Canada: What Does The Elimination Of The Ontario Municipal Board Mean? - Preliminary Expectations

The Ontario government has announced that it will introduce legislation to replace the Ontario Municipal Board ("OMB") with a new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal ("LPAT").  The most important change is the elimination of the OMB's power to substitute its decision for decisions made by a municipality or its committees.  The OMB currently makes planning decisions after a fulsome hearing, in furtherance of the goal of implementing good planning.  Instead of that normative approach, the new LPAT will only be allowed to consider whether the decision "does not follow" provincial policies or municipal plans.  If the decision does not fail on those tests, it cannot be overturned - even if the LPAT were to find the initial decision to not be good land use planning.  The LPAT will be required to send the matter back to the original decision maker for another decision.  Only on a successful second appeal would the LPAT be able to substitute its decision for that of the municipality or committee.

As the Province has described it, the LPAT will be a "true appeals body". 

This is a huge change in the land use planning regime for Ontario.  The proposal will need to be implemented through not only legislation but in detailed regulations and Rules for the LPAT, transition provisions for the OMB and the municipalities and the allocation of funding for not only the LPAT but also the new Local Planning Appeal Support Centre, a provincial agency which is to provide free and independent advice and representation to Ontario citizens. 

Some of the other changes which exclude certain decisions from appeal (e.g. new Official Plans, major Official Plan updates and provisions dealing with growth in major transit areas) are continuations of the changes the Province has introduced in recent years to shelter major planning decisions from appeal, although those changes are potentially more sweeping than what has come before because they focus on "who" makes the decision without also considering what the subject matter of the decision is. 

Rather than provide a summary of the Province's already short outline, this article will offer some preliminary thoughts and suggestions for land owners who may be wondering what, if anything, they should do now.   Miller Thomson will offer our thoughts to municipalities and public bodies separately in another article. 

The Ontario "Backgrounder" can be found here.

  • We believe that the overall impact of these changes is to make the land development appeal process more legally oriented than it is currently.  Today, it is planning and other expert professionals who play the primary role in allowing the OMB to assess what is the ""best" planning decision".  
  • The Ministry has said that it understands a transition period is needed and will work to "define the appropriate transition period".   It is clear that in addition to the legislation, which is likely to be introduced quickly before the Legislature breaks for its summer recess at the beginning of June, regulations and rules for the LPAT will need to put in place.  While we do not know what those transition provisions are going to be and whether the legislation will attempt to make the new regime retroactive to filed appeals, it is not unreasonable to expect that appeals already underway will continue to be heard by the OMB.   Landowners with development interests should immediately consider whether they want to move ahead under the existing regime and file appeals if needed to the OMB. 
  • The Provincial Backgrounder introduces the term "does not follow".  There are already a range of standards which municipalities and the OMB apply to various planning documents, ranging from no "conflict" (Niagara Escarpment Plan), through "conform" (Official Plans, Places to Grow Plan, Greenbelt Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Plan) and "consistent" (Provincial Policy Statement) to "have regard to" (matters of Provincial interest).   The manner in which that term is either clarified or expanded upon in the new legislation, the regulations or through litigation is going to determine how narrow the appeal rights are going to be at the LPAT.   Landowners will now want to be careful and strategic in structuring their planning applications at the very outset to maximize the potential for appeal.  This should involve strategic legal input at an early stage of the application process to preserve the potential for an appeal to the LPAT since these will primarily be legal disputes.
  • We expect those unhappy with local decisions will resort more in the future to purely legal challenges.   Judicial review applications to the Courts will almost certainly increase once the more flexible and end-result oriented OMB appeals are no longer available. 
  • The flow chart which accompanied the Provincial announcement indicates that examination and cross-examination of witnesses will not be allowed at LPAT hearings.   The press release does however suggest that evidence will be limited to written materials in the "majority of cases", which does suggest there may still be some ability for the LPAT to hear from witnesses.  Nonetheless, in the majority of cases, lawyers will now be the primary players before the LPAT instead of planners and other consultants.   The hearings will likely become more adversarial with the loss of the idea (and indeed the OMB Rule) that the focus of OMB hearings is on expert witnesses offering "fair, objective and non-partisan...assistance" to the OMB.  Instead of primarily hearing from those whose "duties [to the OMB] prevail over any obligation owed by the expert to the party by whom...he or she is engaged", the LPAT will primarily hear argument.  Landowners' applications and materials will now need to be prepared on the assumption that expert evidence will not be heard but must be fully set out in the legal record.
  • Every appeal to the LPAT will now undergo a mandatory case conference to explore settlement and to narrow the issues.   These may play an important role in resolving appeals, particularly where appeals are brought by ratepayers or neighbours.  Once details of how the Local Planning Support Centre will provide assistance and funding is provided, we will see how significant a role it and neighbours will play in the process.
  • The proposal to allow Local Appeal Bodies to hear site plan appeals will have little initial impact because the City of Toronto remains the only municipality where such a body has even been set up. 

It is likely that the legislation will be introduced next week before the Legislature breaks for the summer.   We, like every other stakeholder in the Province, can only say at this point that the "devil is in the details".  We will continue to monitor and provide commentary as the legislation, the regulations and Rules are developed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.