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Abolish the Ontario Municipal Board

Can someone please explain to me why the Ontario Municipal Board exists? Why do we elect local politicians at all if their only purpose is to express an opinion to a mysterious judicial body?

The developers of the former Lafarge property in Guelph recently told city council that they had no plans to withdraw a pre-emptive OMB case against the city because they would be appealing the city's as-yet unmade decision regardless. Not exactly the spirit of cooperation those same developers told city council not five minutes earlier they were pursuing. But it begs the question, why does such a body exist?

Why is there a body that can overrule cities' elected politicians, their decisions, and their long term plans?

As former BC premier Mike Harcourt so eloquently put it to a conference in Guelph a year ago, "First off, abolish the OMB". I couldn't agree more, it's time for this useless body to be purged from this province.

Posted at 14:28 on March 12, 2008

This entry has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.

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Cal writes at Mon Mar 17 15:57:05 EDT 2008...

David,

The OMB exists because municipal councils can be too beholding to special interest groups and can act very unfairly. You have to be able to appeal their decisions.

Your response is that we can kick them out every election, but if you are a property owner who wants to sever, develop or rezone your property it can be very expensive and or very frustating to wait until the next election. The OMB makes sure that Municipal councils act fairly to all the parties involved not just one of the parties.

It can be argued that in the past the OMB has ignored what some municipalities wanted but were the municipalities being fair? Remember you have to balance the rights of the private property owner against that of the community. For instance if you or the city doesn't approve of the development of the former Lafarge property shouldn't the owner be bought out rather than stymied by Council? The neighbourhood wants the area turned into a park (even if they haven't said so publically they have said it in the past) and you want it turned into a transportation hub. Council can try and hold up any development without compensating the owner. What is the owner's remedy? Where would it go if the OMB didn't exist? Did Mike Harcourt offer an alternative?


David Graham (cdlu.net) writes at Mon Mar 17 16:37:54 EDT 2008...

Cal,

Thanks for this.

You may be right - there may need to be an appeal mechanism for government decisions, perhaps even at all levels of government. But it also needs to be accountable. On the other hand, not having that appeal mechanism could also force developers, particularly, to negotiate with municipal governments in good faith to come up with a compromise.

I proposed one in my presentation on Lafarge which I believe is beneficial to everyone - namely, the use of the land as both a transit station and high density residential - but if there is a means to simply overrule the city with no further accountability, where is the incentive to cooperate?

The answer probably lies somewhere between the OMB and no OMB... what that would be I am not sure.


Dave writes at Mon Jul 7 17:09:49 EDT 2008...

Hi i'm not sure if i'm in the right spot, but i would like info on severing land. We want to purchase a piece of land from my wifes uncle, the land is 100' X 350'. We were told that the land couldn't be severed anymore, is there any way around this? I know there are a lot of parcels of land that are less (in size) than this. I have tried the OMB site but it's confusing, and i am looking for a faster way to resolve this matter. Thanks in advance, please email myself @ pub27@hotmail.com


David Graham (cdlu.net) writes at Mon Jul 7 17:15:46 EDT 2008...

Dave,

My blog is not the appropriate venue to resolve your land issue. Please contact City Hall in your community and ask for advice.


ace myers writes at Tue Oct 14 16:44:15 EDT 2008...

The OMB is a joke. The only interest served by the OMB is special interests. Anyone indicating that it helps balance the decisions of local politick is out to lunch.... it simply allows developers to walk all over neighbourhoods and planning departments at will.

We do NOT want anymore big-box stores. We do not want inappropriate housing developments in our neighbourhoods.

The OMB is bribe-centric and should be eliminated like fecal matter.


big shoe writes at Sun Dec 21 12:03:40 EST 2008...

OMB's have long been compromised, plus the high cost of going to the OMB has discouraged many from going to the OMB. Now, if the government payed for cases going against developers, and developers pay their own way. Would help.

As well local planners decisions should have more weight. And cases going before OMB should have a stricter criteria before they can appear.

As well OMB needs reform and less powers. Plus plebsite of community can overrule OMB decisions.


G. T. writes at Sun Jan 31 22:33:01 EST 2010...

The OMB must GO. Completely unaccountable useless organization that has wreaked havoc on sensible planning for years.

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