The following text is from David Godley of Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey):
Bill 20, MPP Rosario Marchese’s Private Member’s Bill: Elimination of the OMB from the planning system in Toronto
The Purpose of the Bill [writes David Godley; the text you are reading is from David Godley] is to allow elimination of the Ontario Municipal Board from all planning appeals within the City of Toronto. It allows the City to set up Local Appeal Boards.
This differs from the City’s current initiative to have only severance and minor variance appeals to a Local Planning Board.
I attended a meeting at Kensington Gardens Health Facility, 45 Brunswick Street on 2 April 2014 from 7 pm to 8.30 pm. About 30 people attended. This seemed few compared to community meetings about a specific proposal and was put down to the abstract nature of the issue.
At the moment this Bill has all party support but could be killed if there is an election or a prorogue. Also the Liberals could kill the bill at third reading or proclamation. Hearings are on April 10 at the Legislature. See appendix. Ken Greenberg, an eminent planner and formerly head of the city’s urban design team was present. He will be making a presentation for the bill.
The OMB seems to be widely denigrated by neighbourhood groups. The basic issues are accountability and the David vs Goliath issue with residents, whose neighbourhood is being changed unable to afford the necessary legal and planning expertise. The Board increasingly relies on expert evidence to the disadvantage of objectors.
There is no trust in getting a fair hearing. The OMB’s role has over the last decade become less administrative and more policy maker.
The review by the Province of Local Planning including the OMB was substituted by a development agenda and now only includes development charges, parkland dedication and bonusing under Section 37. This was put down to party donations.
In 2005 the government had given away their power to overrule the OMB for no apparent reason. A change to the Planning Act that required the OMB to have regard for the municipality’s position had no effect. Consequently the Province now is part of a Divisional Court hearing appealing the whole of the Waterloo Regional Plan against an OMB decision which favours sprawl.
Local Appeals Body
MPP Rosario [Marchese] presented and answered questions deftly. He validated questioners and soft sold his Bill. People had concerns about cost and replacing the OMB with a Local Appeals Body (LAB) that has the same problems.
Cost was addressed by saying a portion of the taxpayer cost attributed to the OMB could be downloaded from the Province to the City.
Although LAB members would still be appointed politically they would be appointed locally. This was justified by saying Toronto is large enough to look after its own affairs and members would know the community and issues better. It was even suggested they might go on site inspections! LAB’s set up and processes would be decided by the community. The Harris Government appointed development oriented OMB members.
It was also expressed that Community Boards as expressed in the City of Toronto amalgamation act could solve many of the sane issues. New York is a model but the suggestion for 23 boards has been made for the City.
It was expressed that without public pressure nothing happens so written submissions, attendance at the Legislative Committee and oral presentations at the Committee which will be 9am to 10.25am and 2pm to 6pm. 15 minutes are allowed for each speaker.
4 April 2014
As part of his text, David Godley included the following Appendix:
To everyone who attended Rosario Marchese’s Action on OMB Reform Town Hall,
First of all, thank you to everyone who attended! Rosario was very happy to meet with so many people who agree that it is time to do something about the unelected and unaccountable OMB. And with the Bill 20 hearings coming up, Toronto is closer than ever to being finally freed from the OMB!
Second, as requested, here is the information about how to request to speak or send in a statement to the Standing Committee on Finance in support of Rosario’s Bill 20.
The official hearing notice can be viewed here. The hearings will take place on April 10 probably between 9:00-10:15 am and 2-6 pm. Each speaker will have about 15 minutes, including questions from the committee (if the speaker does not use up all the time). Each party will be able to select from the list of speaking requests, but even if a supporter is not able to speak, their presence at the hearings will be most welcome.
Requests to speak or statements in support should be sent as soon as possible to:
Katch Koch – Clerk of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
Rm 1405 Whitney Block
99 Wellesley St W
April 7, 2014 deadline for speaking requests or statements
The absolute deadline to submit speaking requests or statements is April 7.
For further updates on Bill 20, the OMB and other provincial matters, please sign up for Rosario’s e-newsletter.
And if you haven’t done so, you can also sign Rosario’s online petition in support of Bill 20.
Also, please consider ordering a lawn sign! Please call the Constituency Office at (416) 603-9664 to request one.
Office of Rosario Marchese
Room 116, Legislative Bldg
Toronto, ON, M7A 1A5
[End of text from David Godley]
An April 10, 2014 National Post article is entitled: “Urban Scrawl: Time to scrap quasi-judicial, unelected and unaccountable Ontario Municipal Board.”