The OMB’S 7 Deadly Sins: Message from David Godley of Long Branch, Toronto

An earlier post is entitled: Amalgamated Toronto Provincial Review – Template for submission. Deadline is Aug. 7, 2015. Please write a letter today.

Please refer to the above-noted post. Your opinion matters, regarding the Review that is now under way; please let you views be known.

Please send your comments to the address indicated; the deadline is August 7, 2015.

Essentially – and this point is worth underlining – residents are saying, and have been saying consistently, that an Official Plan for urban development in Toronto is in place: There is much to be said for following the Official Plan.

The following message is accompanied by two attached files:

OMB PL140761 -48-35th st. pdf

OMB Hearing – 48 35th Street: Input from David Godley

The following message is from David Godley, who writes:

Please accept this as a submission on the OMB and let me know what your process and timelines are for the fall review.

David Godley

Wonder why the OMB does not work? Here are the reasons it is such a mess.

1) The OMB is appointed by the Province so it should be recognised that it is impacted by politics. In 75% of cases (I understand) the Toronto decisions are changed to support the applicant by the OMB. This seems to have more than a whiff of corruption.

2) The contest between a rich and knowledgeable development industry against the unresourced, unknowledgeable citizen is grossly unfair. The OMB takes no account of this or their own mandate on fairness.

3) The OMB is naive enough that they do not realise the deep conflict of development planner’€™s evidence.

4) The OMB relies on expert witnesses who clearly do not tell the whole truth. They skim over or not mention policies that harm their case and emphasise policies that help them. This is the basis the OMB can say black is white and frequently do. This is clearly shown in the decision on 48 35th Street. I attach the decision (PL140761) and my evidence. Criticism of the decision is in green below.

5) The OMB’€™s approach therefore may ignore the Official Plan policies, zoning intent and definition of minor and all the legal and planning framework.

6) The OMB tends to treat citizens with contempt. This has led to much relevant evidence not being presented.

7) The OMB is in, practice, unaccountable. The Ombudsman simply says it is the system that is at fault. The Divisional Courts are out of reach for ordinary citizens.

David Godley July 25 2015

[End of text]

An earlier message from David Godley:

I have attended several OMB hearings recently and given evidence. I was not allowed to give expert evidence despite having far broader and balanced expertise than qualified expert planners. I was labelled activist despite supporting the Committee of Adjustment and Planning Department.

As a qualified planner I can tell you none of the decisions made were based on good planning or deferred to common sense and rationality.

The Province is the appropriate place to deal with appeals. A long time ago the OMB did a good job. Not any more. The whole process has been skewed mostly by the development industry.

Few people have faith that the Government will change the culture of the OMB despite a review coming this fall. That is why the the City of Toronto is using its power to create its own Local Appeal Board that could conceivably be operational within a year.

However that leaves the rest of the Province at the mercy of a body supremely unfit for making planning decisions.

The Province could easily change to the English model which has worked satisfactorily for over 60 years. Here professional planners make reasoned decisions from a planning rather than legal perspective. It is essential planning evidence be analysed critically by a well seasoned planner to make any sense at all. This can also be done by written representation which is much more affordable than hearings.

The OMB is a sham and embarrassment to all Ontarians.

[End of text]

Additional text from David Godley:

Corrosive OMB. Decision PL140761 48 35th St, Toronto

Below is what appears to be the situation with the approval by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) of two 3 storey houses on narrow lots at over double the density.

The decision to approve the severance and variances is unusually dimwitted even by the OMB standards which in planning terms is appalling.

No reality or rationality is exhibited in any of this decision. All the extensive counterpoints below were made by resident’s testimony and ignored.

Residents asked for conditions which cost virtually nothing. These were ignored.

The decision is contemptuous of citizens who pay her salary.

Joyita Zuidema ran a good hearing by the poor standards of the OMB. The only difficulty (which was major) was that the lead objector had her evidence curtailed.

The hearing officer

1. does not recognise the highly conflicted nature of the developer’s planner. Bias is evidenced through avoiding critical sections of the Official Plan

2. does not understand that the developer’s planner has no urban design training or indeed knowledge. He would not be acting on this project if he did.

3. does not understand that urban design expertise is needed to evaluate character

4. states that this area is identified as a target growth area. The opposite is true as stated in the Official Plan. This could be reason for a review request.

5. says that only neighbourhood wide character is relevant. This is wrong according to 4.1.5c of the Official Plan which was cited by residents. The micro neighbourhood is more important as resident evidence attests.

6. says this fits into planned and existing context. Figures show this is wrong.

7. says these are minor adjustments. More than doubling the permitted use cannot possibly be seen as minor in size or impact.

8. says that there are no issues of overlook when the raised balcony (by at least 2m) either side of back yards and swimming pools of abutting owners; even the developer’s planner admitted there was by offering screening.

9. says the intent of the zoning is met when low density is the intent where there is plenty of space around the property. Yet the houses are crammed in.

10. says that there are no issues of shadowing and lighting when the abutting properties are half the length and fit to the zoning density.

11. says that there is urban fit when the designs are alien (tall and thin rather than wide and short) to the existing street and neighbourhood.

12. says the project is good planning, desirable for the community and that citizens are irrelevant to the process. This is the same as saying black is white 3 times.

Unfortunately the hearing officer has no knowledge of planning or indeed reality. She analyses nothing and does not give reasons as required by law.

She is supremely unfit as a planning adjudicator like many of her colleagues. This is an example of the worst type of decision which has caused the Province and its inhabitants so much difficulty.

She has no idea of the damage she is doing not only to the neighbourhood but to people’s lives.

Why should residents suffer severe hardship due to the incompetence of the OMB.

Neighbours are still in shock at the flimsiness of the decision.


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