Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow has made no secret of how frustrated he is by the Ontario Municipal Board, the “unelected, unaccountable” provincial body that has final say in every planning decision made in Ontario.
He is asking constituents who share his frustration to join him in sending a message to the province, organizing a “Free Toronto from the OMB” town hall meeting where he will be joined by Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Peter Milczyn, a former councillor who is now chair of the Toronto Liberal caucus, Toronto Star urban planning columnist Christopher Hume, FoNTRA’s Peter Baker, and city planner Kerri Voumvakis.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at North Toronto Collegiate Institute at 17 Broadway Ave. on Tuesday Jan. 26.
“The way that Toronto is planned affects our daily quality of life. It affects our homes, our neighbourhoods, and our communities, and it affects the kinds of main streets that we have,” Matlow says. “I know that Toronto residents want good planning decisions, and that if they’re invited to be part of a process that it truly be democratic — and that’s just not the case today with the OMB.”
The OMB is widely seen in midtown Toronto as a developer-friendly body that frequently approves applications that are too high (such as the two 32-storey towers approved last year for Redpath and Broadway) or too dense (the townhouses at 2500 Bayview Ave.) — though developers have countered that the scale of development demanded by midtown residents is unrealistic.
In the past, Matlow himself has acknowledged that decisions made by the city’s planning department don’t always align with a project’s neighbours — but they honour planning standards such as the Midtown in Focus guidelines for the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood in a way that the OMB does not.
He hopes that enough residents agree with him to make the Jan. 26 town hall meeting a lively one — and that it leads to further action.
“I think it’s time that Toronto take back control of its planning process,” he says.
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