Major Announcement: Ontario’s Proposed Changes to the OMB and Land Use Planning Appeal System

On May 16, 2017, the Province announced significant proposed changes to the current land use planning appeal process.

Davies Howe has learned that the new system is anticipated to be in place sometime in 2018. Further, the Province indicated an intention to consult with stakeholders to define an appropriate transition period.

At this time, details are limited to what is set out in a news release entitled Giving Communities a Stronger Voice in Development and a backgrounder statement entitled Ontario’s Proposed Changes to the Land Use Planning Appeal System.  More details will be known once the proposed legislation is made public. What we know at this time is that the Province is looking to:

  • Replace the Ontario Municipal Board with a new body called the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (“LPAT”), which will include changes to the practices and procedures of the appeal system
  • Amend the Planning Act to eliminate ‘de novo’ hearings (i.e. “starting from the beginning”) and  replacing it with an appeal system oriented toward reviewing the correctness of municipal council decisions
  • Create a new statutory regime regarding hearing practices and procedures setting strict hearing timelines, requirements for written evidence and materials, and encouragement of alternative adjudication methods
  • Require mandatory case management meetings between parties to settle issues, encourage settlement, and reach potential mediation;
  • Exempt provincial approvals of Official Plans, approvals of conformity exercises, and minister’s zoning orders from appeal
  • Expand Local Appeal Body (“LAB”) jurisdiction to include appeals of site plans in addition to their current scope of minor variances and consents;
  • Enact a two-year moratorium on appeals for new secondary plans and a one-year moratorium for new interim control by-laws
  • Establish a Local Planning Appeal Support Centre, an agency mandated to provide information and support to the public during land use planning appeal matters

Under the proposed new framework, municipal decisions can only be appealed to the LPAT if the decision was not consistent with Provincial or local municipal policies or plans. Successful appeals will then be referred back to municipal council for reconsideration, during which they have a 90-day period to issue a subsequent decision. The Tribunal will retain the jurisdiction to replace Council’s decision if, after second consideration, Council makes a subsequent non-conforming decision or does not render a decision within the allotted time period.