Love or hate the OMB? Have your say at town hall

Councillor hopes meeting leads to freeing Toronto from the board

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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Posted: Jan 18 2016 7:11 am
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One thought on “Love or hate the OMB? Have your say at town hall

  • February 5, 2016 at 12:16 pm
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    Councillor Matlow’s drive to abolish the OMB seeks only to satisfy his agenda and is not in the best interest of the common good.

    The OMB is an independent body appointed by our elected government to discharge the law, rules and regulations according to the Planning Act of Toronto and the Toronto Official Plan. It is where we (residents, ratepayers and the general public, including developers) appeal a decision, where there are reasons to do so, and have the matter heard by an adjudicating body/institution/court that is independent of the City of Toronto.

    Independent, fair and impartial hearings where all Parties are treated equally.

    In its stead, those who wish to abolish the OMB would have us go where? Divisional Court? Ombudsman Ontario? Ombudsman City? Attorney General’s Office? Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing? A new City-run appeal body?

    These same abolitionists, encouraged by the City Chief Planner, have already passed bylaws that remove property rights from residents, ratepayers and the general public. Fortunately, these decisions are being appealed by my local community association (ARECA), assisted by the Confederation of Resident and Ratepayer Associations (CORRA).

    Not everybody agrees with these undemocratic decisions. Currently at the OMB there are a large number of Appellants to these City-initiated proposed changes to the Official Plan. These include home owners, community associations, developers and representatives of the development industry in Toronto. Some of these changes were first proposed during the chaotic last two years of the Ford era. The most destabilizing of which are the Eglinton Connects and the Development Permit System proposals. The Harmonizing Zoning Bylaw is also bogged down in numerous appeals and confusion.

    The transit farce during the Ford era is not the only Council decision that needs to be revisited.

    As the saying goes, “It’s the OMB, stupid”. Fix it, restore it to its rightful stature and you fix all that ails the OMB. Any other bright idea would be an unnecessary risk. Think about this; why would you give more control of the planning process to those who already believe it’s a good idea to remove your property rights?

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