Last month I joined Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Coun. John Gazzola in attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference. Both Coun. Gazzola and I attended a session on the transition of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). It’s only been a few months since the transition took place in the spring and already they are backlogged with applications and have issues to deal with.
The panel comprised of a lawyer from a municipality and one from a planning law firm along with a city manager noted all their latest opinions and experiences as to how the transition is coming along.
There will now be significant changes in the role for councillors to consider planning applications before city’s committee meetings and council meetings. Council will now bear much more responsibility on decision making based on planning merits. As well, all additional studies such as traffic, environmental, engineering reports etc. pertaining to the zone change, subdivision, or Official Plan applications will now be council considered which were previously done at the OMB hearings if appealed.
Expert deputations will now be appearing before councillors to make their case. Council meetings on these applications will now take much longer.
The role of LPAT will not be to hear a new case from the beginning like previously by the OMB but to only consider whether these applications were processed correctly according to the Planning Act for both the applicants’ case and for the residents’ case.
Having a planning career over four decades, I have the best planning background on Council to consider this new process and be able to provide excellent opinion on the merits of each application having worked for the city as well as in private practice.