Emailing comments to:  OMBReview@ontario.ca
  • Writing to :
    Ontario Municipal Board Review
    Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
    Provincial Planning Policy Branch
    777 Bay Street, 13th Floor
    Toronto, ON M5G 2E5

The deadline for feedback is December 19, 2016.

The input received will inform future reforms to the Ontario Municipal Board that, if passed, would ensure Ontario's land use planning system is appropriate, open and fair.

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