Preserved Stories Blog

Recent Toronto Life article about “the South” and Toronto Star article about OMB have given rise to many thoughts

Two recent posts are entitled:

Feb. 15, 2017 Toronto Life article: “The $1-Billion Hellhole.” Previous posts share back stories about superjail.

Feb. 17, 2017 Toronto Star: Contested Development – Parts 1, 2 & 3 in series about Ontario Municipal Board “wielding its unelected power”

Many thoughts come to mind. I have spent the past decade and more focused on what goes in in my local community. Before that, my volunteer work was primarily at the national and international level. What I’ve been learning at the local level, through getting to know what happens at OMB and COA hearings, and observing what occurs at the Etobicoke-York Community Council, is somewhat astounding, I would say.

I think of a comment by a Councillor in the Toronto Star article, who said that a Councillor’s role in decision-making is very limited, compared to the OMB. That really made me stop and think.

The metaphor of the “failed state,” as it applies to countries that lack a functioning government, comes to mind.

The story about “the South” has also prompted me to stop and think as well.

I will be taking a break from blogging

I am pleased to know that there are people who re-visit my site regularly; the proportion of site visitors in that category has been increasing over the past year.

Thank you for being a regular reader of my posts.

I want to say that, after I have posted a few items, that I’ve been planning to post regarding postwar emergency housing in Southern Ontario, and maybe a few other posts in progress, I will be taking a break, to the extent I am capable of taking such a break, from intensive blogging at this website for a while.

I will be spending time on some off-line, analog projects, involving study of printed resources, and will be working in the pen-and-paper environment for some time. I will also be doing transcribing and note-taking related to interviews and meetings that I’ve been involved with.

I anticipate I may be doing some blogging, now and then, during this period of study and off-line work.

Just to let you know.


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One Response to Recent Toronto Life article about “the South” and Toronto Star article about OMB have given rise to many thoughts

  1. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    I’ve been following with interest tweets from Jennifer Keesmaat @jen_keesmaat, Chief Planner, City of Toronto, who asserts that the headlines in the Feb. 17, 2017 Toronto Star article are inaccurate. She notes, for example, with regard to the Toronto Star:

    “You mixup 2 things, completely: development applications vs policy appeals. 4% is development applications; policy appeals is separate.”

    I look forward to learning more about her views.

    From my limited perspective and anecdotal evidence as a resident observing, and occasionally participating at, Committee of Adjustment and OMB hearings in recent years, my sense is that we are dealing with unelected officials who are in some cases ignorant of, or in other cases openly contemptuous of, the Official Plan and relevant Bylaws.

    The fact that in some cases, as the Toronto Star article notes, transcripts of OMB hearings are in some cases unavailable, and reasons for decisions are in some cases skimpy, does not engender any faith whatever in the integrity of the OMB decision-making process.

    There is an element of farce in many of the observable aspects of the process.

    A related topic concerns record-keeping and the concepts of transparency and accountability. In Houses of Parliament, we have Hansard, an official record of what takes place. We also have video and audio recording of procedures. At Toronto City Council meetings, procedures are recorded. In the court system, we have transcripts. OMB us a quasi-judicial body. The Feb. 17, 2017 Toronto Star article notes, however, that transcripts of OMB meetings may or may not be available. Reasons for decisions may be stated in some detail, or not. As well, a judge can be removed from the bench, in the case of misconduct. A political can be voted out of office. No such provision appears to be in place )I stand to be corrected, with regard to this point), with regard to the conduct or competence of members of Committees of Adjustment or the OMB.

    These facts, in my view, reinforce the concept that we are dealing with a “failed state” approach to decision-making.

    The concept and reality that elected officials can be routinely overruled (in an arbitrary and contemptuous manner, in many cases without a clearly articulated rationale) on key planning decisions by unelected officials is not, I would argue, acceptable in a society that claims to have attained even a rudimentary level of democracy.

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