The Lawyers Daily spoke with Paul Manning recently about the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017, passed on Dec. 12, 2017.
The Act introduces a new planning appeals regime, which continues the Ontario Municipal Board as the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and repeals the Ontario Municipal Board Act. The government says that the new regime will improve the speed, fairness and affordability of land use hearings but there are concerns that in practice it will restrict and in some cases eliminate the right and grounds of appeal.
“I think the problem is that it’s a much more restrictive and restricted method of appeal”, Paul said about the new regime “The new tribunal will not have the same powers [as the OMB]. Some people will say ‘well, these things take too much time, and they hold up development unnecessarily, and they don’t conform to provincial plans and municipal plans, which they should do.’
“But I have always regarded the planning process, particularly the appeal process, as a kind of crucible, a digest of the interests of individuals, local communities, and companies, as well as provincial and municipal plans and principles”
He noted that a restrictive right of appeal will limit the kinds of discussion on land use, which are material to the planning process.
“The OMB had the authority to hear the matter de novo – in fact that’s what they were required to do — to hear the matter from the outset as though they were in the shoes of the planning authority making the decision. It could take everything into account afresh and have matters argued before it and make a decision accordingly.”
“That doesn’t appear to be the case any longer. It [the tribunal] is now very strictly and narrowly limited. The grounds of appeal must be founded on the basis of provincial and municipal plans otherwise it could be thrown out,”
Paul’s comments are reproduced in The Lawyers Daily article: Dissolution of Ontario Municipal Board step backward, environmental lawyers say, which can be read here
Manning Environmental Law is a Canadian law firm based in Toronto, Ontario. Our practice is focussed on environmental law, energy law and aboriginal law.
Paul Manning is a certified specialist in environmental law. He has been named as one of the World’s Leading Environmental Lawyers and one of the World’s Leading Climate Change Lawyers by Who’s Who Legal.
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