On October 24, 2013, the Ontario Provincial Government announced
that it would review the land use planning approval system in
Ontario, including the role of the OMB. This announcement also
stated that the province will review the Development Charges
Act. Specifically, the announcement states:
The review will also look to find ways to foster better
co-operation and collaboration between municipalities, community
groups, property owners and developers, so more land use planning
matters can be resolved locally, instead of being referred to the
Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
This announcement comes in the context of increasing political
attacks against the OMB. The OMB is charged with making decisions
in complicated land use planning disputes. The result is that the
Board is frequently criticized heavily for its decisions, in what
are often politically volatile matters. In many of these volatile
matters, regardless of the outcome, the OMB will be the subject of
The most recent challenge centred on Bill 20, a private members
bill in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario given first reading on
March 5, 2013.1 Mr. Rosario Marchese, MPP for
Trinity-Spadina, introduced Bill 20, which is entitled
"Respect for Municipalities Act (City of Toronto)".
On first reading, Mr. Marchese summarized the purpose of the
bill as follows:
My bill, in short, would free Toronto from the Ontario Municipal
Board. The bill changes the relationship in law between the City of
Toronto and the Ontario Municipal Board. Currently, under various
statutes that govern land-use planning, certain municipal decisions
can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. Amendments
eliminate those rights of appeal with respect to decisions of the
City of Toronto. Amendments also eliminate a right to make certain
other types of applications to the board with respect to the city.
The city is authorized to establish one or more appeal bodies to
hear any of these matters and to hear such other matters as the
city considers appropriate.2
There were numerous criticisms of Bill 20, including that Bill
20 does not compel the City of Toronto to create its own appellate
body for local land use planning issues. The City of Toronto would
have the discretion to create its own appellate body, but it is
unclear that such an appellate body would, in fact, be created.
Bill 20 undermines the OMB, which performs an important role
based upon a history of independent expertise in land use planning
A unique City of Toronto appellate body would also set the stage
for potentially inconsistent practices and procedures to those of
the OMB. Furthermore, this appellate body would lack the OMB's
history of independence and expertise in land use planning across
Bill 20 passed second reading on March 7, 2013, and the matter
was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic
Affairs. Bill 20 did not proceed any further at the Committee
Bill 20 would have represented a fundamental change to the
planning regime in Ontario. This change would have created a
very real risk of disrupting the planning regime in Ontario.
A criticism of Bill 20 was that it was not the subject of a
comprehensive review of the entire planning regime to identify the
potential impact and issues that would result from this proposed
change to the planning regime. On the heels of Bill 20, and in
implicit acknowledgement of this criticism, comes this latest
review announcement from the provincial government promising a
comprehensive review of the land use planning system in
As the OMB has exclusive jurisdiction pursuant to the
Expropriations Act, changes to its jurisdiction may impact
all stakeholders involved with expropriation, including claimants,
expropriating authority, and expert consultants. There has been no
indication that the jurisdiction related to expropriation will be
displaced, but any changes to the land use planning approval system
will inevitably impact the analysis of the highest and best use of
a property. Regardless, stakeholders involved in expropriation will
monitor the province's announcement with keen interest.
2.Legislative Assembly of Ontario Website, Official Records
for 5 March 2013 [accessed November 4, 2013]
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