On July 10, 2014, Toronto City Council voted 32-8 in favour of
establishing a Local Appeal Body (LAB) to hear appeals of minor
variance and consent applications from the Committee of Adjustment
(COA). The LAB was established under section 115 of the City of
Toronto Act, 2006, which permits City Council to
constitute and appoint an appeal body for local land use planning
matters. The LAB will have all the same powers and duties
previously exercised by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) for these
types of appeals.
At the same meeting, City Council requested that the Minister of
Municipal Affairs and Housing amend the Planning Act,
Heritage Act, and the City of Toronto Act, to
abolish the OMB's jurisdiction over the City of Toronto's
Zoning By-law Amendments, Official Plan Amendments, Site Plan,
Subdivision and Condominium Plan Approvals and Community
Improvement Plans, and appeals under the Heritage Act. It
also requested that the Province of Ontario amend the Planning
Act to clearly define a "minor variance." Similar
requests have been made to the Province before (by the City of
Toronto and others), and there does not appear to be any indication
that the Province intends to act on these requests.
LAB Procedure and Fees
City Council directed that the LAB be in place to hear all
appeals made after September 1, 2015. Appeals from the COA will no
longer be made to the OMB and will instead be made to the LAB.
The City Manager will oversee the establishment of the LAB. The
City Manager will report to the Executive Committee in early 2015
with recommendations for the governance and administration of the
LAB, including the number of members, their remuneration, and a
proposed fee structure. City Council has requested that the minimum
appeal fee be at least equal to the COA fee (which presently ranges
from approximately $1000 to $4200 depending on the application). A
previous staff report written in June estimated that to fully cover
projected costs, the fee would have to total approximately $6700
per application. However, City Council could choose to adopt a fee
that reflects partial cost recovery, with the balance recovered
through property taxes.
There is currently no determined procedure for appealing to the
LAB, or for LAB hearings. Under the City of Toronto Act,
2006, appeals from the LAB on questions of law may be made to
the Divisional Court with leave (as is currently the case with
appeals from OMB decisions).
Under the City of Toronto Act, 2006, the members of the
appeal body may not include city employees, a member of City
Council, and members of a land division committee, a committee of
adjustment, or a planning advisory committee. The LAB will be
subject to the City's Code of Conduct for Members of
Adjudicative Boards, and will conduct itself in accordance
with the Statutory Powers Procedures Act, the
Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, and the Municipal
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The content of this article does not constitute legal advice
and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be
sought about your specific circumstances.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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